As seasons change, so can we

By Marilynn Preston

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year, and it’s not just the oversized taffy apples. I’m talking crispy cool days that call for turtlenecks and yoga tights, a seasonal shift to fading colors and falling leaves, great sales on outdoor furniture.

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree,” writes Emily Bronte.

“This is the season of the harvest,” writes Elson M. Haas, “the fruition of all the growth of spring and summer.”

May I ask: Did you experience growth this spring and summer? (I’m not talking about your waistline.) Did you spend more time with good friends, or at farmers markets? Did you enjoy long walks, short naps, time spent doing things that move your body and refresh your mind?

“The changing pattern of the light reflects the cycle of the seasons and reminds us of the preciousness of our own time,” writes Phillip Moffitt in a Yoga Journal piece I’ve saved since 2001. “You may, as many do, feel a personal response to the fading light, experiencing it as a call for endings and the need for new beginnings.”

Yes! This is what autumn alerts us to, the end of one thing – diet colas? Striving for perfection? – so we can act on that innate call to new beginnings. It’s in our DNA. When the seasons change, so can we.

Sadly, however, fall is also the time of year when many people’s fitness programs fall off a cliff. It’s colder outside, it gets dark sooner, and our summertime push to play outside gives way to an overwhelming urge to hibernate indoors and overdose on taco chips and Twitter.

Resist! 

Harvest your best intentions, and consider the following:

Start a journal

I’ve said this a few (thousand) times before and here I go again: Keeping a journal is an easy and powerful way to help you create positive change. Your doctor can’t make you exercise. Health care reform can’t keep you from eating junk. Personal change is a personal choice. Keeping track online, or on paper, will strengthen your resolve, make you accountable, reinforce your intention.

Set a goal

Give yourself the next three months – November, December, January – to reach a goal that is meaningful to you. Run a 10k. Wean yourself off processed foods. Learn basic Spanish.

Be realistic. Create a goal that is small, measurable, totally doable. That’s the key to success. Decide on a detailed plan to realize your goal, write it down, and keep track of your progress – daily – in your journal.

Change is not linear. Expect backsliding. Don’t judge, just do … and when you notice the doing has stopped, begin again. Keep telling yourself that it’s the journey that’s important, even more than the destination.

Reap your reward 

This season, every time you decide to eat a meal at home instead of eating out, put $5 into a box. Then one chilly March day, count it up and spend it in spring on something that boosts your personal well-being. A better bike? Private lessons with your favorite yoga teacher? A visit to any one of our amazing national parks? Rewards work wonders when it comes to motivating change.

Prepare an indoor refuge

In spring, we clean; in fall, we find balance. Don’t fight the urge to spend more time indoors in fall, if that’s what your body is telling you. Instead, create a space in your home that is a true refuge, a place of calm where you can retreat, relax, renew.

Choose a corner, or dedicate a room. Incorporate soothing colors (pale blue for peace, pale green for balance) and use photos, quotes, stones, candles, this summer’s beach treasures, to create an environment that is separate and apart from the stress of daily life. Go there every day, to sit, to breathe. If you did nothing more than establish a 10-minute meditation practice this autumn, you’ll have changed your life in a profound and healing way.

Try something new

Before the autumn leaves disappear, sign up for something that will stimulate your synapses in the coming months. Bridge lessons? Ballroom dancing? Volunteering at the local food pantry?

Life-long learning is an essential part of personal well-being. It falls to you to make it happen.

Time to turn over a new leaf

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” – Jim Bishop

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