Autumn is a time of many moods and significances, some sad and some inspirational. During this season, we are moved by the dramatic changes of color, the cooler weather, the descending darkness, and the barren branches contrasted against the plain sky.

Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.-George Bernard Shaw

We see time and again during the fall, the trees shed their leaves as part of the renewal cycle. This is a universal principle that in order to grow, we must release something; that to develop into better human beings in every way possible, something and some old ways of doing things that no longer work.

Early in life, we believe that the whole world revolves around us. As we grow, however, we are in need of shedding another perspective and beginning to understand that cooperation, empathy, and respect will get us much farther in our relationships with others. 

Fall season reminds us that we all have out-model parts of ourselves that we need to let go of.  This allows us to sprout new ideas, improve skills, deepen our relationships, and grow on the spiritual path.  The old ways, however, don’t need to be tossed into the trash.  On the contrary, like the leaves that drop from the trees, they can serve as the foundation for new growth and fuel for renewal.

Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.-CS. Lewis

It is a natural law of nature that in a forest, the soil becomes rich and continues to feed the vegetation indigenous to the area largely by the compost of the dead plant matter that has fallen to the forest floor.  We have an inner garden that needs the same compost. For instance, the skills we used to learn and implement can be applied to new ones.  We can take what we have learned, digest it, retain what is useful, and expel what is not, just like our own digestive process.  Yes, there are always waste products with everything we consume, but that doesn’t mean we should never have eaten anything.

So it is with our lives. We’ve all made mistakes, said things we regret, made choices we wish were different. We’ve also done things or purchased items that were useful at the time, but now are nothing but a burden in our closet or a habit that keeps us from realizing new goals.

During autumn we take stock and decide what to hold on to and what to let go. This process may require us to practice forgiving our self or someone else.  It may bring us new opportunities, it may bring up grief, even if we know that what we are releasing is a good thing.  However, although we must all let go of our past, we should also integrate those into our experiences and learn from them. The leaves that fall lose their form, but as they break down into compost, their transformed substance continues to serve the growth and well-being of the tree.

As the trees learn to let go, we can release our grip through the logic practice of “non-clinging,” “non-grasping,” or “non-greed”. We must learn the importance of letting go of what we don’t truly need.  Hanging on to what is dead and no longer serves us, hinders our ability to embrace the new ones. It is better to let go than clinging to the past, so that we can become the best of who we are today.

Letting the leaves fall also requires us to face fears of the future. When we let go, we realize that we must step out into the unknown, and trusting that something is supporting us. But just as the trees let go of their undergrowth, having full faith that spring will come and new leaves will burst forth, we can have that faith through the winter, too.

Holding to our faith as our emotions rise and fall is spiritually important. We may be grieving a loved one or a phase of our life; or we may have moved to a new location and miss the old familiar places and friends. Let us breathe into the feelings, allowing our self to fully experience them; when they are spent, they, too, will drop away. It is fine to reminisce, but don’t wallow. We may review the past, bless it, and release it. And as we let go that old stuff, let us give our self-comfort, support through the process, slow down, make space for nourishing and restoring our self and create the foundations for abundant growth in the spring.

By Tim Pedrosa

The essence of all growth is a willingness to make a change for the better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails. Seek then to create change not because a thing is wrong, but because it no longer makes an accurate statement of who you are. -Neale Dkonald Walsch