I love the fall! It’s not because of the beautiful colours of the turning leaves and the cool freshness in the air. While I do really enjoy these aspects, they’re not the main reason I love fall, they’re more a consequence of something very special happening in nature at this time of year.
I know there are many people who really struggle this time of year with feeling down and depressed as the days become shorter. If this is you, then this blog post is here to inspire you to discover a new relationship to the magic of fall that can change this.
Each season has its distinct qualities, but there’s something very special and profound happening during the fall… and if we pay attention, it can really touch our heart and put us in touch with much deeper parts of ourselves.
So, as you read on, I invite you to be reflective. Don’t just read this form your mind… feel what I’m sharing from your heart. Let it put you in touch with what you already know inside yourself.
Our Connection to Nature
Understanding the magic of fall all starts with our connection to nature.
As human beings we have a physical body, but it doesn’t exist independently of the earth.
A few points to reflect on:
Your physical body is made of nature. We eat food that comes from nature (hopefully!), we digest and absorb it, and this amazing process takes place inside us as the food is transformed into our body. The food from the earth builds our body… so we’re essentially made of what we eat.
Our body is roughly 60% water (this can differ slightly depending on various factors such as age and sex).
Also consider that we have more bacterial cells in our body than we have human cells. A symbiotic relationship that keeps our body healthy. While an imbalanced relationship to the many and varied bacteria can make us sick, without them we couldn’t survive.
We’re not separate from nature. We’re part of it!
Since we’re intimately connected to nature, then we’re also affected by its cycles.
The Cycles of Nature
One of the most obvious cycles we’re affected by is the 24-hour cycle of day and night.
In the morning as the sun rises and nature is waking up, so do we. During the daylight hours we’re typically awake and active. The sun sets, the darkness of the night arrives, and we usually rest, sleep and rejuvenate.
Of course, there are people who work overnight shifts and sleep during the day, but if we don’t have a specific reason to stay up through the night, or when we’re not over stimulated by computer or smart phone screens, we’d naturally rest and sleep.
Our body is designed to sleep at night. It responds to the night by releasing melatonin. This hormone, released from the pineal gland, helps regulates sleep, but it’s the darkness that triggers the gland to release it.
This is a scientific explanation, but we don’t need to understand science to know what we experience in our body. We can understand things theoretically as much as we want, but if we don’t apply it to our experience, it really doesn’t mean very much. It’s interesting but it’s not transformative.
The magic of fall is not an idea, it’s an experience of our connection to it.
Nature has an incredible intelligence, and because we’re intimately connected to nature, this same intelligence flows through us. The question is, how in tune with it are we?
Take a moment to reflect on how you feel when the sun is rising, and the daylight increases?
Now, reflect on how you feel when the sun is setting and it’s getting darker?
How does your body and mind respond to nature?
When I pay attention to how the natural rhythm of day and night affects me, I feel more connected to nature. I feel a sense of wonder and respect for the greater forces and intelligence of nature that I’m taking part in, and I realize I function better when I don’t fight against it. For example, I know in myself that if I want good quality sleep, I do it at night.
The cycles of the moon can also have an impact on us. From the energy of full moon to the new moon and back again, we can feel quite different.
Have you noticed how the moon can affect your moods?
It’s possible you’ve felt shifts in your moods and energy levels but never related it to the phases of the moon. It can be a powerful practice to start paying attention to the moon phases and see if and how they affect you.
The seasons express the same principles as the day and night cycle, or the moon cycle, only on a much larger scale.
During the spring nature comes alive! Daylight hours increase, flowers, plants and leaves gradually emerge from the cold dark hibernation of winter in an expansive growth. Summer brings the heat and nature is in full force at its most active. Fall arrives, and nature starts to withdraw inwards, and the leaves fall from the trees as the days become shorter. Winter brings the quietest time in nature, the most internalized and shortest days of the year.
Just like the cycle of day and night, the seasons continue to repeat over and over… and just as our body responds to day and night, it also responds to the seasons.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on this deep connection between the stages of day and night and the four seasons. There’s an underlying principle at play in these cycles… Can you feel it?
Remember, don’t just think about it, feel the forces of nature alive inside yourself.
Spring equates to sunrise.
Summer to daytime.
Fall to sunset.
Winter to nighttime.
Our Relationship to the Night
There’s something I’ve noticed in the way most people talk about the seasons that indicates why some people have a hard time with fall and winter.
When spring arrives most people say, “The days are getting longer”, and then when the fall comes, they say, “The days are getting shorter”.
How often do you hear people say, “The night is getting longer” or “The night is getting shorter”?
Not very often.
Our relationship tends to be bias towards daytime. Which is natural, because the majority of our waking life (our conscious life) is during the day. So, as the seasons change it’s all about the length of the day light.
