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Autumn: A Lesson in Letting Go

Nature moves in cycles: the moon cycle, the water cycle, the planetary cycle, the life cycle of animals, the cycles of the seasons,. There is no stopping the cyclical motion of the natural world. It just simply happens.

We have moved into the season of Autumn. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, the leaves are beginning to change color, the air is feeling crisper, the animals are moving ahead with their preparations for the winter, and the fullness of growth from the summer is starting to fade. There is a deceleration of movement that is in the air, even when our human lives are still moving swiftly.

This slower energy calls us to be still for a moment, to take stock of how things are going and to think of the parts of our lives that are ready for change. Just as the trees are beginning to shed their leaves, so we can acknowledge those things that need to go.

Sometimes in my reflections, I find material things: the electric keyboard that is no longer being used, the pants that never really fit my body right, the oddly shaped picture frames that I have been holding onto just in case I find the right photo. All of them are ready to find a new home.

Sometimes, I realize old thought patterns that are no longer serving me. These seem harder to let go. They have been with me for a very long time and there is not a Goodwill truck available to quickly pick them up for recycling. The process of clearing and replacing these takes much longer.

The energy that is easily accessible to us in Autumn (which we can cultivate at any time of year) helps us with this process. When we find ourselves triggered by a current experience, we can pause and contemplate: “Why is this so upsetting to me? Is there a thought behind these emotions I am feeling? How can I shift this thought to another one that brings me more peace?”

Eckhart Tolle writes “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you have chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”

Accepting it doesn’t mean we are wanting it to happen or that it makes us feel good to experience it. Accepting it means that we are acknowledging that it is happening and that we are not a victim. We have the power to choose our response. This acceptance allows the resistance that has taken so much of our energy to fade away. Once the resistance is gone, the cyclical movement of the experience can continue and a shift can happen.

As the season of Autumn moves on, begin to notice what old thoughts and ways of being you are ready to shed. They will come up as discomfort in your body or a recognition that something doesn’t quite feel aligned mentally or emotionally. Instead of judging them or yourself, look with gentleness and curiosity. “There you are again. I see you are still there. It’s okay that you are, but it is time for me to let you go and embrace a new thought that is more life giving to me now.” Remember that old thought patterns take time to shift so grant yourself patience. And if you ever want a reminder, simply look outside and follow Mother Nature’s lead.

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