Most of us are positively and negatively affected by weather changes. On sunny days we smile (for the most part), and when it has been raining torrents for what seems like weeks, we grumble (unless we are building our Arks.) While there is something to be said for the glories of every season, we here in the upper half of the Northern Hemisphere appear to revel in our summers more than any other season. Perhaps this is because local fruits and vegetables are with us in such abundance, or because digging in the dirt and walking in the sunshine connect us with our essential humanity. Not many of us let go of summer without a few bittersweet sighs. We may delight in the autumn colours and brisker temperatures, but there are those boots and coats we have to dust off and slog with us wherever we go. While summer is an expansive time and expansion is always exciting, once fall comes, its contractions announce the birth of a whole new way of being in the world.
Fall is infused with the energy of Letting Go. Here in these Green Mountains and elsewhere, we let go of summer’s green lushness, of abundant sources of local food, of the freedom of light-weight clothing, and of the kaleidoscopic colours of the natural world. Rather than fight the necessity of letting go by denying it, EFT offers a way to meet this seasonal contraction by tapping on our feelings of loss. Telling the story of what we will miss as we tap on our meridian points – the sight of roses, the experience of heat, the scent of earthworms, and the relief of a cold drink on a blistering day among these summer gifts – authenticates our sadness so that our lives feel more congruent. Joseph Campbell counsels, “When falling, dive.” Tapping on the necessity of letting go at this time of year is one way to dive into accepting the changes our fall and winter months bring.
There are many important reasons to acknowledge our sadness as summer turns to autumn. Perhaps the most important of these is that we can become emotionally and physically exhausted when we pretend life is one long endless summer. For example, when we pretend to be eternally young and vibrantly productive long after we leave our twenties, thirties, and forties, we remove ourselves from the inexorable dance of expansion and contraction that is at the heart of all life on Earth. Our preoccupations with appearing youthful at any price and in every season not only distort and unbalance our individual experiences of life; they also fuel the cultural distortions of ageism that reduce older adults to markets to be exploited by the ruthless individuals and corporations who sell perpetual youth (our human equivalent of endless summer) for a very high price at a variety of huckster shows.
Another important reason to acknowledge our emotional response to the natural process of contraction and letting go after a time of expansion is the comfort the cycles of life, death, and rebirth offer when we open to them. Fall is the beginning of the releasing phase of the life cycle. As emotional creatures, grieving during autumn’s letting go process aligns us with the greater non-human world. This alignment, something our mammalian bodies crave, is energizing. Whenever we tell ourselves the truth of our emotions as we tap, we are confirming on a mammalian level that our feelings of loss are entirely acceptable, freeing any energy previously devoted to pretending that we live in a perennially expansive world. As we free this energy, we are enlivened.
Enlivened by acknowledging the sense of loss that is at the heart of summer’s transformation into autumn, we inevitably attune to other, more personal losses. These also require our attention. Unexpressed grief fuels depression, dissociation, and, depending on the severity of our losses, the sudden, violent rages we read of so frequently in our press these days. Aligning ourselves with fall, the season of grief, as we tap for our personal losses moves us into a state of deeper harmony with ourselves, others, and our world.
As I participate in the letting-go meditation autumn initiates, I often find myself moved to explore specific personal losses in my journal. Some of these losses were life altering, and seasonally tapping on different aspects of their circumstances always brings me to a deeper sense of peace about the chiaroscuro pattern of expansion and contraction that is my life. Disappointing or angering people I love through errors of judgment, losing my innocence regarding human nature, and realizing that the time I have yet to live is less than the time I have lived thus far sound like morbid preoccupations, and yet they frequently inspire tapping scripts that take me deeper into resolving situations that hijack my energies when I’m under stress. Tapping on these specific aspects deepens my experience of life as an integrated whole.
While I can never control people’s responses and reactions to me, I can govern my responses to others. When I take the long view – an ability continuously refined by the aging process – I know with certainty that feelings of anger or rage directed toward me by others are connected to some personal shadow work that beckons their attention. I know this because when I am angered by others after a period of reflection I understand that the root of my emotion is found in an event or attitude growing out of my past or my personal way of being in the world. With those relationships I value because they have transcended the arrangements that can masquerade as friendships, I correct the situation with an apology, and, if the situation warrants it, a conversation about what was really going on with me and taking responsibility for this. I like and trust this behaviour in myself and others. For me, it is a sign of maturity.
Maturity, ripeness, is one of the magnificent positive aspects of autumn. Here on our back roads through Vermont’s mixed hard and softwood forests, we come upon crotchety apple trees laden with small but sweet fruit. Closer to home in our garden, the delicata squash are untroubled by the frost that crisps their foliage. These sunny yellow and green striped voluptuaries nest in brown leaves and become sweeter and sweeter the colder it gets. The tomato plants bow their heads to the dictates of the season and give up their jewel coloured fruits, but the kale remains, often until the snow comes and with it, curious deer on the lookout for this delicious bounty.
Every season, human and non human, brings pleasures and challenges. When we embrace both, we take a vital step toward fashioning the lives we want to live as fully present, wise, and joyful beings. I have found my daily use of EFT to be essential to this process. More than any of the emotional hygiene routines I practice tapping consistently promotes an increase in my energy levels, a more benign perspective of the world, and a deeper experience of peace. When I honour my grief and shed my tears during the tapping process, I create the openness that is at the heart of a balanced life. This openness is the most potent gift of aligning ourselves consciously with autumn as we attend to our personal letting go process. When we faithfully release those emotions and situations that present themselves at this time of year, life is able to bring us the next and the next and the next wonderful experience or insight. When we hang on to the dry husks of what we’ve already experienced, there is no room for fresh experience and we stagnate.
May this Autumnal Equinox bless you with the power of release, and with its power and mystery, may you create more space for the fresh new wonders that are waiting for you.
Until next week