Autumn brings changes in weather and routine. Traditionally, this time of the year was dedicated to bring in the final harvest and prepare for winter - for most of us though, those rules no longer apply. For food, we have the grocery store. For winter, we have parkas and central heat. But autumn still has lessons to teach us, if we can only be quiet enough to listen.
Change is fall's most obvious trait. The weather changes from hot to cool to cold. Seasonal food changes from light and fresh to heavy and starchy. Routines change from vacations and swimming to school and homework. Even your surroundings change as the leaves turn beautiful colors and gradually drop from the branches.
Think about what change means to your life. Are you in the midst of change? Are there changes you would like to make? Are you living in the aftermath of a change for the worse? Think deeply to examine your resilience and sense of adventure. Change is difficult because it requires you to venture into the unknown. But it's also exciting, because wonderful things may await on the other side - you'll never know until you make the leap.
Preparing for Winter
Autumn's changes all have to do with winding down. The days are getting shorter, and the wildlife is settling down and preparing for hibernation. You may be less active as the temperature drops and the daylight recedes. It's the season of preparation - early fall is a time of frenzied activity, during which animals (and paleolithic man!) furiously gather and preserve food, storing it away for winter - but this period doesn't last very long. Once all the available food is gathered, there's little to do but prepare the home for the coming cold.
Meditate on the very act of winding down. The year is coming to an end - is there anything else you want from it? Think about ways to make it happen. Perhaps you yourself need to relax - meditation is just what the doctor ordered. Think about how your own life settles down towards the end of the day, and expand that to think about all the "seasons" of your life.
Family is always important, but we tend to see more of them in the fall. The kids tend to stay closer to home than they did in the summer, and even mom and dad tend to pursue more indoor activities. The holidays also draw us closer together, bringing multiple generations together under one roof. As the weather grows steadily colder, we tend to congregate around the hearth, together.
Think deeply about your family and their relationships with each other and yourself. Fully explore the feelings of warmth you feel when you think about your children. If you feel anxiety, explore that, too. Meditate on your deep and intense love for your spouse, your gratitude toward your parents, your friendship with your siblings, and even your love for your pets. The family unit should be the tightest bond and the warmest feeling you know - feel those feelings, and revel in them. If it's not, explore why. Is there a way to make it better?
As the air grows colder, your environment changes drastically. Trees shed their mop tops to become graceful, spindly wood sculptures outlined against the sky. The colored leaves make a bejeweled carpet beneath your feet. The brisk air feels invigorating in your lungs. In some climates, small creeks and ponds may even begin to freeze over.
Try an outdoor nature meditation. Dress for the weather, and sit somewhere quiet. Listen to the leaves fall. Watch as squirrels gather the last nuts of the season. Try to hear the sound of winter coming. Fill your lungs will cool, clean air, and feel the blush on your cheeks. Later, sit outside and drink a hot cup of tea, paying special attention to how the steam curls from the cup. Don't think about anything, just watch, listen, and feel. Be in tune with autumn.