This meditation is best done in silence. Allow yourself to enter into it emotionally, even if some of the images and feelings are unpleasant.

Imagine you are a leaf. You are a leaf living on an upper branch of a big oak tree. During the spring you grew, and in the summer you absorbed the rays of the sun, but now it is fall. The air is growing colder. The sun's rays are growing dim. Your leaf edges are crisping. You feel the stem that attaches you to the tree, and feeds your life, growing brittle. The sap of life seems to be drying up. With each cold wind of autumn you become more and more afraid of breaking off. You curl up to fend off the bitter wind. You cling desperately to the tree, frightened of being blown off. But all the time you know that winter is approaching. You cannot hang on forever.

One by one you see your friends blown off in the wind. The tree is growing more bare. You are more and more alone, but you continue to cling to the tree. Finally, one night there is a winter gale, harsh and chilling. It grabs you and tugs on you; you fight back with all your might, but you know you are losing. Finally, you feel your stem begin to break. You suddenly realize the end is upon you.

Drew Leder in Spiritual Passages: Embracing Life's Sacred Journey