The Waning Days of Autumn

posted in: Community, Mindfulness | 0

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re nearing the end of Fall. The shorter days, chilly nights and activities of the natural world are a clue that nature is preparing herself for the rest and respite of winter.

Have you noticed the trees lately? This may be the best time to plan a nature walk. It doesn’t need to be a hike, in fact a nice slow walk down a gentle path may be exactly what you need to notice how nature prepares herself for the coming months, and how you can learn from her.

You only need to look to nature and how she transitions through each of her seasons, to live in a more natural rhythm with the world around you. There is a continuous cycle of birth, transformation and death occurring. One season comes to an end and another begins – sometimes gradually, sometimes abruptly.

Fall is a busy time in nature. Leaves are turning brilliant hues of golds and reds and yellows as they stop producing chlorophyll (interesting fact, these colors always exist in the leaves, they were just masked by green). Then they begin their descent to the ground, providing future nourishment to the soil as they breakdown. Animals gather food, or fatten up to get them through the scarce season. Lakes and ponds and streams are at their lowest levels to make room for Spring runoff.

It’s time. Gather up your journal and your camera, grab your jacket and a bottle of water, and head out to your favorite outdoor space. If you’re new to spending time outdoors, it shouldn’t be difficult to find space in nature – a nature preserve, city park or your own backyard are all good choices. The idea here is to learn from nature’s cycles. Here are some tips to get you started:

Begin with a centering practice
Take a few deep breaths and close your eyes or soften your gaze. Then feel the presence of the Earth below you. Notice how gravity is holding you firmly in place. Sense your place in the space you physically occupy, your sense of proprioception. Continue with this centering practice until you feel yourself beginning to slow down, to feel calm, then invite yourself fully into this experience with nature.

Approach with a sense of curiosity
Ask the questions of nature. Why are the leaves this particular color? What is happening with the forest critters? What changes do I notice in this transitional time?

Do a senses practice
Use all your senses to deep dive into nature. I’ve talked about this before and use it with every Forest Bathing group I guide.

  • Listen to birdsong, critter movement, water, silence, the hum of the natural world.
  • Smell the fragrances of nature. The scent of wood, the earth under you and the foliage around you all count. Do you smell anything unpleasant? What makes it so?
  • Part your lips and allow your breath to pass over your tongue. What do you taste? Can you imagine what some of those smells might taste like?
  • See if you can feel a cool breeze on your skin. Reach out and touch the flora around you. Can you feel the difference of bark between a variety of trees? What is soft or stiff, rough or smooth, slippery or sticky? How does water feel as you play with it?
  • Look for movement, colors, patterns, the smallest thing, the largest, the closest and the farthest. What evidence do you see of forest animals, birds and insects?

Notice the community of nature

  • Where do you see cooperation, interconnectedness, interrelationship?
  • Where do you see competition?
  • Where do you see communication between elements of nature?
  • Where do you see evidence of resilience?
  • What gives you hope?

Next week, nature transitions to Winter. Have you prepared as she has?

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