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Weekly Wellness Word: Discernment

Have you ever taken a minute to reflect on the seasons of the year? There are a lot of life lessons that we can learn from nature. Today we’re going to take some time to notice how the season of autumn can guide us on our own journey of healing and wholeness.

We want to take a few minutes to walk through a discernment practice that you may find helpful in navigating this very full season called autumn. One of the things that the season of autumn teaches us is about letting go.

As we open our eyes to see the leaves around us, we notice the different colors of the leaves. If you watch long enough, you might see one detach from the branch and float to the ground. The vibrant life in the leaves is ebbing away. If we think about it for a minute, we know that the trees have to let the leaves go in order to prepare themselves for a new season. To hold onto the leaves will prevent the trees from taking the next step in the cycle of life. The trees don’t die. They live on. Yet, they must surrender their leaves so they can save their energy for their winter’s nap. The trees need a rest. They have been working hard since spring and they’re tired and cold. They pull their sap back deep into their trunks to nourish their core through the long winter.

So the lesson the trees teach us is that sometimes letting go is necessary to create space for healing and wholeness. When we are faced with the decision about letting something go, we have to ask ourselves, “Do I want to be whole? Will letting go of this thing help me heal, recover, regain a healthy life balance, and bring greater wholeness somehow?”

Today I’m going to teach you a discernment practice that can help you ask yourself these types of questions.

If you are in a place where you can get outside for a minute, step into the grass and pick up a leaf from the ground. Choose one that stands out to you.

Now take a minute and look at your leaf. Notice its color, its shape, its size. Notice the veins running through the leaf and branching out into smaller and smaller lines and patterns.

For the purpose of our exercise today, this leaf is a symbol of something that you think you might need to let go of in your life. Try not to overthink it, but grab the first thought that comes to your mind of something that feels like it is draining your energy. Imagine in your mind’s eye the name of this thing you are thinking about letting go written in big, bold letters. Now imagine writing that name across the top of the leaf you’re holding in your hand. See it written there in your mind’s eye. Notice the flow of energy in your body as you imagine the name written there on the leaf. Does the name of this thing bring a sensation of the surging energy of new life or of waning and diminishing energy and strength? Take a moment to increase your awareness to your body’s response to the name of this thing written there on the leaf.

Now, in a moment you are going to let go of the leaf and let it fall to the ground. You are going to watch it as it floats down and as it lands on the ground. And when you do that, notice any changes of sensation in your body. Are you ready? Okay, here we go.

Drop the leaf. Watch it as it drifts back and forth and lands on the ground. Now notice the sensations you felt when you let go of that leaf, or the sensation that you are feeling now looking at it there on the ground. Can you name that sensation? Say it out loud. Good.

Now let’s take a minute and think about this simple discernment practice. Were you surprised at the sensations that happened when you let go of the leaf?

For some of you, you may have realized that your body is smarter than you are. Consider for a moment the wisdom of your body when it comes to managing your energy levels. The truth is that most of us are not very good at paying attention to our body’s signals of weariness. Perhaps you’re one of those people who push through life, loading your schedule up with back to back responsibilities and not even paying attention to how tired you are. And that weariness is not just physical, but it spills into your emotions as well. The heavy loads of responsibility you carry drains you emotionally. And, if you were truly honest with yourself, you often suffer spiritually as well. It’s a domino effect, isn’t it?

For many of us this fall has been a very different experience from previous years. Many of us are working from home now and the line of separation between our work life and our home life has become non-existent. Many families are also navigating children either participating in online school or a hybrid program of both home study and in class time. Now the holidays are around the corner and we are faced with tough decisions about how to engage with our family and friends during these next two months. Life is full and our stress levels are higher than ever.

So, this discernment practice with the leaf is just one tool that you might use to determine what things you should let go of by paying attention to this amazing body that God gave you. Your body is incredibly resilient, but it does have limits. God can speak to you through your body if you can take a moment to stop and listen. You might even say that physical sensations are your body’s way of praying to God for what it needs. If you are tired, I would encourage you to consider that perhaps that’s your body’s way of praying and asking God for a rest.

I do want to take a moment and say that this practice is just one tool among many that are helpful in discernment. The best means of discernment is to use many different tools that will listen to different parts of your being and see if they all agree. For instance, it’s always a good idea to incorporate prayer, reflection, contemplation and the wise counsel of other believers when discerning the decisions of your life. This leaf practice is just one way to make sure that your body, too, gets a voice in these types of decisions.

So, Friends, if your life is full to overflowing, take a minute and think of a leaf that you might be able to let go to create some space in your life. Maybe you have more than one leaf, perhaps you have a whole list of things and you are trying to discern which one is the right one to let go of. You might try going through this leaf exercise with each item on your list one at a time and notice your body’s reaction to each item on your list. #nourishyourbeing #weeklywellnessword

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