Entering the Heart of Autumn
“Begin by relaxing. Let your spirit rest … gently let go of busy things in your mind … allow your body to slow down…. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Do this three times. Gradually sink into a quiet place of ease and comfort.
Move into your inner self … when you are inside, visualize a peaceful and inviting wooded area…. There is a trail that meanders through the trees. Look for it. When you find it, begin to walk on this narrow path…. As you walk along, notice that it is autumn. The air feels cooler…. Hear the crunch of the dry leaves beneath your feet…. Smell the odor of tree bark and dry leaves…. See the sunlight coming through the trees…. Everywhere you glance, see magnificent colored leaves of gold, rust, orange, and yellow … Look up and see little gusts of wind twirl more leaves to the ground….
You now come to a widening of the path that leads to a circle of oak trees…. In this circle there is an old wooden bench. Go to the bench and sit down. Abide there and let the mellow beauty of the woods penetrate your whole being….
As you sit in the woods, reflect on your life. Ponder the part of your life that feels satisfying and rewarding: the dimension of it that is like the plenitude and fullness of an autumn harvest, the part that is mellow and fulfilling….
Now you look at the leaves hanging on the branches. Watch a leaf as it breaks free from a twig and twirls to the ground…. As you watch, become aware of a part of your life that is also hanging on a branch, about to break free and fall to the ground. See what it is that you need to let go of, what can no longer be a part of your life. Take time to be with this…. What does it feel like to be there among the beauty of the trees with their dying leaves falling to the ground? Is it consoling? … Does it hurt? … Is it helpful? … Is it challenging? … Does it encourage you? …
Finally, you arise from the bench in the woods to go back the way you came. But before you leave the circle of trees, stoop down and pick up one leaf…. Notice what color and shape it is. Hold it to your cheek and feel the texture of it…. Lay it carefully in the palm of one of your hands. Now begin the journey on the path toward home….
As you arrive at the entrance to the woods, turn around and look once more at the autumn trees…. Look at the leaf in your hand. Let it fall to the ground. Leave it behind to celebrate your desire and willingness to let go and grow…. Now hear a message that stirs your heart. What is this message? … Repeat it slowly and quietly to yourself.
Gently come back to this time and place. Take time to write down anything you would like to remember from your time in the woods.
Questions for reflection
- What is most satisfying and fulfilling for you at this time of your life?
- How have you experienced the dying of autumn in your personal growth?
- What do you fear to let go of?
- What kind of help or support do you need in order to do the letting go that is being asked of you?
- How does the message you heard as you left the woods relate to what is currently happening in your life?
Go for a walk and gather some autumn leaves (or draw or paint them). Let each leaf represent some part of your life’s journey where you had to let go of someone or something in order to grow (a child leaving home, a change of attitude, loss of a job, an illness, a death …). Give a name to each of these leaves, one for each of your significant autumn experiences. Drop each leaf into a basket, calling out its name as you do so. Keep the basket with you for the season of autumn. Look at it often, remembering how each of these autumns required you to lose something in order to gain something new for your growth.”
— The Circle Of Life: The Heart’s Journey Through The Seasons by Joyce Rupp
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