Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. —Albert Camus
Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.
In the Northern Hemisphere, September and the Autumnal Equinox signal the beginning of autumn and a time to refocus our energies. We start wrapping up our gardens and our outdoor lifestyles and preparing for the winter. It's time to cuddle up! These still warm autumn days are an excellent time to focus in on the now. Settle in and appreciate the beauty of the changing leaves. Just like the animals preparing for a winter of hibernation, do things for yourself that will help you get through the winter with ease. Being mindful can help us be productive and successfully transition into the bustle of the winter season.
As the leaves turn and fall to the ground, focus on your own transformation. It's time to reflect and let go of the things you don't need.
What are those things for you? Old habits? Unhealthy relationships? Negative emotions? Breathe it all out and let it "fall" away!
The teachings of Buddhism are summed up in the Four Noble Truths. The 2nd of those Four Truths is that the origin of all suffering is attachment. On his website, Zen Habits, blogger, Leo Babauta has developed a very succinct list of ways to help dissolve attachments and let go. They are outlined here:
Letting Go Practices
Meditation. Meditation is simply sitting still and trying to pay attention to the present moment — whether that’s your breath, your body, or what’s around you right now. What you’ll find is that your mind runs away from the present moment, attaching to worries about the future, planning, remembering things in the past. In meditation, you practice letting go of these mini attachments, by noticing what your mind is doing and letting go, returning to the present moment. This happens again and again, and so you get good at it. It’s like muscle memory after doing it hundreds, thousands of times. You learn that whatever you were attached to is simply a story, a narrative, a dream. It’s not so heavy, just a bit of cloud that can be blown away by a breeze.
Compassion. In this meditation, you wish for an end to your suffering, or an end to the suffering of others. What happens is that this wish transforms you from being stuck in your attachment, to finding a warm heart to melt the attachment and find a way to ease it. You become bigger than your story, when you wish for your own suffering to end. And when you wish for others’ suffering to end, you connect yourself to them, see that your suffering is the same as theirs, understand that you’re in this together. What happens is that your attachments and story become less important, not such a big deal, as you connect with others in this way.
Interdependence. Try meditating not only on the wish for the suffering of others (and yourself) to end, but for others to be happy. All others, whether you like them or not. Again, through doing this, you start to see that you’re all connected in your suffering, and in your desire to be happy. You are not so separate from them. You’re not separate, but interdependence. This connection with others helps you to be less attached and more at ease with life.
Accepting. At the heart of things, attachment is about not wanting things to be the way they are. You want something different. That’s because there’s something about the present moment, about the person in front of you, about yourself, that you don’t like. By meditating, practicing compassion and interdependence, you can start to trust that things are OK just as they are. They might not be “ideal,” but they are just fine. Beautiful even. And you start to become more aware of your continual rejection of the present moment, and open up to the actuality of this moment instead. Over and over, this is the practice, opening and investigating the moment with curiosity, accepting it as it is.
Expansiveness. All of these practices result in a more expansive mind, that is not so narrowly focused on its little story of how things should be, not so focused on its small desires and aversions, but can see those as part of a bigger picture. The mind can hold these little desires, and much more. It’s a wide open space, like a deep blue ocean or dreamy blue sky, and the little attachments are just a part of it, but it can also see the suffering of others and their attachments, it can see the present moment in all its flawed glorious beauty, and be present with all of this at once. Practice this expansiveness right now.