Autumn is by far my favourite season! It is so rejuvenating, and I love to refer to it as ‘the cooling off season’. The beautiful vibrant colours of the leaves on the trees, plants and shrubs and the gorgeous array of colour they create on the ground when they fall. Personally, I get great comfort and inspiration during the season of Autumn.
I use this season as a time for ‘shedding’, for ‘letting go’ for ‘lightening my personal load’. I see it as a time to prepare to revert back into myself, to reflect on what’s serving me well in my life and what is depleting me before the winter season, where I love to retract, restore, renew and revitalise myself.
When I teach Mindfulness and in my own daily practice, I love to use the analogy of ‘Natures Life Cycle’ to teach people how to honour and embrace each of the seasons in their own ‘life cycles’. Mother Earth and nature in general carry thousands of years of wisdom, of grace, of hope, of inspiration and of growth. So wise is Mother Earth to realise that her elements of foliage need time and patience to seed, nurture, grow, bloom, shed and restore. We too as humans need to adapt this very wise cycle into our own human lives. We are not superhumans, we are not robots. We all need time to gently seed ourselves, to grow, to bloom, to repair and recover in our own life cycles.
Think of how each season in nature works. In Spring, there is a very gentle, neutral pace of growth or budding under the surface or internally that occurs on our trees, plants, shrubs and flowers. A lot of this phase of the life cycle is not seen by the naked human eye until the little buds start to sprout. This stage is one of personal and individual growth, at each host’s own steady pace. There is no pressure to keep up with a ‘defined’ or ‘expected’ growth pattern. Then during the season of Summer, most of Mother Earths foliage is in full bloom and blossom. This is a period of great colour, of expression, of vibrancy. There are long hours of daylight and warmer temperatures to be absorbed by our trees, plants, shrubs and flowers. It is a season of celebration.
Then as Autumn approaches, the foliage is so full, so heavy, filled to the top of absorbed nutrients from the previous season. This is a welcome season to start to ‘lighten the load’, to ‘shed’ and ‘let go’ of leaves, of bloom, of colour. This is a season to start to bare the soul and expose elements that have been covered over or ‘hidden’ up to now.
Nature next welcomes the season of Winter. This is a time for deep reflection, for retracting back into oneself, for hibernating, for repairing, renewing and restoring deep under the surface of the earth or internally. This is a time to rejoice for the planting, growth and bloom seasons just had and a time for really embracing the shorter days of light, the cooler air temperatures, the frost tipped grass, perhaps the fall of snow.
So how can we apply this concept to our own daily lives? I find it very useful to visualise and embrace my own life and my life cycles just like nature does. Through Mindfulness, Meditation and Self-Compassion, I have grown to understand, accept and love that I need time in my life to plant my own internal seeds, to nurture my thoughts, mind and body to budding and growth. I need to nourish myself with fresh air, with water, with good food, with sufficient rest time, with all the elements that I need to help me to progress and embrace my cycle of bloom and full blossom. I have also learned the importance of being able to let go of any worries, stresses, strains or fears that do not pose an immediate threat or physical danger to my life. I don’t need to carry around these extra burdens, or pains, or emotions with me every day. I have learned the extreme necessity of creating rest, restore, renew and reflection time in my life. I now embrace any opportunity to deeply retract into myself, to sit in stillness, to listen to my heart more so than my thoughts, to nourish and nurture myself deep below my own surface and below my own roots.
The most beautiful thing about adapting this analogy to our everyday living is that our own life cycles don’t have to be in sync with natures life cycles. We might need different elements of growth, rest, repair or retraction at different or numerous stages throughout our own lives!
An inspiring quote that I love is:
“There is beauty to be found in the changing of earth’s seasons, and an inner grace in honouring the cycles of life”
HOW to ‘Shed’ and ‘Let Go’ using Mindfulness:
The following is a step by step guide on how to ‘shed’ and ‘let go’ using Mindfulness:
2. Now take 3 regulating breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth.
3. As you do so, consciously give yourself permission to lighten the tension in your jaw, your shoulders, your arms, your legs. Say to yourself “I give myself permission to let go of anything not serving me well at the moment”.
4. On your next in-breath, bring an awareness to the fact that it is impossible for you to take this next in-breath before you physically let the last in-breath go. With this awareness, as you breathe in, say to yourself, “I give myself permission” and on the out-breath, say to yourself, “to let go of fear and anxiety”.
5. On the next in-breath, say to yourself, “I give myself permission” and on the out-breath, say to yourself “to let go of pain, grief or trauma”.
6. On the next in-breath, say to yourself, “I give myself permission” and on the out-breath, say to yourself “to let go of stress and suffering”.
7. You can continue steps 4,5 and 6 for as long as you wish, personally choosing what you wish to say to yourself on your out-breath, you as let go.
8. When you are ready, bring your awareness to how calm, peaceful, lighter and rejuvenated you feel in your mental, emotional and physical body. When you are ready, gently open your eyes and let go of the practice.
By Leona McDonnell Mindfulness and Wellness/
As published by The Celtic Media Group in The Anglo Celt, Connaught Telegraph, Meath Chronicle, Offaly Independent, Westmeath Examiner and Westmeath Independent newspapers w/c 9/11/2020)
Thank you to Brian o’Loughlin at the Westmeath Examiner https://www.westmeathexaminer.ie/ for all his wonderful help!