Autumn meditation

By Paula Frappier

Meditation is a beneficial practice often recommended by therapists to help people ease distress and anxiety. For some it is a moment of quiet that helps them restore balance and perspective.

There are many benefits to intentionally encouraging your brain to find a restful state, focusing on your breathing and shifting focus from business and chaos to quiet restoration. A moment of peace.

Resting your mind is a skill, however and does not come naturally or easily for many people.

Recently I supported a group of seniors to take a minute to reflect on the season using all of their senses. It was a lovely meditative moment that these people are now using to help guide their minds to a restful state.

I thought I would share the technique with you and offer some of their responses. Perhaps their experiences or insights will resonate with you.

First we made sure we were sitting in comfortable chairs and there were no distractions like TVs or other people chatting in our area.

We rested our eyes, either closed or looking at something pleasant to us, like a picture or out the window.

Next I asked them sensory memory questions about autumn. Meditation often works well if we can evoke memories from all of our senses that take us briefly out of the here and now and help us to remember positive thoughts. When we do a sensory imaging meditation we create a sensation of a quiet, happy moment.

Our senses help us connect with memories from our past, and can be powerful to use in meditation.

At first I asked “What is your favorite visual memory of fall?” Of course people said the colours of the leaves on the trees, and then they thought harder.

One person said the harvest and the fields of bright red, ripe tomatoes, others said the sight of apples on the tree branches, and pumpkins at the grocery stores. That made them smile.

Then I asked, “What smells or scents do you remember in the fall?” This stirred lots of great memories of baking pies (pumpkin and apple), the smell of cinnamon and apple cider, the smell of the leaves on the ground, damp and earthy.

The next sense I wanted to explore with them was taste. Of course the pies and cider came up again and then someone said turkey! This started a good reminiscence of Thanksgiving dinner tastes. One person then remembered fall fairs and the taste of candied apples and Halloween caramels and candies.

Next we moved on to our favorite memories of autumn sounds. This is a little trickier.

What do we hear in the fall? When prompted, the people started to remember the sound of the leaves crunching under their feet. The sound of Canada geese honking as they practiced their ‘V’ formation to head south and calls of other migrating birds. The rain and the autumn wind, and friends having fun and cheering together at a football game.

Lastly we talked about the tactile feelings or memories of what you touch in the fall. People immediately recalled the feeling of leaves that they had gathered up and how they crumple in your fingers and how the rake felt in their busy hands. One person had a vivid feeling of how the leaves felt as she jumped into a freshly raked pile with her friends as a child. That’s a fun one! Some remembered a warm soft favourite sweater, secure and comfortable.

Our senses awakened, we spent time sharing and reminiscing.

It was like a very small vacation from the other aspects of our lives. We had created a very real moment of relaxation and happiness.

A few of the people commented that they used these memories throughout the week, and were more aware of how beautiful this time of year is. They were able to take a moment, appreciate, reflect and calm themselves.

Did you think of your own sensory memories as you were reading through this article?

I hope that you are soothed and rejuvenated by trying this momentary mental vacation and multisensory meditation.

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Paula Frappier is an occupational therapist and community education coordinator with Homewood Health Centre/CMHA. The “Open Mind” column is sponsored by community partners who are committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. For local mental health resources/information, visit or call 1-844-HERE247.