For today’s #InnerWork Wednesday, I wanted to share a short practice I developed for mindfully observing a leaf as it relates to inner work. Fall is my favorite time of year, and leaves work even better than pumpkin spice to connect me to the season. To complete this practice, you’ll need a leaf that has recently fallen from a tree.
Begin by using four of your senses to observe the leaf.
What colors are captured in the leaf? What patterns and shapes does it contain? Where is it ordered, and where do you see disorder? What happens where the stem and leaf meet? How do the edges differ from the center?
Sound and Texture
Hold the leaf in the palm of your hand. Can you feel its weight? What does its energy feel like to you? Move the leaf through the air. What sounds does it make? Crinkle a bit of it between your fingers. What does it feel like? What noises does it produce?
Sniff the leaf and notice any hints of smell that emerge from it. What scents do the decay it is undergoing release?
If the energy feels right, break the leaf into five pieces. You’ll be connecting each piece to a different element and experience. Alternatively, use five leaves total if you don’t want to break one apart.
Bury a piece of the leaf in the earth. What is the experience of digging in the dirt and covering up the leaf like for you? What do you notice about your surroundings as you bury it?
Wait until there is a breeze, and release a piece of the leaf into the air. What trajectory does it take? What are the characteristics of its flight? Where and how does it land?
It would be most interesting to light the leaf on fire and watch how it transforms while burning. Given the rampant wildfires in many places, a safer practice may be to expose the leaf to sunlight, noticing how its characteristics change in the light, and, slowly, how it decomposes.
Place the leaf in a puddle or another natural body of water. Observe its movement. How does the water change the way the leaf holds its shape? How much of it is above water, floating? How does it interact with obstacles such as the edge of the puddle, or other objects in the water?
Place the remaining piece of the leaf on your personal altar or in another sacred space. Notice any thoughts and emotions that arise from doing so. Continue to use your senses as you incorporate it into your altar space and ritual practice. Samhain may be a good time to return it to one of the elements from your altar. Or, you can let it dry out and keep it as a permanent piece of your altar decorations.