“Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.”
Autumn is announcing its arrival in many forms. I am observing changes in colour – leaves just tinged with gold, a different feel in the air – maybe a coolness, different sounds as the migrating birds start to fly south. I notice that the feel of the sun has changed as it hangs lower in the sky. In my Mindfulness practice I am aware that there is change as my senses are stimulated with new information from the world around me. There’s change in the air from what had become the norm of summer.
I begin to reflect how Autumn is about letting go. It feels like relaxing. The birds have completed their cycle and are returning to warmer climates and the sea birds are heading out to sea, having spent Summer on the cliffs raising new young. Nature teaches us that not only are we part of the cycle of life, but that in letting go we are making space for the future and allowing life to unfold.
A domino effect begins to happen in my mind as I notice my train of thoughts are drifting from one thing to another. In the Insight training there is a practice called backtracking. This is where trace a chain of thoughts back to the original thought if we can. Being mindful of the season changing was the spark that begun the process for this blog about letting go.
At 65, I am becoming aware that I am probably in the Autumn of my life, and it may be time to let go. I mean really let go. Having read the book from Mindfulness to Insight by Rob Nairn, Heather Regan Addis and Choden, I am reminded of the Insights I now experience in my practice. I notice how hard it is to let go and am aware of some ‘thing’ in my body that is holding on. What’s that about? It makes my breathing shallower – like I can’t quite breathe in fully. So at 65 its not surprising I have a whole load of stuff I am holding on to. But it’s deep inside – not so easily recognisable on the surface.
But little by little, I am working my way through noticing it with my Mindfulness practice, bringing kindness to myself through my compassion practice because some of these things are painful with grief and trauma. By recognising what it is that is still stuck there with my Insight practice I slowly move towards a place of acceptance, and I am able to use my movement practice to help it flow through. I question myself as to why I am holding on to painful feelings, thoughts and memories, since they no longer serve me as the lessons have now been learned. Thanks to the threat-based evolution of the mind, it seems that I habitually hold on to things even if they are uncomfortable. How many of us continue to do things or stay with difficult situations even though the door is there for us to walk through. I find it important to understand why I become attached to certain things or situations in the first place. Attachment is a natural human inclination, driven by our desire for security, comfort, and familiarity. However, I increasingly notice that this attachment can sometimes lead to suffering when I hold on to things that no longer serve me.
Many of the things we hold on to could be a past mistakes, toxic relationships, unfulfilled dreams, or even the simple act of releasing control. That one was a big one for me – I’m saying it again to myself ‘releasing control!’. Letting go is a powerful and transformative process that can bring us peace, happiness, and a sense of liberation.
Sometimes fear of the future can make it harder to let go. In Daoism there is a saying called ‘wu wei’. My interpretation of this is ‘going with the flow’. The early 3rd Century Daoist philosophers describe wu wei as the practice of taking no action that is not in accord with the natural course of the universe. To resist this flow of life can be uncomfortable.
Letting go is not a one-size-fits-all process. It will vary from person to person and situation to situation. However, step by step we can turn to our practice to help us gradually recognise what we are holding on to and move to a place of acceptance.
Maybe we can learn from the trees. In Autumn the process of letting go happens with ease as the leaves begin to transform with beautiful colours before they are set free and fall to the ground.
Just as all life yields to the seasons, I feel a sudden joy in letting go a little and letting some of those leaves of habits, control and pain fall away, trusting that this will make space for new growth and wisdom to emerge. Stepping into the flow and allowing the cycle to continue.
What do you notice about how the season is changing? How does that feel? Are you able to take time for yourself this autumn and find a small thing you can begin the process of letting go. Maybe starting with something small, like an irritation. I’d love to hear how you get on.
You can begin your own letting go process with Mindfulness. Why not try a introduction course online Thursday evening starting 12th October (for 4 evening sessions).