Fall is not about letting go, rather it's about witnessing what is already passing. Perhaps it’s a question of semantics, but I find the nuanced difference absolutely crucial in supporting us to move through autumn with greater ease.
The ancient Chinese scholars who studied the fall element must have seen much of what we’re seeing now: trees shedding leaves, migratory birds departing, flowers dying. Underneath the surface is an energetic impulse to draw in, to conserve, to release what no longer serves in preparation for the cold months ahead. No wonder it’s been characterized as the season of letting go!
While the mind might think that we can let go at will, we never actually make a decision to let go, do we? We don’t wake up one morning next to a partner whom we love and get along with perfectly and decide, “I want a divorce!” We don’t wake up to a fulfilling and truly rewarding job and decide, “I’m gonna quit!” No, we wake up to the realization that the relationship or job is no longer serving. There’s no decision making, there’s witnessing.
Witnessing means an honest look at the way things are, the natural cycle of life, how all things begin and all things end. When we witness rather than attempt to let go, a space opens up for us to tend to ourselves with great care. It’s an opportunity to see what’s departing and how it has acted in our lives, thank it for what it has given us, mourn its departure, and bid it farewell.
Painful? Very likely. But as recent news or events in life push our grievances up to the surface, the focus on witnessing keeps us in the seat of the observer. When we sit, as a friend, with the discomfort, agony, nostalgia, deep sorrow, and any other emotion that arises, deep healing takes place because we are meeting our experience from the warmth of our never-born, never-dying infinite presence. And that is key to finding greater ease in autumn, and in life.
Need support this season? Experiencing an ending? Want to sit together and tend to the emotions, sensations, and thoughts that are arising? I'm here. Email, call, or book a session @ schedulicity.com/scheduling/SORJJM/services. The next couple of days are fully booked, but there are a bunch of openings next week. See link to schedule.
May witnessing what's being released reveal to you the precious gem that you are,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
P.S. Please leave a comment and tell me how autumn is showing up for you!
At the recent Befriending Yourself: Spring Meditation Retreat (pictures here), I shared with participants that to me the characteristic sensation of the spring element in Chinese medicine is discomfort.
It’s not the discomfort of hurt exactly. Nor that of an ache per se. It’s more the discomfort of having outgrown where you’ve been without quite being ready for what’s next. Not yet.
Many of us are experiencing such discomfort right now. The temperature goes up, then down. The winter coat comes on, then off. When is spring coming? Have we outgrown winter yet? When can I go out and play? This is so uncomfortable!!!
Perhaps when the decision has to do with whether or not to grab that winter coat, the stakes are fairly low. But when you’re pondering leaving your job, going back to school, having another child, taking on some new role, starting a relationship, moving to a new home, making a career leap… well, the gains and losses feel quite significant then.
How do we know when is the right time to make a move? To grow in a new direction? To leave what we have come to know and spring into the next… unknown… uncharted… big big step?
When discomfort arises, I like to remind myself that it's natural. It's natural to feel agitated, restless, and uncomfortable. This is a feeling tone that pulsates with a desire for change, for growth, to blossom!
So next time you notice discomfort, sit with it for a moment if you can. Tell the feeling you wish to know what it’s about. Ask it, “What vision would you like to share with me? What decision do you wish for me to make? What action are you pointing me to?” Listen intently and together you may find exactly when and how you grow.
May discomfort reveal to you the unfolding of your greatness,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Our human bodies are brilliant mechanisms. When faced with imminent danger, they immediately react with a series of internal shifts and changes that prepare us to flee or fight for our survival. The "on" switch for this is, of course, the experience of fear.
Let's say you're walking outside and all of the sudden you see a poisonous snake, or you're pulling the door open to a coffee shop just as someone carrying an open mug of hot tea is pushing the door out. The fear of an injury or harm (or worse) will pump your body with enough force to take off at the sight of the snake (i.e. flee) or shove the arm that holds the mug to the side without any hot liquid burning you (i.e. fight).
I'll leave the detailed biological explanation of what exactly happens in the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system to the experts, but I would like to call our attention to the role fear plays in igniting these intricate and involuntary processes that keep us alive when we come up against a threat. If fear is what starts these survival processes, then fear is like a key that unlocks wise old instincts, impulses, and abilities that naturally remain unconscious, or dormant, until they're needed.
Perhaps it's easier to acknowledge the wisdom that fear unlocks when it allows us to run from a hazardous reptile or fend off a 3rd degree burn. But it's likely a lot harder to perceive the wisdom fear is pointing us to when it arises at the memory of a long-ago elementary school incident or an upcoming presidency.
In Chinese Medicine, the emotion of fear is related to the season of winter (more on this at THIS Sunday's workshop). Acupuncturist Debra Kaatz writes, "The Chinese say that fear is governed by our sense of ourself. When we trust, then this trust dissolves all fear" (Characters of Wisdom, 443).
In non-immediately-life-threatening situations, instead of attempting to defeat fear, push through it, or get rid of it somehow, you may want to turn your attention to fear and ask it what wisdom it can reveal to you today. If you take time to notice fear, see it as the wisdom-pointer that it is, and make it your ally, you may find yourself in agreement with the ancient Taoist text that suggests, "Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe" (Tao Te Ching, Ch. 46, Stephen Mitchell's Translation).
May you always see fear for the friend it is and feel safe in its midst,
P.S. Not sure what I mean? Want to inquire into this some more? Join me in an upcoming meditation or private session.
Could fear be a pointer to your own wisdom?
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.