Finding rituals that work for you can be a great way to glide through transitions.
They can be anchors that help keep you connected and balanced.
Here are some other ideas for rituals with an autumn theme that also help to balance the vata dosha.
Getting outside + syncing with nature
Notice the changes and shifts around you. Subtle but a really nice way to stay present during the transition. Remember your activity from chapter 1? Stimulate your senses with smells and colours. Take a pad and pen and sketch/write about/scrapbook old leaves. Or make a mandala with your discoveries! Here's one of mine!
INSERT MANDALA PICTURE
Get creative with what's around you and connect with nature in a way that feels meaningful to you!
Perhaps you're lucky enough to have a log fire or wood burner. If not, plan a date to visit someone who does and when it's cold enough, spend the evening “slow living”, watching the fire, keeping computer and tv and phone screens off and instead turning inward, meditating with the helpful tool of the flames.
It wasn't until i moved to Norway that i realised how precious light was. I was amazed at how beautiful every house was, decorated with all kinds of lights and stuff in the Autumn/winter period - there's a name for it too: Koselig - translation, cosy. And it's just that. Norwegians celebrate the colder seasons like no other. No grumbles at the rain for you'll be told, “there´s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. Instead they make their inside spaces really koselig so it's nicer to be in there. I think that's a good way to go, especially as the nights draw in.
I've always loved a candle (thanks for that trait, mum!) and having a ceremonious outing to sniff out a plethora of them is a dream ritual. When i have the budget, i'll treat myself to one. This is the brand i tend to buy from in Brighton FYI- you can get them at Infinity Foods (not sponsored but feel free to @ me- lol).
It's a really simple way to create your own home ritual celebrating the light and dark cause we need them both.
Another light ritual that's great for releasing stuff is Trataka meditation - essentially watching at a candle flame in a dark room (without blinking very much!). The light from the candle offers a chance for steady focus and the tears are a form of cleansing and releasing.
ACTIVITY: Gratitude list and letting go
You are full. Complete as you are. Even if your life situation is not ideal right now, there's still room for appreciation for all that you are and that you have. A gratitude list can be a nice place to start. If it feels especially difficult, try starting small. I like to try this in the evenings at the end of a day and run through the positives, however seemingly insignificant. You'll soon find your flow.
Then, consider if there's anything you could use letting go of.
There's energy in owning stuff and it can be so freeing to give things away. Just like autumn leaves.
Try: writing your own gratitude list followed by another list of what you want to let go of. This is also a great practice around the full moon. Add candles and crystals (see below!)
Suggestions of things to let “fall” away
- Self sabotage
- Your inner critic (let em out the door/window/fire escape) INSERT BLOG POST
- Negative and unhelpful voices and behaviours
- Stuff you don´t need
- That dogeared Boyzone poster circa 1996
Many of you know i'm a fan of getting my crystals out! I realise it's not for everyone, but for me they are a powerful aid, reminding me that we are all comprised of energy, giving off and receiving all kinds of stuff at any one time. My stones offer a focus for how i want to feel, be it more energised, grounded, protected, cleansed and so on. Here's a good book if you´re interested in more: The Book of Stones. Again, not sponsored!
Oh and here's some inspo i've been collecting :)
Getting grounded with essential oils
My go-to concoction for grounding scents includes Frankincense, Clary Sage, Patchouli, Bergamot and Geranium. Lavender is also great for calming. I collect essential oils and use them in all sorts of ways, mixed with other oils, in the bath, in my oil burner (depending on compatibility) and on my yoga mat. Note: always dilute pure essential oils - a good book for usage is this one which i still use and gift after all these years. Again, not sponsored but feel i'm missing a trick here!
Massage can be a great way to ease out tension. We might find in the mornings that our joints crack - a sign of Vata - so starting your day with some gentle movements can get things flowing again. Try some simple hip/shoulder/wrist circles in different directions. You could also try rubbing or massaging the skin around your elbows, knuckles and knees - and don't leave out the feet! Using warm oil if it's appropriate is a great way to go - i favour almond. Stay moisturised and hydrated!
Pre-bedtime massage is also a nice treat and settles the nervous system. You can also try resting heavy pillows on your thighs for some extra grounding assistance - very relaxing. FYI i use cushions from Harold (the couch) and that works just fine.
There doesn't have to be rules around massage, do what feels good. Here's a little video of me demoing how you can use tennis balls for massaging yo-self!
Let go of what is heavy. Become lighter.
INSERT THE ABSURDITY OF LETTING GO
Be more effective with where you put your energy. A physical manifestation of that might be having a clearout. I like to revamp my stationary for example (no more grumbles when reaching for that scratchy blotty pen). I also like to transition my rail of clothes ready for autumn koselig: out come the knits, ribbed tops and tights. You don't need to have a new wardrobe (i've been telling myself for years that not being able to afford clothes has benefits too - lol), find the things you love and layer them up to create new looks. Realise there might be some frowns about this somehow implying “How you look is important”, but rather, this is about a feeling. How do your things make you feel? If something isn't feeling great, give it away.
And of course, checking your relationships and where your energy goes is also important. Are you feeling the way you want to feel with the people in your life? Any energy leaks or drains? See to that babes. Unfollow. Block. Ignore. Do what you need to do. Lifehack: You don't have to be friends with people you don't like. So protect your energy. Look after your space. Nurture those you want in your life. Plop them on your gratitude list eh?
We are the stars!
There's no getting away from it, we are comprised of and from nature. We are the stars. The earth. The sea. Space. But sometimes we forget or become distant from it.
