The area where we live is rich in ancient woodlands and, at this time of year, it is a delight to witness our hillside change colours: the lush greens of Summer are now being replaced by the golden and rusty tones of Autumn. It is a beautiful scene that not only takes my breath away but also offers a wisdom to me.
This show of yellows, oranges and reds is an indication that trees are responding to the weakening power of the sun, the shorter days and the dropping air temperature. In preparation for Winter when there is not enough sunlight for them to make food to nourish themselves through their leaves, trees begin to rest and store their energy and resources in their roots and at their core. This process takes the green away and exposes the flaming yellows, oranges and reds that adorn the trees in the Autumn. What can this teach us?
Using the natural world around us as a guide, at the time of the Autumn Equinox, we are invited to rest and conserve our energies within, to shift our gaze inwards, to reflect on what has been, what is and what is to come. Now is a time for quiet contemplation to bring balance, meaning and peace into our inner lives and the trees around us, in their period of transition and change, are the perfect companions to support our contemplation or mindfulness practice.
Here is my suggestion for a simple meditation exercise: find a tree and make contact with it; touch it, look closely at its changing leaves and imagine the sap flowing slowly through the branches then the trunk and retreating deep into the centre of the tree to prepare for a period of rest... as you continue to make contact with the tree and its parts, turn your attention to what is happening inside of you, see if you can find your own core as a place where you can direct your energy and store our resources... notice your sensations, your thoughts, your emotions... without judging them or engaging with them. Just be curious about your experience in that moment with the tree as your companion and guide.
A regular mindfulness practice, especially when practised outdoors in Nature, brings valuable benefits to our health and wellbeing as it brings us closer to and more in tune with ourselves. I have discovered that the Welsh phrase "dod yn ol at fy nghoed", which means "to return to a balanced state of mind", literally says "to return to my trees". May you hear the mellow call of Autumn and make space for reflection and quiet contemplation in your life. May you return to your trees.