What Autumn Teaches Us

Autumn's grand displayOnce the autumn harvest passes, nature goes through the process of housekeeping.  Making everything bare, it lets go of its abundant creation of spring and summer in a final grand display. As aging leaves fall to earth, they enrich the soil to promote next year’s new buds and new harvest. The end of the growing season marks a turning inward and a falling away of outer-direction energy.

This energy shift offers us, more than in any other season, the opportunity to learn more about ourselves. Autumn returns us to our essence, moves us to eliminate what we no longer need and reveals what is most precious in our lives. Autumn’s mission is to clear out the old and the negative.

Nature offers insights on our own cycles of creating and letting go. Trees in autumn don’t hold onto their leaves because they might need them next year. Yet how many of us hold onto what we’ve generated or collected—old magazines and clothes, decayed relationships, old or negative thinking—and defy a natural cycle?

How can we hope for a harvest next year unless we cut back the old and start fresh.

Lessons of Chinese Medicine

As a holistic body-mind approach, Chinese medicine believes that autumn holds the energy of the metal element. The emotion associated with this element is grief. Whenever we experience loss, separation and “letting go,” we naturally feel grief. Grief helps to cleanse us of what is no longer needed in our lives. When our internal metal energy is blocked or imbalanced, we may find it difficult to let go of grief—or be unable to express it.

The colon and lungs are the organs associated with the metal element. Their overall function is to take in, assimilate, utilize and eliminate what is unnecessary or toxic from our body, as well as from our mind and spirit. Yet the daily onslaught of “garbage” we ingest and assimilate in the form of negativity from the world can cause “constipation.”

In autumn, nature squeezes out the juices within life forms. In hibernation, energy is stored to handle the cold winter. Metal helps us to conserve energy, store necessary nourishment internally and pull together resources for creating and reaping the future harvests of our lives. With fewer hours of sunlight to energize us, we too must learn to contain and conserve our energy during the dark time of year.

Letting Go, Letting In

brisk fall airThere is more to this season than “letting go.” It is also a time to take in the pure and the new. The lung, the other metal organ, grants us the inspiration of fresh breath, as on a brisk fall day when you fill your lungs with clean, crisp, cool autumn air. In classical Chinese medicine, the Lung is described as “the receiver of the pure Chi from Heaven.”

Letting go can be a frightening prospect. But, just as the trees let go of the past year’s leaves and Nature has something new in store, the ending of one cycle gives rise to the next.

Nature abhors a vacuum. When we clear out the things that no longer work in life, or serve our higher purpose, we have the opportunity to invite harmonizing energy in the form of new people and opportunities to enter.

Begin by discarding stuff you no longer need or does not serve your higher self. Donate, sell, dump, or circulate what might be of value to others. As you let go of things, do a mental inventory of old hurts, habits, beliefs and assumptions that linger in your consciousness and use the breath to help you with the process of letting go.

gemstoneJust as metals give value to the earth (gold, minerals, crystals and gemstones), the metal element within us gives us our sense of self-worth. Each of us is a miracle of creation, more valuable and special than any object we could ever pursue. We each have a unique and priceless contribution to make.

Get in sync with the rhythms of autumn. Change your mental diet. Breathe in autumn’s energized and purified air. Exhale old negativity, impurities and pain from your body, mind and spirit. Contemplate who you are without these old identifications.

Create a new personal story with your authentic self as the heroine
and ride the effortless wave of the “new you” into the world.

Need help in clearing out the old? Let’s talk.

Let Go and Start Anew

haitiI can’t think of anything more devastating than an earthquake that causes loss of tens of thousands of lives, loved ones, limbs, livelihoods and homes for an entire country. The initial response is to sift through the rubble looking for any signs of life, then useful objects and mementos. Finding the spirit and determination to pick up the pieces and start anew takes enormous courage and fortitude. Our Haitian friends have weathered revolutions, hurricanes, government suppression – and yet there continues to be a spirit and will to start over.

We all face losses and disappointments throughout our lives, ruptured relationships, unsatisfying jobs, no promotion, missed opportunities and lost dreams. How can we emerge from our plight with a renewed vision to start down a new path, embrace the hope of creating something new, and forge something better?

Rodin_thinker_frontal_viewRuminating stuckness

When things go awry or we experience loss, our minds can flood with a downward spiral of painful thoughts ranging from rejection, worry, fear, to regret and low self esteem. Our mind utters familiar messages: “I’m not good enough,” “not loveable,” “not talented,”  “not successful.” “I’ll never find love and companionship, a good job, fulfillment, peace – or be free of pain.” “Why me?” “Why has God forsaken me?” “Why do I have to suffer?” “I can’t bear to be alone in the world.”

Could have, should have thoughts can ruminate constantly. We tell ourselves, “Surely this is all a dream. He or she will change their mind or the situation will all go back to the way things were. I’ll wait. The phone will soon ring and things will all be better.”  When the phone doesn’t ring, more hurt and even anger sets in. It can become a never-ending vicious cycle, like a hamster on a treadmill that goes nowhere. That is your fate until you face the finality and decide to step off the treadmill.

sky-1Make peace with your past

The spirit to start anew is available to everyone when we learn to let go of the old – relationship, job, way of life or whatever has you tied to the past. It’s not easy and it takes courage. But the payoff is finding that life still holds joy and gifts that abound and that can free your spirit to soar in unimaginable ways.

As I reflect over my own life, it is filled with losses – relationships, jobs, creative projects, endeavors that fell flat or for some reason just ended. Looking back with today’s eyes, I know I could have handled many things better. But I also know that I did the best I could with what I was capable of at the time. Each loss has taught me lessons making the next disappointment a little easier to handle.

I truly believe that we all do the best we can in any given situation. The challenge is to know when and how to let go so we have the resilience and strength to channel our energies in a new direction.

Read more: Processes to help you “Let Go and Start Anew.”