The Paradox of Autumn

September and I have a complicated relationship. It’s a paradoxical time – long standing one of my favorite months of the year and also one of my most challenging.

It’s when the weather here in Wisconsin is at its finest! The often oppressive heat and humidity of August wanes leaving sun filled days, delightfully warm daytimes, lower humidity, gentle breezes, and comfortably cool evenings. And while the days are shortening, they still last nicely into the evening hours. Sleep becomes heavenly with open windows and light blankets for a return to nestling.

The growing season is in full harvest. Farmers’ markets and locally sourced produce shelves are bursting with color, flavor, and variety. Runs to the grocery store become infrequent and time is spent processing peak-of-ripeness produce for winter consumption. There is also this glorious convergence of spring, summer and winter fruit/vegetables which makes creativity in the kitchen a delight! Tomatoes, Apples, Peppers, Pears, summer squash, winter squash, brussels sprouts, herbs, sweet onions, cabbages, radishes, carrots, lettuces, sprouts, and greens of all kinds!

The kids are back in school which means more structure and relief for my friends and more quiet in the parks.

And yet, historically, September has been a time of year when I sink into a deep depression. Something I never fully understood until I moved through a significantly painful time in my life, just a few years ago. Naturally, there is the sadness of releasing all that is joyful about summer, and for some, dread about the coming winter gloom. (We often underestimate the places that grief shows up.) I also realized that, for me, there was a “karmic stamp” on September and it wasn’t until I completed that cycle — travelling through the depths and heights of a life changing event — that I felt a shift. A healing and release of the pattern of sadness I once felt this time of year.

September is a reminder of change. With the Autumnal Equinox comes the transition again from light to dark. We prepare to let go. We harvest the fruits of our labor and put the soil to bed. We begin to transition from the excitement and “go” energy of summer to the quiet and “rest” energy of winter.

As I moved through healing my karma with September I became acutely aware of how death, metaphorical and literal, is a necessary companion of growth and creation. As the trees let go of their once vibrant green leaves in order to rest and restore so they can once again grow and flourish when the time is right — we too must let go of things in our lives that no longer serve us so that we may rest and restore in order to grow and evolve when the time is right. This can so often feel like a death unto ourselves, something Buddhism describes so beautifully.

 
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It’s about the “s” self versus the “S” self. So much of what we hold to be true about ourselves is held by our ego and based on beliefs and stories we were given before we were old enough to understand what we were accepting. (The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle are great reads to dive deeper!)

When we open up to forget the self we think we know, and remember the Self we actually are, it is a revolutionary awakening. We experience the letting go and loss of what we once accepted as true, open to seeing things in a new way, and cycle back to creating a deeper relationship and understanding of ourSelves. All of this leading to greater joy and sustainable well-being.

As we move into autumn nature reminds us that there is beauty and sustenance in death and letting go. How beautiful are the colors of the changing landscape?! Golds, Reds, Oranges, Yellows, and every shade of Brown. The joyful playful energy that rises as we walk through piles of crisp crunchy leaves and smell the musky earthly aroma of decay. It’s comforting and beautiful. And remembering all of the organisms, insects, and small creatures who rely on that blanket of “lifelessness” for protection and nourishment through the coming winter.

It’s the paradox of the life cycle in all of its forms. The discomfort of tearing down, dying, and letting go as a requirement for creating and rebuilding for joy, evolution, and sustainability.

Finding Joy

Finding joy while feeling sorrow…it’s a practice and a life skill. I’ve shifted my relationship with September (and the coming winter) through shifting my relationship with myself. Welcoming all of the feelings that arise with compassion and creating new ways to enjoy and look forward to living with the seasons.

Notice how you feel during this transitional time of year:

  • How are you relating to yourself, to others, and to the season?

  • Do you feel joy?

  • Do you feel melancholy?

  • Do you feel dread?

  • Do you feel anticipation?

  • What is coming up for you as we enter autumn and what do you think it means?

What lessons can you see nature teaching you during this season? I’d love to hear.

With Love & Gratitude,

Alyssa