For most of my 20s, autumn was associated with drama. Something about the weather changing and school starting again made me slip into a mild depression and I would react by creating unnecessary conflict and intensity in my relationships, as to keep me awake and entertained! In reality, I was trying to avoid the discomfort of an inner malaise, one I had been keeping at bay with summer distractions, but would have to face once the winter weather enticed me to spend more time looking inwards and being alone with myself.
The passing of seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the blooming of a flower and the metamorphosis of a caterpillar are all-natural cycles that represent phases of life. We, humans, are interconnected with these cycles in nature and we are affected by the beginnings and the ends occurring around as well as within. They manifest as intense emotions, confusion, a feeling of being lost, tightness, and sometimes pain. When autumn and winter come around, the energy of endings and slower pace is present and it can be difficult to accept it, especially if we have a type-A personality!
When the spring springs, we feel good. The sun’s vitamin D increases serotonin in the brain, the mood neurotransmitter. The longer days make us want to be more active and involved in activities and be more social. If you live in Canada, summer is an easy and economical season; we need less clothes and even our appetite diminishes. Nature around us gives birth and grows and this movement of expansion affects us and is felt within our body and mind. We feel positive, and as a result, we have more resilience when challenges come our way.
When the fall rolls around, days shorten and nature around us slowly starts to die. Things start to feel more like a struggle. It is harder to keep positive with less sunshine and seeing nature decay around us unconsciously starts to affect our mood.
As a culture, death and decay is not something we accept easily, let alone embrace. We resist getting old and fear the event of dying. We fear it because it represents the unknown and we associate it, consciously or unconsciously, with suffering; a suffering we don’t have control over, but has control over us. It is in part why we feel blue when fall and winter come around. We don’t deal with endings really well!
We were also misinformed and made to believe that the opposite of life is death, when it fact, birth is the opposite of death. Life has no opposite; it has always been and will always be. Death is a passage that life goes through, a phase, a transition into another phase of life, as opposed to a final destination or an ending.
Think about it. If the caterpillar was depressed and decided to give up before the term of her cycle of renewal, it would never know the potential it held to soar and inspire awe. When a bird drops a seed in a distant wood, no one knows when and where the birth of a plant will happen. Once the seed is in the ground and making roots, we can’t see it. Yet, it doesn’t mean nothing is happening. When the plant peeks through the soil, willing it to grow faster or grow into a specific flower won’t change the natural process. And when the flower blooms, that is when we take notice. The flowering of the plant is her enlightenment and we acknowledge it at that time, often not having thought of the very important incubation period of surrendering and detachment from outcome. The incubation period is marked by surrendering to the innate cycles of nature and detached from timing and outcome. We can learn from observing nature unfolding.
When the sun goes down, and the world goes to sleep, what happens? Living things rest, heal and regenerate. The business of our minds during the day keeps our bodies in a fight or flight state for most of the time. So many worries and concerns, to-do lists and goals to achieve. At night, the human mind turns off. When we sleep, our body gets to tap into its parasympathetic system, the one that is responsible for the regeneration of cells and the optimal functioning of the vital organs. The same thing happens with the fall and winter, the evening and night of our days. Our minds body and souls are invited to hibernate to contemplate and regenerate. It is the incubation phase of the creative process.
If we shift our thinking and see autumn and winter as an important transition, a hibernation period to rest our bodies, to contemplate and ponder about where we have been and where we are heading, what is working and was is not serving us anymore, the darker seasons become gifts of awareness, space, and sacred stillness. It’s not an end.
There is wisdom in accepting and embracing the end of a cycle and preparing for the next. When we perceive death not as an end but a transition to a new beginning, we can actually tap into more vibrancy, health, creativity and inspiration. We go through this cycle many times within a year, not just during the darker months. Sometimes we find ourselves hitting a wall, surrendering, letting go and birthing a whole new aspect of our soul in one week, even in one day! Becoming aware of and comfortable with this natural creative process within us, is the secret to a happy life.
What if we could move through the chrysalis phases of our lives, the formless yet potent goop, not only with trust and confidence, but with grace, ease, and even joy. One thing I know for sure is that you have within you everything you need to give birth to your soul moment to moment and that your body is built to process what is in the way and wants to go. Meet me there. In the sacred space of our shared temple, our shared heart 💙