Find inspiration in the fall season
In the U.S. (and the Northern hemisphere in general), the month of September brings to mind images of schoolbooks, cozy sweaters, and caramel apples. It’s the beginning of fall; when the world begins its transition from the lively, warm summer into the cold of winter.
Fall is the perfect time to meditate on transitions. The hallmarks of change are everywhere — from the orange and yellow leaves that seemingly appear on trees overnight, to the crisp mornings that persuade you to retrieve a jacket from the back of your closet. When the world around you is in the midst of change, it’s ideal fodder for reflecting on personal changes you’ve encountered, personally and professionally, in recent years.
To be human is to experience change. Some are inevitable, like growing older, and others are things we choose, like getting married or moving. And, of course, there are times when change is out of your control like a death, layoff, or breakup. For some, several transitions occur simultaneously, and many times, we don’t realize we’re in the middle of a change until it’s halfway complete.
Whether you’re in the middle of significant development; or are settled into routine, the following meditations are useful ways to use the changing season to increase your mindfulness.
- Find steadiness in nature: Go for a long walk and consider how the change of seasons is manifesting. What does the air feel like? How have the plants changed? Do you feel differently than you do in the summer? Take your time with these questions. There are no right or wrong answers. After you’ve given this more thought, breathe in the steadiness in this season of change and feel the ground beneath your feet. Fall turns to winter which turns to spring, and soon it will be summer again. These changes are consistent, a circle with no beginning or end. Now, consider how you can apply this to your life. Perhaps the lesson is that you’ll always come out the other side of any transition you face just like each season always leads into the next. Maybe there’s something else in this steadiness that grounds you. When you arrive home again, take a moment to journal about your thoughts and feelings during your walk.
- Lean into the change: This exercise is a combination of embracing the present and treating yourself. It’s best to do this meditation alone with no distractions like phones, television, or music. Gather all your favorite fall things — examples include a soft blanket, comfortable sweatshirt, decorative pumpkin, and chai tea — and find a quiet space. Now, give yourself twenty minutes to really enjoy each of your favorite items. Feel the fabric of your blanket, the softness around your shoulders. Pull on your sweatshirt, noting the color and pattern. Sip your chai tea and think about the warmth and the layers of flavor. Clear your mind of everything but your current experience, which is to welcome the changing season with your favorite fall reminders.
- Find comfort in a shared story: Fall is a great time to cozy up on the couch and enjoy a good book or movie. Embrace this, along with mindfulness, by selecting a book or show about change. There’s something powerful in sharing an experience with someone. It reminds you that you aren’t alone, can help you find the humor in a situation, and illustrates how one can survive — maybe even thrive — during times of change. When you’ve finished the book/movie, spend half an hour considering how the characters dealt with change and whether there are any parallels to your experience. Here are a few books and movies to consider:
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Stand by Me (film)
- Dead Poets Society (film)
- The Intouchables (film)
- Try something new: What better way to embrace the season of transition than to embrace a change up? Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do like making a special dish, asking an acquaintance to grab lunch, or taking a dance class. Pick one of these activities and commit yourself to making it happen during September. It might be nerve wracking and you might stumble but strive to have fun no matter what. Live in the moment, taking in the feelings, sounds, and sensations of this new activity. What did you like and what did you learn about yourself during the process? If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can make it a goal to do one new thing a month.