Today I’m writing you from southern Spain, one of my favourite places on earth. I’m here with my wife Christine leading a group of explorers through a week of practices to support renewal, deep rest and inspiration. I’ve been teaching retreats for 15 years, and each time I’m reminded why I love it so much. Whether it’s a month or a mini-afternoon, a retreat is an opportunity to intentionally interrupt our patterns and remember what’s important. These habit patterns are deep grooves in our psyche that keep us on automatic pilot and make it difficult to be present in day to day life. In slowing down, retreats remind me how precious life is, the value of deep human connection, and the importance of recalibrating with the rhythms of nature. I’m very grateful I get to do this as my work.
With Fall in full swing, the season of harvest and thanksgiving, I’m wondering what you are feeling grateful for? What are the things that are place in your life that you can take a moment to feel appreciation for?
According to one of my teachers, the naturalist and author Jon Young, “practicing gratitude can be a powerful routine for clearing grief.” When I first heard this, I thought it was a little strange. To me, the feeling of gratitude was inherently uplifting, bubbly and happy, and less about sadness. But when I did a little trial of daily gratitude practice, it started to make sense. Jon would say, “grieving is like pooping“, it’s not something you do once and a while, “it’s something you do everyday“. I began to notice how beginning and ending each day with: “what am I grateful for today,” I would have to let go of a lot of clutter to get to the answer! Sometimes I would feel spontaneously grateful, almost by accident, but for the most part I’d have to weed through the everyday noise of to-do lists and low-grade irritation that filled my psyche. I would need to drop the ways I was blocking the awareness of what was good about the moment because I’d conditioned my brain to notice what was out of place more readily than what was working well. There’s a lot that’s been written about the negativity bias and its role in the survival of our ancestors, but to access gratitude we need to let go of that bias, and hear the signal through all the noise.
According to Eastern Medicine, Fall is the season of the Metal Element, the Lungs, Intestines, Skin, Lymph and Immune System. In fall we have easy access to working with grief, the emotion of the Lungs, and Nature is mirroring this process of letting go in the natural cycle of the seasons.
Although they are not anatomically connected in the body, the primary functions of the Lungs, Intestines and Skin are the same: taking in nutrients and eliminating waste. The great American osteopathic physical and healer, Robert Fulford said that 97% of the bodies elimination, necessary for proper detoxification, happens through these three organs.
- 70% through breathing
- 20% through the skin
- 7% though the colon,
- and the remaining 3% through the urine.
Hanging on to the toxicity of extra baggage could be a reason for feeling sluggish or constantly catching the latest bug from a weak immune system. Fall and the Lung season is the time to de-clutter through gently but deliberately “marie-kondo-ing” your life. Sell, donate or repurpose physical stuff that might be of value to others. Examine mental attitudes stored in your consciousness, and write/meditate/reflect to reveal ones from your subconscious mind. Reach out and resolve old issues with people in your life so you can release and let go of psychic baggage. For things that can’t be resolved, take some time to write down issues on paper and burn the paper as a symbol of letting go.
In this phase of the Natural Cycle we have access to a greater aliveness as we breath in the crisp freshness of Fall the fall air. With each exhale, we can take the time to remember what’s most important and feel a renewed sense of inspiration with the inhale. I hope it’s a time for you to take in more of what you need and let go of what’s no longer serving you.
In good health,