Letting go

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Right now, I see nature doing a lot of letting go: leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, green, life. It’s Autumn’s  job and what I, like many who follow a nature-based spirituality, hear nature calling me to do in my own life at this time. As part of my Autumn equinox celebrations, I consider this question of what it is that I need to release; what habits. what patterns of thinking, what goals, what projects, what chapters in my story. This year, as part of our equinox activities, I made a little “stream” in our garden like the one here (but less effective, due to the lack of hill!) and some walnut shell boats a bit like these (but less, um, upright).

It had been a bit of a hard day in Mama-ville with Little Mr Toddler being, well, a toddler. As the three of us stood in our darkening garden with our boats, Dylan contemplating vocally exactly when he would get to pour all the water into the stream, I contemplated what I was letting go of; what I’d like to sail away from me into the darkness. I found myself silently lamenting the fact that yet another seasonal festival had come to an air of tension and frustration all round. Each time, I strive and want for these festivals to be joyful, beautiful days of celebration. In striving for that – through various activities. little rituals, food and plans – I probably expect a bit too much really. Too much of myself, the already-busy, often-tired Mama who in all honesty could do with less doing and more being; of also-busy, also-tired Rob who splits himself between the roles of work-Rob and Daddy-Rob; and of Dylan, too young to understand and really appreciate the symbolism and meaning of many of the things I’d tried to weave into the day.  It had been too much. I started to feel guilty about it; how would Dylan ever see celebrating the seasons positively if he associated them with stress? How could I have prioritised these activities over just savouring and honouring stillness? The answer I harvested was that I probably needed to in order to realise I need to let go of some of my often-high expectations. My hope is that in expecting less, I will find myself more grateful and feel more blessed with abundance instead of thinking so much about what I didn’t do or have. The shift will be easier said than done.

Our little boats wobbled over and ignored the water trying to bob them along. My life these days seems one long u-turn from my teenage perfectionism. Goodbye, high expectations; I know some of you will stay with me like those odd leaves that cling onto their branches all winter long. But I’ll feel lighter with fewer of you. I’m sure. ♥

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September

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September is another slightly awkward month for me. Its climate is often a little deceptive and the month and I don’t have a great track record; quite a few difficult memories of mine are placed in Septembers past. Some good ones too, but it’s a time that feels quite transitional, and I often find change difficult . Although it seems strange for the start of the new school year to affect an adult not in school , I think that the awareness of local kids returning to their classrooms, and of new uni students arriving in town, does imprint itself on my mind. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the change brought by the constant motion of the autumnal winds and falling leaves makes Vata the dominant dosha at this time of the year. As a vata-dominant person, it makes sense that I’m susceptible the tendencies of anxiety, restlessness and digestive issues that excess vata is said to be responsible for – and particularly susceptible to them at this time.

I hear Autumn’s first whisperings at Lammas, in August, but feel the season to really take hold in September when the leaves are noticeably turning and falling. Even though it’s not unusual for September days in the UK to be so sunny-warm that you could easily call them for summer ones, they take a while to warm up in the mornings now.  It’s dark when I (usually!) wake and the long balmy evenings have gone. The first half of September usually sees the last day of the year that sees me in sandals.

As nature’s energy, its green and its water all retreat I feel the goddess of the land prepare for her rest. As she starts to settle down, (not quite ready to sleep but, as I tell it to my son, brushing her teeth and getting her pyjamas on!), an older goddess is watching through a door. Her cloak is dark, her eyes wise. Her lips are thin but her smile welcoming. The land is still bright with fruits and flowers and crops but it’s time to gather them up and follow the queen of the darkness into the months of longer nights. For me this is into the home I’ll spend more time in, into the different day-to-day schedule, into the shift in focus of the activities and food I’m drawn to, into different thoughts, rituals and meditations.

At Lammas, I generally find myself focussing on the harvest of what I’ve outwardly done that year; our garden harvest, new skills and progress that tend to be of an outward nature, that kind of thing. I also consider what I need to let go of in terms of my physical activities and/or material stuff. As the Autumn equinox approaches I tend to consider what I need to let go of in these terms too, and to celebrate my inner harvest; my self development, my emotional and psycho-spiritual harvest.

 

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Shop window in Cabot Circus, Bristol, 2014