A definition of refinement: becoming aware of, then removing or eliminating the unnecessary, thereby allowing the wanted and necessary to come into full clarity.

Autumn has officially taken full effect. The leaves are radiant in their rainbow colors, the temperature has dropped to a warm 40-50 degrees, and the coats and boats are out - parading all over the city. As we shift individually to accommodate the accessories that come with this season, so too does our environment on an energetic level - charging us subconsciously.

We’ve stepped out of the earthiness of late summer, and officially shifted into the next cycle: the season of Metal. According to Chinese medicine Autumn is fully dedicated to the Metal element. It is the season of alchemy - the time when all the unharvested compost settles into the soil and is transformed into precious stones and hot beds of nutritious earth. It’s a time of process that requires a little bit of pressure and patience. A knowing that the end result, which will be uncovered in spring, is exceedingly more valuable and nourishing than anything that could be formed in an instant.

It’s an element that can be sharp, for sure, because cutting out what doesn’t support the end goal is not always friendly, but it’s honest and solid - an organic judge of what goes and what stays.

This process of distillation and simplification is exactly what I think of when I hear the word refinement. It’s being given something broad, undefined and unclear, and then removing the excess to get to the essence. Filtering out the noise.

It’s the process of extracting truth.

So how does that relate to the human experience? To each of our personal experiences?

We each have a finite amount of time to spend enjoying this life, and each of our life stories has the opportunity to be written exactly how we want it to. We have the choice to take what we’ve been given from our ancestors, our teachers, our environments and continue to go through the same patterns and motions that came before us. We have the choice to be unconscious and undefined.

But we also have the choice to understand what we’ve been given, to be unafraid of and hungry for truth, to expose all of the options, and choose what individually feels right for ourselves. We have the choice to decide how we want to spend each moment - how active we want to be in our relationships, our communities, and our internal journeys of progress and growth. We have the choice to extract our own sense of right and wrong, what stays and what goes, what our truth is.

We all know how right Socrates was when he said the unexamined life is not worth living. Refinement is alllllll about that necessary examination.

For the purpose of being active participants in our short time here, observing our lives - personal, familial, professional, creative, etc. - we must cultivate a practice of self study (svadhyaya in Sanskrit) and then release of the irrelevant. Letting go is actively choosing to hold on to what you most appreciate. And holding onto what you most appreciate means filling your life only with people, things, habits, actions, reactions, memories and experiences you love.

I say letting go as if it’s always easy - I know it’s not, and I know some things take years to process and release. But it’s worth the work - knowing that the future end result could be the most precious stone or crystal that you’ve ever witnessed. That you created.

I’ll leave you with a few questions to ponder and perhaps answer for yourself over the course of the next few weeks:

  • What part(s) of my life feel undefined or disconnected? Alternatively, what parts of my life feel very clear and connected?

  • Are there parts of myself or my life that I avoid paying attention to and processing because they’re uncomfortable? How could I become friends with these parts of myself to understand and clarify them more?

  • Do I carry any habits, reactions, emotional processes that are detrimental or unhelpful? Ideally, what would I replace those with?

  • In what areas of my life have I succeeded in creating clarity and definition on my own terms?

Happy November loves :)

xo Hollis

Hollis Maloney