10/14/2011 12:58 am ET | Updated Dec 14, 2011

What Autumn Teaches Us About Letting Go

There seems to be a kind of order in the universe, in the movement of the stars and the turning of the earth and the changing of the seasons, and even in the cycle of human life.
~ Katherine Anne Porter

Early this morning, I took my daily trek down to my meditation garden. It is located in the middle of a grove of fruit trees and includes pomegranate, orange, avocado, plum, apple and peach. It being nearly the middle of October, some of them are beginning to shed their leaves, which is natural for fall in Southern California. What took me by surprise were two peach trees standing not more than 40 feet from one another. One tree had lost every leaf on it and appeared to be preparing for winter's sleep.

The other tree, however, still had every leaf on it and yet had not yielded half the fruit as the one gone dormant so early. "How can this be?" I thought. Both trees were planted at the same time and came from the same nursery. How can they have such different cycles and produce such different yield and quality of fruit? How can one tree still appear to be so full of life, and the other appear to be void of all life force when all other facts appear to be common and equal? I began to wonder if the trees in my orchard were each subject to their own "tree karma." If we are at all in tune with the principle of life, the answer is obvious: Every living thing has its own rhythm, even within the cycle of seasons, that dictates its expression and experience of life as a species.

As propitious timing would have it, my friend Myrna came to see me this morning (thankfully, after my walk to the meditation garden.) She shared with me that she had just lost a dear friend to pancreatic cancer. Being a spiritually grounded person, she was at peace in knowing that her friend has simply entered through the next door on his journey as an evolving soul. However, what did bother her deeply was the fact that he was still a young man who "had a lot more living to do here on this planet" when he succumbed to this disease. "It just didn't seem fair," she said.

I shared with her my observation regarding the two peach trees. As compassionately as possible I said, "Nowhere is it written that life is fair. Life is life and every living thing, including you, me and your friend, has its own rhythm and season for growth. We come and we go according to the inherent divine intelligence within that knows when it's time to bear our fruit -- adding what we have come to add to this earth expression -- and when it's time to shed our physical shell and move on to what is next."

Lao-Tzu wrote, "Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them -- that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like." My understanding of this statement is that we suffer when we judge that the quality of our life is defined by a long growing season. Let us not mistake quantity with quality. As I learned with my peach trees, the sweetness of the fruit is not necessarily determined by which tree clings to its leaves the longest. Our lesson is to let go and let God ... and trust the process.

As a mindfulness practice consider the following:

  • Give yourself the gift of spending some quality time outdoors in nature today.
  • Observe how the trees that change with the seasons don't struggle to hold on to foliage. They need release in order to be complete in their cycle of growth, preparing for what comes next in their evolution as "tree."
  • Also notice that not all trees are on the same time schedule. See if you can attune yourself with the rhythm of life to which each tree is responding.
  • Sense the grace and ease that is present there and invite that energy to move through you.
  • Know that you, and every person you have ever had in your life, moves to that divine ebb and flow. Feel the rhythm of your reality and let it have its way.
  • Notice that the result of doing so is a realization of peace that passes all understanding.
Note: This writing in an excerpt from my book, "The Art of Being ~ 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life." Used with permission of the publisher.