For centuries people have used nature’s seasonal changes to understand the developmental stages of human life and aging. Autumn has traditionally been associated with mid-life and mature adulthood. It is a season with reminders about the cycle of life in nature. As the colours of the leaves naturally begin to change and fall to the ground, days are shorter, and temperatures grow colder. The fall reminds us that winter is only months away. It is with a childlike curiosity that most people enjoy the changes of season in Canada. Children and adults alike revel in the beauty of the natural world as it prepares for a lengthy slumber when the earth is at its coldest.
Enjoying periods of walking, hiking, or simply sitting in the outdoors during this season is a wonderful way to practice your mindfulness training. It also provides a naturally abundant reflective space to think about your own life and the changes you experienced surviving Covid. For me, this time represents the softness of mother earth and the way she transitions life with gentle flexibility. Seasonal changes in nature like changes in people are gradual and occur over time. Of course, there are some unexpected tragic events like tropical storms Fiona, and Ian, but for the most part, seasonal changes gradually and gently lull the world and all its creatures into a new season. Climate change continues to threaten life on the planet and continues to test the emergency preparedness of humankind when disasters strike.
Human changes that happen as we age include physical, mental, emotional, and perhaps spiritual transformations over time. Ideally, people experience deepened confidence, knowledge, grounded-ness, stability, security, and patience as they grow older. Life experiences teach people about things, and offer moments of grace to learn more reflectively about the self and the fragility of others. The hope is that as people age, wisdom also deepens. The wisdom to accept those things in life that one might change, and those aspects that might be time to let-go. A soft forward-moving dynamic gently propels people towards and through changes and progress. Persistently unchanging situations over many years are likely to feel stale, unmotivating, or repetitive. For many people, a lack of progress in relationships, income, professional accreditation, or ambition may signify being stuck in a rut.
Autumn is a beautiful season to think about your personal approaches to change albeit radical or gradual. Do you gently consider options and move in directions that encourage your strengths and passions? Or, do you resist and wrestle with changes that at first seem risky, but prove life-building in the end? Allowing your natural environment to teach you more about yourself is an ancient practice of self-reflection and meditation. A measure of of your personal wisdom and growth may in fact be the degree to which you make decisions and life transitions with flexibility. Rigid and unyielding approaches to progress are sure to keep you right where you have always been in your life. What better time then the fall to reflect on your life to date, to practice gratitude, and to open up your self to the possibility of purposeful life change.
Continuing to live your life without the freedom to gently change your relationships, professional business, romantic partner, level of income, religion, or hobbies is antithetical to healthy self-actualization and wellness. Long-term partners in marriage grow together, and the gentle forward-moving dynamic of change resists turning to others for self-fulfillment, entertainment, or fun. We seem to live in a time where honesty and open dialogue is coveted in relationships. Younger committed partners are expected to share views on monogamy, sexual preferences, and arousal at the onset of dating exclusively, so the need for subversion and the element of tragic surprise is no longer relevant in modern marriage. The hope is that this renewed modern practice of intimate-transparency will reduce the divorce rate and increase the level of love and fun with one another over a lifetime together.
Lisa Romano-Dwyer, PhD, Owner