Autumn…What it Can Teach Us About Mindfulness

There is a certain tree on the east side of town.  It is amazingly beautiful in its fall plumage.  In one maple there are shades yellow and gold and orange and red.  If I was more poetic I’d use words like ocher and crimson.  What is interesting is that I’ve had two different people talk about this particular tree.  It is that stunning.

Autumn is an amazing season.  I hear it all of the time.  People say…”fall is my favorite season” or “the temperatures are amazing with the warm crisp days and the cool nights that are perfect for sleeping”.  And of course there are the colors.

But here is the problem.  While people, including myself, are singing the praises of fall, they almost always follow it up with another thought…”but that means cold weather is coming” or “it won’t be long before we have to shovel snow again.”  I catch myself all of the time “I love fall but I hate that it means winter is coming.”

I think that is symptomatic of our society today.  We can never just enjoy the moment.  We are bad at being mindful.  We need to be thinking ahead.  We need to be worrying about what is coming. Even when there is nothing we can do about it.

I mean, think about it.  We have what many of us describe as the best season of the year and instead of just enjoying it, we need to complain about the coming winter when winter is coming whether we like it or not.  We would rather spend time and energy grumbling about something in the future that we can’t control than enjoy something amazing that is currently in our life.

So how much do you do this?  Not just about autumn, but about other things in your life?  When something great or fun or exciting happens, do you stop and enjoy it?  Or do you immediately leap into the future and talk about the potential bad or difficult or painful things that may happen?  Be honest.

I’ll bet you’ve done it.  I think most of us have.  Sure maybe to more or less of a degree but you’ve probably done it.  You won’t just enjoy…you can’t be mindful and stay in the present and appreciate the now.

Maybe it is time to learn the lesson of mindfulness from autumn. Just because it happens to come right before winter doesn’t make it any less beautiful or enjoyable.  And fretting about the coming of winter won’t stop it from coming.  It just makes us waste some of the most wonderful days of the year on something fruitless.

So when you see that tree…or feel the crisp air…just enjoy it.  If your mind starts to say “but winter…” yell STOP!  You are here, right now.  Be mindful and enjoy it.  The future will get here soon enough…even without our help.

About awentherapy

I am Jay Blevins, LMFT (www.awentherapy.com). I am a licensed systems therapist with a private practice in Madison, WI. While I work with individuals and partners around a wide variety of issues, my primary focus in on alternative relationship structures, alternative sex and sexuality, and power dynamics. I am a contributor to various relationship and sexuality blogs and publications and have been a frequent presenter at alternative lifestyle events and psychotherapy conferences.
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