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Above is the cover of my latest art journal. As I anticipate dipping my wellies into the puddles of autumn, I have found a safe place in this journal to turn inward. My intention is to create art journal pieces in this notebook regularly as I experience the change of seasons, and perhaps even (gasp!) delight in some of these changes. My hope is to at least immerse myself in the present moment and to find meaning in this tricky time of year for me.
The other day, during my recent CranioSacral session with my amazing therapist Ella, I told her how the transition from summer to autumn feels like a sticky, pin-prick, dung-infested slide into a black hole of despair. Her eyes widened. Then, I laughed, looked at myself, and said, “Well, maybe that’s a little melodramatic.” And then I said, “It’s actually more like I have amnesia every year at this time and forget how I mourn summer and feel my body resist the coming of Fall.”
She asked me some more questions about my autumnal amnesia, as well as questions about how my physical body was doing. I mentioned a tightness in my chest, some fatigue, and “oh yeah, I almost fell down the stairs the other day when trying to hang a piece of art.” I told her how I caught myself from falling by bracing my arms and hands against the wall and that I’d been a little sore lately. Needless to say, my little “side note” was the focus of the session, for I had tweaked my body in many places and was out of alignment and out of balance.
When I returned home from my Ella experience, I described the session to my partner Walter. In his usual insightful manner, he said, “Do you notice how you resisted falling?” Of course I didn’t want to fall. I didn’t want to take a face-plant into the tile at the bottom of the stairs. I didn’t understand what he was getting at. “No, he said. Your session with Ella was about resisting Fall and the whole session was in your response to resisting a fall. And in doing so, it hurt.”
Huh. We both contemplated this metaphorical conundrum. “So would I have hurt less if I had let myself fall down the stairs?” I asked. “Maybe this metaphor doesn’t work,” he said.
“Well, if I had fully let go, allowed my body to be soft, perhaps I would have fallen gracefully. Maybe my body would have been less stuck as a result.” And then the image of the “Nestea plunge” came to mind — an image I often associate with Summer, but thought perhaps it’s well-suited for Fall. Maybe a full surrender is needed, I thought. Perhaps I needed to risk getting hurt, letting my body be soft and receptive, and ultimately letting go.
Now I’m glad I didn’t fall down the stairs, but resisting a fall can sometimes cause more damage than actually falling. My body not only held tension from my close-call, but it held fear in it for sure. After the CranioSacral session I almost felt dizzy, like I was looking at the world anew, trying to realign myself. That is what Fall-ing is like, I realized. Entering Fall for me requires a whole-body surrender and a dose of 20-20 vision.
The quote at the bottom of the journal above reads, “May the hearers awaken from forgetfulness and transcend all anxiety and sorrow.” I didn’t realize until now how much this represents the path of Autumn — a relinquishing, a turning inward, a profound transcendence of stuckness, and a deep listening to the anxiety and sorrow that I often try to so hard to keep at bay. Fall is a time to listen to the lessons of our sorrows, to curl up in these lessons with a cup of warm tea in hand, and to transcend them by taking them in bravely, fully, and like a full exhale, letting them go.