Here we are---- Autumn ! In tandem with the season, the practice this week is Acknowledging what has value and meaning in our lives with gratitude; and letting go of what is no longer serves.
In autumn the days shorten and the sun is lower in the sky. The lighting is changing the color of the leaves changes as the chlorophyll degrades. The degradation of the chlorophyll reveals other beautiful pigments within the leaf which were previously hidden from us. The tree sheds its leaves to prepare for winter and pull its energy inward as the leaves no longer needed at this time. So for us too, Autumn is a time for letting go in order to conserve our energy for winter.
For your practice each day, consider: What is it you can let go of now? Right this minute….I am letting go of the fact that we “need” to go grocery shopping for the week. Instead, my husband and I are taking advantage of a beautiful afternoon to go on a tandem bike-ride to dinner together. This is the moment. Soon, I will be having weekend classes for my acupuncture program, I will have more assignments due, travel for work, and cold weather will be approaching. The grocery shopping can wait until later tonight or even tomorrow.
As Thich Nhat Hanh puts it in his beautiful little book No Mud, No Lotus, “if you come to look deeply into your fearful attachment, you will realize that it is in fact the very obstacle to your joy and happiness.”
The converse of Letting Go is identifying what truly holds value to you and is something you wish to hold on to in your life. What truly serves? One of those things for me is preserving time with my husband in the midst of being in school and work full time (for the moment). I also value writing these Reflective practices which provide a way for me to offer forward what I am learning in my Acupuncture program. In specific, the offering of these practices, helps me feel connected to dear ones in my heart. It also offers me a terrific way to continue the practices myself!
One way to identify things of deep value to you is to write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. I like do this in the evening as it sets a positive tone to finish the day. These can be little things or big things. Today, I am grateful for a lovely ride with my husband; I am grateful that my daughter is finding a meaningful way forward in the world; and I’m grateful for the little energetic little Sheba Inu dog staying with us while my son and his partner are in Japan.
A final “letting go practice for you” in this video of a 2 minute Qi Gong Exercise : Qi Gong is an ancient form of Chinese breathing & stretching. I find them very meditative. They help still my over-active mind. Qi gong movements regulate our energy. Tai Chi is a martial arts spin off of Qi Gong. The particular exercise on the link above is specifically for the lungs and large intestine meridians which are the two organ systems associated with the autumn in Chinese medicine.
I offer this 2 minute exercise as part of my philosophy of finding little ways to incorporate just a few minutes of healthful practices each day to support our bio-psycho-spiritual well-being. If you can, I suggest doing this exercise in the morning. I now do Qi Gong every morning no matter what...even if it is just a couple of minutes. The movements naturally inspire deep breathing. This expands the lungs and infuses our body with oxygen, or heavenly Qi in Chinese lingo. The other part of this exercise strengthens the squatting muscles which support the large intestine. As you do the exercise, it is helpful to put your intent on expanding your breath all the way to the bottom of your lungs and then fully letting it out. When you let your breath out it is helpful to have the intention of "letting go" all of the stale air and along with it anything mentally that needs to "go" in order to clear our minds. I hope you will consider giving it a go.
I'm working with you.