It is deep autumn. The dampness of late summer has dried up with the first frost. The last of the leaves are hanging on, some still glorious in their purple, orange, red and gold. This is the season to gather our harvest and let go of what we no longer need. From a Chinese medical perspective, seasons and emotions are closely related. We are called, especially at this time of year, to ‘let go’ on an emotional level as well.
So what does this mean? The emotion related to fall is sadness: that feeling we experience when it is time to let go of something familiar, loved or routine. This, of course, is an integral part of life as we grow and change. The sadness we feel is healthy if it arises and then falls in accordance with the circumstance. Seeing a child off to college, making a change in jobs or moving to a new home can elicit the natural feeling of loss.
When we are healthy, we bounce back as we ride this natural ebb and flow of emotions. However, a feeling of grief that will not go away (or even worse, one that is not acknowledged) could give rise to disease. The nature of sadness is to drain vital life energy. This is exactly what happens when we suppress or stay stuck in sadness for too long.
This is not to say we are expected to be rid of grief immediately if the loss is profound. A tragic death of a loved one causes shock and then a layered movement through various emotions, with grief at the core. In cases like this, the survivor needs help and support: from friends and family, perhaps from professionals, and ideally from the community.
Whether our losses are profound or small, let’s breathe into them and face them head-on this fall. Know that our health depends on an awareness of and the willingness to immerse ourselves in the many colors of our emotional lives. While we enter the last half of autumn, let’s give ourselves a time of stillness to think of the things that clutter our lives whether it is an antiquated attitude, a life direction that is not viable, or a home that no longer suits our needs: letting go of these things is in our highest and best interest and ultimately those whose lives we touch. Let’s remind ourselves that, while there may be a period of grief, our working through it, however long it takes, will bring a needed sense of completion and well-being. New possibilities will be revealed even if we suffer greatly. “We grow strong in broken places” is one of my favorite sayings, and it is so true. Here is to autumn that leads us into the darkness of winter with its festivities of light. From there, we can progress into the natural light and movement of spring. Onward!