Fall is by far my favorite season. The air gets crisp, the mood turns to cozy and the leaves start to change colors. Having recently moved out to Colorado, I admit, I am a little home sick for the beautiful New England foliage. The golden aspen trees here in CO are certainly something to behold if you’ve never seen them in person, but they don’t stand a chance against the painters’ palate of colors that trees in the North East produce.
Chemically speaking, this changing of colors is the beginning part of the process that results in the tree letting go of its leaves as winter arrives.
For me, autumn is a time of introspection and connection. A time to discover all the colors within yourself. A season for exploring and going deeper into the veins of you. Finding a place of cozy comfort where you can begin to to let go of attachments.
Letting go of attachments sounds HARD. Especially to those things that bring happiness or feelings of internal warmth, like the gorgeous leave I just raved about, or the venti coffee I like to buy most mornings. It can be hard enough to let go of the things that bring pain, let alone the things that keep us smiling.
But letting go of attachments is a good, healthy practice. And I promise, it isn’t about deprivation or punishing yourself. It’s about letting things be as they may, change how they will, and accepting that nothing is permanent. When we let go of needing things to be exactly as we think they should be, we open ourselves up to possibilities of wholeness that we can’t even comprehend when we are attached to the way things are now.
So how am I incorporating this beautiful metaphor into my daily life?
By starting a daily practice of self-exploration through meditation, and by kicking out a few habitual go-to pleasure-getters (here’s looking at you post-lunch cookie) that I’ve acquired over the past few months.
Cutting out the quick fix mood boosters is the easy on paper part. We shall see how it plays out in practice…
The daily meditation practice is the hard on paper, easy in practice part. When I have the discipline to sit myself down everyday, the hard part is over and the peacefulness of listening to myself takes over.
One of my favorite meditation techniques which I tend to gravitate towards in the fall is a practice I’ve come to know as labeling. As with all meditation, find yourself a calm, quiet space, sit up nice and tall (getting your hips higher than your knees if possible), gently close your eyes or soften your gaze, and then bring your attention to your inhales and your exhales. As you attend to your breath, and something pulls your attention away, (and it will!), simply label whatever action broke your focus (eg, thinking, smelling, hearing, feeling, seeing), acknowledge it, and then come back to your breath.
My favorite parts of this practice are seeing all of the directions I can be pulled, how easily I can lose my focus, how ridiculously often it happens, and then how simple it is to just come back. Each time, I let go of whatever it was that pulled me away. The key is being gentle with yourself when you realize it. This meditation perfectly reflects the ever changing nature of our lives and the consistency of our selves.
I highly suggest doing a little autumn self-analysis. Find a way to reach inward each day and just be with all that you have. And then practice letting it go with love and appreciation and see where it “leaves” you (no pun intended ;) ).