But if we miss what the night has to offer, it can create an unbalanced relationship to the seasons.
From this perspective, it’s easy to understand why people struggle during fall when they’re losing hours of daylight – they don’t have a relationship to the night – and instead resist it wishing the long days of summer would continue.
I’m not suggesting you have to stay up all night to have a relationship to the night. It’s more about what the energy of the night can teach you and put you in touch with the magic of fall.
Fall is the Sunset of the Seasons
When I observe a sunset, I feel this beautiful transition time of nature. There’s something very special happening that my heart responds to.
The time just before and after the sun descends below the horizon, and before the night has fully arrived, I feel this momentum of nature into the quiet stillness of the night. It brings such a sense of inner peace, fullness and a mood of deeper reflection.
There’s a reason why people are attracted to sunsets… There’s something magical happening. We see it outside, but we feel it inside us.
Take a moment to recall a time when you witnessed a sunset? How did it make you feel?
What’s happening during fall is very similar. Nature is turning inwards on its way to the quiet stillness of winter. It’s not yet winter, but there’s a movement and steady momentum toward the stillness of winter.
This quietening is what I love about fall, and why I never get down about the lengthening nights.
I feel the quiet through my whole being.
Fall is the sunset of the seasons.
Fall is like a slow sunset extended over a few months. Whether it’s day or night, this magic of fall is in the air… it’s happening in the background, and if we pay attention, there’s an opportunity to ride the flow of nature and reconnect to the stillness inside us.
The Return to Stillness
The biggest reason why I feel so moved by fall is because of what I’ve experienced through meditation.
Meditation is a process of turning inwards, away from the external distractions, internal reactions and overthinking that create stress and anxiety. It’s a quietening of the busy mind so we can reconnect to the inner stillness and peace that our heart knows so well.
When we sit to meditate there’s a quietening… and just like the sunset and fall, there’s a momentum into quiet stillness that’s simple, peaceful and profound.
It’s a feeling of a return. A return to something we know at the core of our being… even if we’ve temporarily forgotten, when we feel it again, we remember.
It’s a returning home.
This is what nature feels like during fall… A returning to stillness.
Over time my relationship to this quiet stillness has evolved and become deeper. It’s part of me. It’s a stable foundation that’s always there (not only in meditation).
When fall arrives, the movement of nature into quiet stillness speaks to the quiet stillness inside me. But the stillness inside me is not separate from the stillness of nature. I feel a deep connectedness not only to nature, but to creation.
For me, this is the magic of fall.
What Can You do?
Being curious is a great place to start. Curiosity already establishes an engaged connection between us and the thing we’re curious about.
Deep in your heart, you already know stillness. Your curiosity of the fall helps you naturally reconnect to it.
If you find yourself getting down this fall, remember, it’s an opportunity shift your usual perspective and allow nature to show you something magical.
Remember, we’re inherently connected to nature. Don’t resist it. Learn from it. Nature is one of the greatest teachers we have.
Take some time to witness sunset. You don’t even have to visually see the sunset, if you can great, but it’s not so much about seeing the actual sun set, it’s more about this phase around sunset. There’s no exact timing, but 30 – 60 min before and after is usually more tangible.
If it’s raining or overcast, you can still pay attention to this quietening of sunset.
Allow yourself to be quiet and simply notice how nature is becoming quiet and how that makes you feel. It’s not nighttime yet, but there’s a momentum towards it.
Don’t think about it. Feel it.
Feel the quietening inside you?
Feel your heart respond.
The more you feel it the more it will help take you out of your thoughts and awaken a sense of peace and quiet inside you.
When you’re more familiar with this turning inward quality of nature, you can more easily feel and appreciate the quietening and magic of fall. This is about finding the part of you that’s already connected to nature and knows how to be quiet inside.
While you can feel the quietening of fall over a few months regardless of day or night, when you feel a sunset during fall, there’s a merging of these two cycles for a time that amplifies the quietening energy.
The magic of fall meeting the magic of sunset.
Be sure to enjoy a sunset during fall, sit quietly and feel the momentum into stillness.
If you don’t meditate, I invite you to begin.
If you already meditate or you’ve tried but struggled, you might find that by taking time to do the sunset practice above it will make your meditation practice more effective, because the part of you that can feel the quiet in nature is also the part of you who can actually meditate.
The more we find the quiet inside us the more we can appreciate the quiet in nature during fall.
When you realize the quietening that happens in meditation is very similar to the quietening of sunset and fall, it will help you build a relationship to nature (and yourself), so as the fall comes, you can enjoy and appreciate all that the season has to offer.
Wherever you’re at in your meditation practice, you can learn a lot from nature. The earth knows how to be quiet, let it teach you. Nature, especially at this time of year can help awaken the parts of us that know stillness.
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