I'm always astounded how deeply affected i feel by the moon for example. Or by going to the seafront or up a mountain. For centuries, we humans have found connection to something bigger than ourselves through nature. Whether it simply being, receiving perspective of our place in the landscape/universe, or a spiritual connection. Check out equinox at Chichen Itza for example.
Whatever your beliefs, nature is a wonderful way to remember yourself. To appreciate and celebrate transition, change and cycles. Autumn is a time when many trees shed their leaves. When hibernation preparations are in action. Things die off and become something else. The energy captured via photosynthesis in the leaves transitions to become nourishing food for the ground. Although autumn isn't as extreme a season as the spicy heat of summer or the often bleak wintertime, it's a colourful, very visible transitional season.
Rise and shine
Going to bed earlier and waking earlier can be a great way to get in tune with the rhythms of autumn. Starting to slow down when the sun starts to set (where possible!) helps us to align more with the season. Of course, in “real life” with “real life jobs and duties”, it's not always possible to meet our primal rhythms, but we might try it subtly. Going to bed earlier is a good place to start, even if it's just by 5 minutes every few days.
By heading to bed a little earlier you might find you can also get up earlier too. Having some space at the start of the day to appreciate the light. A cuppa. A meditation on the space you created for yourself. A walk if time allows. Some dog/cat meetups (IRL or youtube). Slowly ease into your day. It's different to summer, where we might bound out of bed as the sun bursts through the curtains so give yourself space to take your time!
Perhaps a yoga practice might help you get going!
Get koselig and close to nature! illustration by Essi Kimpimaki
Adjusting to time:
Of course, Autumn is when the clocks go back - hooray! An extra hour- what will you do with it?
For many, it can really unsettle the system. Just what we need when navigating transitions eh?
When i'm trying to get into a new sleeping habit, i tend to leave the curtains open - not for an audience, mind, but so that in the morning, my body can naturally adjust to sunrise. (Sidenote, I realise in Norway that leaving curtains open is quite common anyway, which i love!). If you´re commuting to London or anywhere else and you´re already rising before the sun, perhaps you could look into other tools e.g.
Reclaim your time
“I just don’t have the time...”
Autumn vata text----
We´re very much a culture of busy. Time is one of those seemingly elusive concepts that there never seems to be enough of. Often, it´s those of us who are busiest that could benefit most from slowing down and implementing some space for ourselves in the day. Often we worry that the world will stop or that everything will fall apart if we´re not all over it, but it´s always useful to remember that we can set the pace for how we approach things.
No, that doesn´t mean that things still come at us and demand our attention, but it does mean we can choose how to respond to it. More on that below (stop the glorification of busy)......
There are seasons in our lives for being out there, grafting, getting shit done, and just as importantly, there are times for us to pause to reflect, take stock, to do not a lot. Just as nature is very much dependant on the fine and intricate balance of life, so we must also concern ourselves with the appropriate ways for us to find balance. In whatever form. If you´re ever in doubt about the cycles and your part in them, take a little walk, observing what´s around you. You might be able to see the obvious signifyers of the season. Perhaps you can listen out for the sounds. Yeah, beyond the traffic. Notice the smells as well as the colours. Use your senses to
ACTIVITY: EARLY NIGHT
Challenge yourself to an earlier bed time. Start winding down an hour before bedtime - shut down screens and so on. I like to do a few bits of gentle fixing around the house, creating space and order so that when i wake in the morning it can be easeful and not loaded with a pile of washing up. If you like to take a morning yoga practice, this is a good time to lay out what you need - perhaps it´s simply clearing some space on the floor, you might use mats, props, rugs, a chair, blankets, candles, crystals, whatever helps you to cultivate your sacred space. So when you rise, there´s less to do between you and your practice. I have a couple of evening rituals too, such as an alternative mouth hygiene ritual, a skincare ritual and when i´m not feeling too tired, braiding my hair. I love to read, so getting 30 minutes of time to read in bed is the ultimate luxury. Then, lights out. If i´m still struggling to sleep, i´ll take some breathwork in bed or if i´m totes restless, i´ll take some super mild and gentle yoga practice
EVENING YOGA PRACTICE INSERT
Sync your menu with the seasons
We might choose to eat seasonally and locally where possible. Earthy vegetables are in my joy club all year round. Being mostly Vata in my Ayurveda constitution, grounding foods are great for me, so although i love a hearty salad, it´s only going to take me so far into autumn. But before heading down strict diet rules, i really recommend you do YOU.
I also recommend getting support from professionals - your doctor and/or a nutritional therapist. I learned that the hard way when moving to Norway as a vegetarian...it didn´t go well, i thought i was getting Rickets! I don´t say that to scare you, just to remind you that just like nature, your body is an amazing ecosystem. It´s all about the balance and getting the right nutrients, fat, energy and minerals for your body. That will differ depending on your constitution, your environment, how you spend your days etc. So take care of you.
In yoga terms, Pratyahara refers to a “folding in” of the senses. You can read a bit more about that here if you´re interested.
For me that looks like adjusting the space i practice in at home. I´m in a more “cocoony” phase.
Setting up my crystals (!) and cards in an altar near my mat.
Lighting a candle.
Wrapping up like a sausage in a blanket for meditation. I almost wrote pig there.
You get the gist.
Creating space to be solitary.
Space to process.
Space to space out.
Go slow. Take your time. Tread gently. And give yourself time to adjust.
I hope you stay well and warm in this shape shifting time.
Here's to the transitioning towards autumn in our own way!