Reflections on Autumn
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
For many people, autumn is a let-down. It means going back to school, falling leaves, putting on sweaters. While I do have some unpleasant childhood memories of spending autumn Saturdays raking leaves, I have always welcomed the season. I love the crisp, cool weather that rescues me from the blazing, hot sun of summer. I love the yellow, orange, and purple mums that decorate neighborhood porches. And I love pumpkins – pumpkin pie, spiced pumpkin coffee, and carving jack-o-lanterns. My daughter’s birthday is in October and we usually went to her Aunt Judy’s house for her birthday dinner, which always included Judy’s home-made pumpkin/squash soup. Memories of those happy family celebrations always make me smile.
The Autumn Harvest
We all associate autumn with the harvest. According to Dr. Joseph Cardillo, Ph.D., author of several books on health and psychology, autumn is the time, in many traditions, to give thanks and celebrate the abundance that we have reaped throughout the year. What seeds of mindfulness have we planted earlier in the year that grew into happy fruition? Part of our own life harvest is to identify what new growth has nurtured us and what has not. We “separate the wheat from the chaff.” During autumn we gather what we will need, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and we let go of what is unnecessary, useless, or perhaps, even harmful. (Cardillo, The Five Seasons, 2013).
As I reflect on my growth this year, I am grateful for several developments. First, I’m thankful for my new-found commitment to walking for exercise. My daily, two-mile walk with Hunter and Chuck, my Welsh Terriers, has improved my sense of well-being, both in body and spirit. Second, I’ve found a new sense of fulfillment from my writing and teaching about mindfulness. It nourishes my heart and soul. Finally, I’m thankful to have my loving husband, Jim, in my life. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t make me feel appreciated and beautiful. What a harvest I’m blessed to have in 2017!
The Autumn Energy Decline
Seasonal energy can wane in the autumn, especially after the vibrant summer sunshine. Recently, one of my book club friends remarked that what she loved most about fall and winter was the increased time she had to curl up in her favorite chair with a good book. That comment stuck with me as I reconsidered how lack of activity can actually bring better focus, deeper self-awareness, and more mindfulness. Dr. Cardillo suggests some questions we can all consider to help us to move forward and reap the benefits of what we’ve sowed:
- What is the true contribution of new developments that I see manifesting in my life? Am I influenced by any false information regarding them? Am I placing any false value on these developments?
- What could I actually do with these new components? What do I wish to do with them? What should I do with them?
- Step back. Gather credible, accurate information to help you decide.
- Make your decision.
- Reward yourself for (A) finding and locating helpful and good information, and (B) for then doing what is best for you.
I hope you enjoy the following Autumn Meditation as much as I do!
An Autumn Meditation
By Dr. Joseph Cardillo
After a brisk walk or just having spent some time outdoors, find a quiet place. Sit. Take a few slow, relaxing breaths. Imagine the cider-scented breeze and crisp leaves whisking across the ground. Let their colors float across your mind as they cross a still and glowing lake. Memorize the autumn flowers ripe with their reds, yellows, purples, blues, and whites, perfuming the acres of golden light pouring onto the grasses and hillsides and gliding the mountain tops. Breathe in slowly, noting the scent of pine cones and sap in the cool air. Breathe in even more slowly, and let a scene you composite from your distant past, from your happiest, more comforting autumns of childhood, play in your mind. Play it out like a scene from an old movie you love. See yourself in this scene interacting with your friends or family. Fee the safety and comfort arise again within you now. When you inhale, inhale this whole picture into your body and mind. Let it flow through you, bringing its comfort everywhere. Let it soothe those parts of you where you feel tightness or pain. Flow with this scene for a while. Feel its warmth radiating within your solar plexus. Feel it radiating throughout you, then outward into the entire environment. Feel the web of energy that is you, your body, your mind, and your environment. Feel the inseparability of this connection. Just feel it as one continuous flowing. Relax, slow down. Let images of goodness that grew from this year’s seasons float across your mind. Invite the ones that have been under your radar to stay a while longer, but don’t disturb them; just watch. Gently ask yourself “What do I need to gather?” Don’t have a conversation with yourself; just see the response in images. Don’t question these images, but do allow yourself to have feelings about them. Pay attention to, but don’t question or stick to, any of your feelings. Just let them bubble up into your consciousness and float through you. Gently ask, “If money were no issue, how would I organize my gifts of goodness into my life?” Don’t respond with words. See your answer in images or pictures. Let these sink into your mind and circulate throughout your body. Feel them. Gently ask yourself, “What aspects of recent growth in my life are unnecessary?” Again, don’t answer. Just see your answer in calm images. Acknowledge them. Take a slow, deep breath, and release these images. Watch them float out of your mind. Go back to your desired image of change in your life. See the goodness of the gifts that you have accrued that will now help get you there. Let this picture sink into your memory. Take a slow, deep breath. Center the picture in your solar plexus. See it filling with autumn’s golden light. When you exhale, radiate this image into your environment. Take a moment and give thanks.