Autumn is a time when the leaves start to change colour. As they start to whirl down one by one, they remind us that it’s time to take a step back and slow down. The endless summer nights long gone, and with every day the evenings get a bit darker. This season shows us how beautiful it is to let things go. I always think that means that it’s a perfect time to curl up on the sofa with a good book, warm and cosy inside, and allow myself to rest. But letting go is also an active process. It asks that you release your hold on things that no longer serve you and that you restore your equilibrium. So whenever I fall into a state of slumber, I remind myself that it’s important to keep doing the things that give me new energy. Whether it is writing in my journal, going for a long, beautiful walk in the woods, or doing a gentle meditation practice down by the river.
Retreats are wonderful things. I mean the ones where a bunch of people go to a beautiful location for an intensive experience of something or other, with lots of togetherness. I’ve been on quite a few. From summer art camps to meditation/yoga/martial arts retreats across Europe. Now I’m finally ready to stop forcing myself to sign up for them. You see, being in a group drains my energy and if I’m deprived of the time I need to restore that energy, I get ill. Surrounded by so many happy campers, I’ve always felt there must be something wrong with me. If only I would be stronger, less sensitive, more relaxed, I would be able to keep up with the others. But there’s nothing wrong with me. Where does it say that growth (or enlightenment) can only be found in this intensive group setting? I understand now that just because something is good, it does not automatically mean that it is good for me. To each her own way and her own prayer. Or as a beautiful voice once whispered in my ear: you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. For me that is doing a little practice down by the river every day.
As a child I was very intuitive. I instintictively knew things, and often had premonitions. But growing up my intuition got drowned out by other voices. Being an analytic philosopher didn’t help. Because I couldn’t frame any of it in logical terms, I didn’t know how to explain it. My inner voice was still there, telling me things, but I no longer listened to it. Einstein once said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” I was a living example of that. But last year I read the beautiful book A Still, Small Voice by Echo Bodine. Once I embraced my inner voice, it became louder. Sometimes it’s so loud that I find myself shouting back: “I hear you, I hear you!” I guess it wants to make sure I never ignore it again. Now that I’m learning to trust my intuition, life is much simpler. Things just happen without effort. Not only did it guide me to the sweetest creature, I found a new home within two days. For the first time in my life I no longer seek advice from others to make decisions. Why would I? I have my own inner wisdom.
I was supposed to brush my teeth mindfully yesterday evening. Somehow between getting into my pajamas and packing my bag, I managed to rush through it the way I normally do. My mind completely elsewhere, until the subtle beep reminded me that I had to switch to the other side. And then it went off, again: things I’ve said that I shouldn’t have; things I didn’t do even though they were on my schedule; thinking about what my tomorrow would bring etcetera. When I lay down in bed, I made a decision to get up five minutes early and brush my teeth mindfully the next morning.