The leaves are a reminder: they’re turning from green to gold to red on the liquid amber trees outside my window, and many have already fallen to the ground. The same thing is happening up and down my street, around the neighborhood, and across the land, as autumn unfolds.

When I was a kid, leaves were for kicking as I walked, and, with the other kids, raking into a big pile for us to jump in with glee. I still like to kick the fallen leaves when I’m out walking, and I still rake the ones that fall in my yard, but I no longer jump in the pile. I’ve changed, just like everything else. The leaves, and the mirror, remind me of this fundamental truth.

We all know that “everything must change, nothing stays the same,” as the song goes, and yet sometimes we act like it’s not true, as if we could prevent change, or control the process. We may expend a great deal of energy trying to control people and situations in our lives, in order to feel happier and more secure. But instead we end up exhausted, frustrated, and miserable, when things don’t go our way and people don’t do what we say.

2020 has been a doozy of a year for change. The global coronavirus pandemic forced change upon us:  changes in how and where we work, in how and with whom we can hang out, in how we buy groceries, exercise, school our kids, travel, worship, vote, and spend the holidays. Some of those changes might be good, many of them aren’t, but all of them coming at once can overwhelm our ability to cope, even if we have reasonably good stress management skills.

This is where mindfulness meditation can help. I’ve been practicing it daily for over a decade, episodically before that, and boy, can I see the difference it’s made, when I compare my stress levels to those of many of my friends, family, colleagues, and clients. I have been able to remain calm, centered, and focused, even during the recent election craziness. It works!

When we can come from a place of calm, centered, grounded-in-the-present-moment awareness, then we can weather the storms of change, chaos, and uncertainty that swirl around us, seemingly without end. And regular mindfulness practice can get us there.