By Dawna Matthews
The fall season is upon us and, with it, the autumn equinox. This is the time of balance, when day and night are of equal length. It is the portal into the darker, composting half of the year lasting until spring, when the light emerges and life sprouts again. This year, the equinox falls on Sunday, September 22. The autumn equinox is a beautiful time to begin an inward journey. It is a time to give thanks for the harvest of life and all that has sustained our bodies, homes, families, communities; and our hearts, inspiration and passion.
One of my favorite times of year, fall is all about balance in the midst of change and transition. The autumn equinox reminds me to balance all parts of myself, outer and inner, and come into harmony while the world changes around us. As the winds blow and leaves turn color and fall to earth, we may feel many changes on physical and emotional levels. We may experience physical dryness, colder hands/feet or joint pain. Fear, anxiety and insomnia may present themselves, and we may feel as though we need centering. We may feel less grounded; or we may be forgetful, tired, maybe even prone to illness as the weather changes. How we care for ourselves during this time will help us to maintain health, balance and energy throughout the season as we move to a quieter state of being and savor simple ways.
Since fall is usually cool, windy and unpredictable, we want to fill our lives with warmth, nourishment, loving relationships, groundedness and stability. We use the opposite elements of fire (warmth), water (lubrication), and earth (grounding). They are vital to the fast pace of fall’s air and space elements. We seek to balance through a harmonizing dance. Try these tips for a grounded fall transition:
1. Follow a regular daily rhythm and flow for sleep, exercise, meals and rest. Try to accomplish these things at the same time each day to provide some stability for the body and mind.
2. Rest. Do less, breathe deeply, turn within. Get sufficient rest. The number one remedy for increasing the body’s immune power is rest. Try to go to bed between 9:30 and 10 pm. Try not to overstimulate the senses 30-45 minutes before bed. Enter a place of stillness — stare at the moon/stars. Meditate on things you are grateful for, or gaze at a candle. Listen to the quiet and enjoy the stillness.
3. Give yourself an oil massage every morning before you shower. Try to take full advantage of the silence, stillness and peace intrinsic to the early morning hours. Then you can calm your nervous system, awaken your tissues, and ground your energy. Massaging your skin with warm organic sesame oil infused with essential oils is amazing. Follow this practice with a warm, relaxing shower. Heat from the shower helps the skin but also grounds energy in the body/mind that makes you anxious or interferes with sleep. Also, at night, massage feet with warmed oil and cover with socks before bedtime.
3. Hydrate. Start your day with water and lemon. Drink nutritive warming herbal or spice teas throughout day (ginger or spice tea).
4- Emphasize gentle exercise. This time of transition can make us very easily aggravated by fast, mobile activities. Instead, consider slow, gentle, strengthening forms of exercise. This will help pacify the cool, drying qualities of the season. Consider gentle sun salutations/mild forward bends and twists, walking, biking, swimming.
Other Lifestyle Tips
1. Enjoy cooked, warm meals seasoned with delicious pungent, sweet, spices as well as some sour tastes. In autumn, we ground and strengthen with grains, root vegetables, comforting nourishing stews and teas.
2. Wear layers. Keep yourself warm, as weather changes often in fall. Wear autumn colors when appropriate. Avoid too much black, as it absorbs light and can leave us with a feeling of vastness/emptiness.
3. Treat yourself well. Soak in a mineral bath with essential oils (lavender/citrus/geranium/vetiver) or epsom salts. Minimize your exposure to drafts, loud noise, aggressive music, fast driving and excessive activity.
4. Focus on more intentional and fluid exercise. Warm up slowly and rotate your joints. I love gentle yoga flows such as a more relaxed sun salutation and other standing grounding poses such as mountain, warrior I, warrior II, and tree pose to increase stability and strength. Connect with the earth beneath you in poses such as thunderbolt, cat cow, cobra, and child’s pose. Quiet the mind with forward bends. Gentle inversions and restorative poses such as legs up the wall are also very good for this time of year. Close your practice with a long shavasana, covering yourself with a blanket so you don’t get chilled. Let time melt. Let the earth support you and feel nourished, loved and restored.
Now that the growth cycle of the year (spring and summer) has reached completion, take some time to pause and reflect on what you have achieved this year. Aligning your own energies with the natural rhythms of the earth and the sun’s cycles allows you to enjoy rest, contemplation and renewal during this beautiful time of the year, and fall easily into the new season. Have a joyous fall! What are some rituals or ways you like to welcome autumn?
“This is not a time for action, but a time to drift, to dream, to vision and remember. It is a time for meditation and welcoming inner stillness, for long term plans and for nourishing our spirit.” From Earth Wisdom by Glennie Kindred