Oh, hello leaves.
How friendly you are,
as you chatter beneath my soles.
Gathered on these sidewalk squares,
you bump orange shoulders gleefully.
A community descended,
to remind us of time's spell;
wisdom, rhythm, bronze and bone,
we all hum a vanishing tune.
How I long to grab up that rake.
To sweep you together,
higher and higher,
a mosaic pile of warm, crisp hues.
Go on, you whisper.
- Rena Satre Meloy
With each change of seasons, I’m often surprised by the subtle, yet strong little voice inside of me that makes itself heard….
“Please write! Maybe a poem?!”
Think Seuss's "Horton Hears a Hoo" and the teensy community that makes itself heard atop a speck of dust.
I can tie this source of inspiration directly back to my experience with most seasonal shifts: a combination of joyful butterflies for the physical world changing, and a very present sense of melancholy woven with nostalgia. I am eager for the future each new season brings, while readily reminded of my childhood and of time's determined passing.
I believe it’s this powerful mixture that compels me to capture even a glimpse of it through writing. It is also this mixture that gives me a ‘carpe diem’ sense of motivation and urgency: “Am I really making the most of my time on this earth?"
Curiously, or perhaps consequently, it is precisely during these times of transition that I feel most alive.
Are the leaves turning color? Are you shifting careers, moving in or out of a relationship,
or perhaps navigating an illness? All change holds a common thread: it calls us to pay attention.
Whether celebratory or uncomfortable, we are pulled out of our auto-pilot-whirrrrr and might notice new hues, take a surprisingly fresh breath of air, find the courage to take a new step (or leap?) or notice an emotional or physical pain that we’ve been busily brushing by for months.
While these moments may be fleeting, they are powerful and the more we pay attention, the more fully we are able to navigate life’s challenges and ultimately, touch into a deeper sense of contentment and happiness. This is not, as my dad would say, a "woo-woo" theory; this is continually evidenced through a growing body of neuroscience research. In the words of Paul Dolan, author and professor of Behavioral Science at the London School of Economics:
Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention.
What you attend to drives your behavior and determines your happiness. Attention is the glue that holds your life together.
It is at the intersection of this knowledge, the tangible shift into fall, and my perennial earthling desire for balance and happiness that I am drawn to my meditation cushion.
The best way to cultivate attention is to sit.
....and just sit.
...........and then sit more.
With plenty of leaf-pile leaping in between, of course.
About the Author
Rena is a meditation instructor, writer, and designer and has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for eleven years. Her studies began in college at the University of Redlands Meditation Room, one of the first "contemplative classrooms” in the country, where she studied meditation alongside her degrees in business and graphic design. She worked as a health coach for a Portland-based wellness organization, and spent six years developing her coaching and meditation skills through her work in the nonprofit sector.
Rena is currently studying positive neuroplasticity with Dr. Rick Hanson, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, and is pursuing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) certification through the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.