I just returned from Sweden, where I spent two weeks in the wilderness to facilitate my latest Rewilding Journey. Up in the mountains, Autumn is at its peak. We lived on a carpet of scarlet blueberry bushes scattered with golden birch leaves. My hands were blotted purple from eating too many blueberries. One of my companions described our time up there as an effervescent acid trip. This rings true because being up there for some time feels so unfamiliar, yet it all makes perfect sense.
Through her mesmerizing beauty, nature spoke to us. Her wordless language became easy to decipher when we settled down after a few days. By becoming silent and attentive, we stopped shaking the murky bottle of our minds. The mud settled, and our inner waters became clear.
All we needed was some time without distractions. Time to focus on nothing in particular while doing what is necessary to keep ourselves alive. We made shelter and fires to cook on, navigated thick spruce forests in the valley, and ate berries up in the hills. Sitting around the fire, stirring our pots, we shared silence and our stories.
Clarity can be confronting. Slowly we discovered where we had been untrue to ourselves, where we took a misstep, where we lost our connection to what feels right from deep within—lived by others or the circumstance instead of our own source. Nature allowed us to be confronted with the darker regions of our being. This is a vital process, especially in Autumn.
Clean up and clear out your life
Everything around us was releasing and letting go. The birch trees were not in a hurry, dropping one leaf at a time, perhaps a gust of wind taking a few more, gently but steadily returning to their essence. The Autumn energy initiated us, inviting us back to ourselves. A slow process that purifies and strengthens, preparing for Winter’s silence.
After a week or so, deeply attuned to the wilderness, all of us were contemplating how to clean up and clear out our bodies, our relationships, our home, and the things it contains. Autumn lived in all of us. We exposed dying parts of ourselves and allowed them to be consumed by the fire, setting intentions for what to do and how to be when we returned.
I burned the discomfort of being alone by consolidating myself with my shadows. I allowed them to co-exist in my being without the need to distract myself from feeling their presence. This means I vowed to be the rock in my own storm, a steady and unmoving presence in my own life that favors virtue over comfort; the no man’s land where my stoic self meets my open and surrendered heart to find peace.
And then we returned. A step back in time, everything still so green and lush. Old pathways in my mind enticed me to fall back into habits that are no longer true. But the strength and awareness I cultivated in the wilderness still echoed in my being. The no to my old self is stronger than the yes. Truth wins when I am strong enough.
Allow nature to free up your energy
Releasing and surrendering is not supposed to be easy, for our old selves have served us in the past. Nothing is without use in nature. Even if your life has turned stale and your soul longs for a different direction, part of us remains attached to what is known and safe. Therefore, it is important to sink into deeper silence and allow yourself to see where you’re holding on.
Step into the healing space of not-knowing and rest there. As long as you remain there, nature will undress you slowly and expose you to whatever is dying within you. Do not look away. Face it and thank it for contributing to your life, however painful or traumatic, so your old self can die in peace. Then make a vow to ignore old pathways in your mind because habits can be tenacious. This way, energy will be freed up to focus on everything that remains true and essential in your life.
Autumn carries within it the seed of change. But first, we need to create fertile soil. Use your past as compost and remain rooted in your presence, allowing the purification process to unfold naturally, leaf by leaf.