Yesterday, as I was watching the sun set from my back porch—much earlier than I remember it setting just a month ago—I caught myself thinking about life’s natural transitions. In American society, we tend to look at life much as we do time–in a linear fashion, ignoring the cycles that imbue life with much of its meaning. We often live with the perception that life is a series of races, with clearly established finish lines at critical junctures in life. We are always running, going, achieving, and doing, with little time to simply be. As a result, we find ourselves tired and confused, standing at the finish line and realizing that we’ve run the wrong race. With barely a pause, we’re back on our feet and gearing up for the next race, ready to go whether or not we know where we’re headed. It is a race that encourages ambition and busyness but leaves little time for self-awareness or reflection, both of which are necessary ingredients for a life well-lived.
The changing of the seasons provides a perfect opportunity to slow down and reflect on necessary changes in our lives. Fall is the season of finding balance and releasing those things that need to be released, whether these be outdated goals, worn-out relationships, self-limiting beliefs, or a painful grudge. Perhaps there is a grieving process at the passing of one of life’s seasons, or perhaps the old is simply swept away to augur in the new with little more than a tip of the glass and a fond farewell. However it is done, one of the most important things we can do is take the time to turn within and ask a few important questions. Taking the time to reflect on these questions honors the cycles and transitions within our own lives and allows us to move forward with greater confidence, autonomy, grace, and awareness.
What in my life needs to be surrendered or released?
Surrender is not a natural concept to most of the Western world. We tend to cling stubbornly, to acquire things that we pass along to our children, who then pass them along to their children. We hold to our dreams and visions with a tenacity that is designed to achieve but fail to pause to reassess in ways that may bring a level of awareness, adaptability, or creativity to our approach. Some of us do not even release our own breaths fully on a regular basis and need to be taught how to exhale fully. That finally released breath brings with it a measure of peace that is reflective of the peace that comes with surrendering one’s expectations in favor of an awareness and acceptance of one’s reality in the moment. It creates a space wherein the seeds of the next breath are planted. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, reflect on where and how you need to let go in your own life.
What can I do to create more balance in my life?
Fall is one of two transitional seasons, seasons in which one fades to usher in another. On the equinox, the hours of day and night are perfectly balanced, light and dark weaving a reciprocal balance that calls to mind the delicate balance of life and death, yin and yang in our own lives. Where is most of your energy being directed? Are parts of your life being neglected? Are you satisfied intellectually and spiritually? Are you nurturing yourself as well as nourishing your children or your career? What specific actions could you take to bring your life more into balance at this time? Make an internal commitment and then announce your intention publicly, whether it be spending an hour of quality time with your family, going to the gym a few times a week, writing a page every day, getting a weekly massage, or volunteering for a local charity twice a month. Making your goals realistic and specific will make attaining them that much easier, while announcing your intentions publicly creates accountability.
What is the still, small voice inside telling me?
If you’ve been asking yourself the questions above, your still, small voice may be growing louder by the moment. By now, you should have some idea of what’s most needed to maintain a peaceful balance in your life. If not, close your eyes and ask yourself directly. Your answer may be just as direct, but it may also come in the form of a song that sticks in your head, a memory that suddenly pops up, or a sudden feeling or knowing. Whatever comes, take note. Understand that your subconscious may use symbolism to speak to you, and it may have quite a sense of humor. You may have to decode your messages a bit, but this becomes easier with practice. Be sure you write down your impressions so that you can look back on them and see exactly how accurate they were at the time they were received! Doing this, as well as heeding the wisdom offered, will encourage further insights as the days pass.