As the days get darker and I watch the Autumn winds scatter the colourful leaves, I am feeling like a tree that wants to slowly sink inward to rest, reflect, and recharge for the winter. We are part of Nature and it's cycles teach us the balance that we need in our lives.
Imagine if you will, how humans lived before electricity. We lived closer to nature automatically, with only the light of a fire or candle to keep on doing. We went to bed earlier and slept longer. Gratefully, as gathering the harvest to sustain us through the winter has been all consuming. The body is weary and although harvest is winding down there is just enough daylight to bring the rest in and begin planting garlic for next year.
There are still things that can be done in low light, like shucking beans, crafting, etc, that are also relaxing and satisfying. Shall we say contemplative?
Don't get me wrong, I love all that the conveniences of electricity and technology. The trick is to stay connected with Nature as well, and find the balance that is absolutely necessary to thrive instead of just survive.
Many traditions reflect these teachings. One of my favorite's is the Michalmas celebration at the Waldorf school my children attended.
Michalmas at Waldorf
Every year near the end of September, the students of the Waldorf grade school gather together to perform the play Saint Michael and the Dragon to mark the festival of Michaelmas. This festival is known as the Festival of the Will, the Festival of Courage. Performing the play is one of those school traditions that the children look forward to with great anticipation, particularly the children in Grade Three, who get to dress up and take the part of the dreaded Dragon. The play tells the story of townsfolk who face the fearful prospect of the Dragon coming to devour one of them once every year. They call on St. Michael, who helps them subdue (not slay) and thus redeem the Dragon. With the power of iron in their blood, the townsfolk learn to face their fears and shortcomings with courage and determination. In the words of the play: “Iron brings courage to Face what you fear, The dragons out there and the Dragons in here.” John Miller writes in a more adult way about the festival of Michaelmas: ..After the equinox, the days grow shorter, and we must prepare for winter. Inwardly, too, we feel the change. The outer dread of nature’s death corresponds to a multitude of fears within….In many ways, we come face to face with the Shadow, the “who we are” that we don’t want to be. The journey of individuation is a fearful one, for what could be more daunting than to gaze unflinchingly at ourselves.
Michaelmas is a season that extends from late September through to All Hallows’ Eve, technically – and our observance of Michaelmas is to serve us as we find our resilience, our inner strength, and our resources – as we begin to get a taste of the dragons that we may have waiting for us in the colder, darker months ahead, and we prepare to meet and tame these dragons by doing so.
Balancing the Light and Darkness Within
When the Autumn leaves begin to fall it signals the need to balance light and darkness within us. Far too often, we fear the dark and adore only the light. Joyce Rupp, a Catholic writer and poet, challenges us in Little Pieces of Light to befriend our inner darkness: "I gratefully acknowledge how darkness has become less of an enemy for me and more of a place of silent nurturance, where the slow, steady gestation needed for my soul's growth can occur. Not only is light a welcomed part of my life, but I am also developing a greater understanding of how much I need to befriend my inner darkness."
What is self-reflection? At its heart, self-reflection is setting aside time to evaluate your thoughts, attitudes, motivations, and desires. It's examining your emotions and behaviors and then asking yourself, “Why do I feel and act this way?”
Too often we don’t stop to pause and take a deep breath. We keep moving. We live on auto pilot. We push through. We stay in jobs that are (literally) killing us, relationships that zap our energy, circumstances that leave us stressed, unhappy, frustrated and tired.
We keep running on the treadmill of life thinking we don’t have time to waste. So we keep moving in order to keep up. But too often, we just crash and burn. That’s because the only way to keep up with the pace of life is to STOP. To hop off the treadmill. To reflect on what’s working and what’s not.
The practice requires sitting with yourself, taking an honest moment to think about what has transpired, what worked, what didn’t, what can be done, and what can’t. Reflection requires courage. It’s thoughtful and deliberate. Being at the “top of your game” only comes when you extract from your past how to engage the future.
Go easy on yourself. Reflection — well and truly done — is ego-bruising. Always remember that excellence is achieved by stumbling, standing up, dusting yourself off, then stumbling again. If you study those stumbles, you’re much less likely to fall down in the future
Trees: Supporting Us Through The Dark
Trees serve us in so many ways. Especially obvious is the symbiotic oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange that we share. I have been working with and sharing various forms of healing with trees for years. They have so much to give us and will support us through the dark.
Just recently when walking through Cathedral Grove in BC I saw this sign.
It confirmed in a new way the powerful metaphorical medicine that trees have to offer. Anchors and Armour supporting a Heart. "The heartwood is the oldest wood and gives the tree it's strength."
The tree of life is an ancient universal symbol, representing and incorporating the cycles of life, and the various aspects of ourselves.
An easy way to receive healing and support from a tree that anyone can do at anytime is to just lean into a tree when emotions are heavy It will share it's strength with you and even draw out and take away your pain. If you ask a tree to help you, it will. You only need to allow it. You will literally feel the undesirable energy begin drawn from you. Just stay with it until the appropriate release is achieved. Be sure to express your gratitude to the tree.
Tree Of Life Meditation
Trees help ground us when the winds of change or chaos blow through our lives.
The following 11min meditation will guide you through connecting with and becoming a tree. You will experience the solid core of your trunk, anchored and supported by your roots deeply embedded into the Earth for nourishment and strength. You will experience rising up into your branches to receive the light and nourishment from above.
You will centre into the Heart of the tree and find the perfect balance of strength and flexibility that will help sustain you through the storms that blow through from time to time...
For more recorded meditations or to join me live weekly go to https://www.nikbalogh.com/meditation