I wanted to share a monster post with you talking about the significance of the autumn equinox and offer some Self Care Tips and ideas for Rituals to help you transition and find balance.
Although it feels strange to talk about autumn when it´s still Blazin´ (Squad...sorry, i couldn't help myself), the Autumn Equinox is almost upon us. The winds of change. Reaching the point of equal day and night. Leaving the glorious and gluttonous summer behind make big shifts as we transition towards winter. Endings and beginnings...Can you feel it?
My relationship with Autumn
I used to really struggle with this time of year. The S.A.D was real. Living in Norway and experiencing the extreme weather and darkness of winter that was literally like an episode of Fargo (just with more rain), i struggled to find the light. Literally.
But experiencing my fair share of Norwegian winters really gave me the greatest gift: To really appreciate this idea of creating light for myself. Yeah yeah, i know that might sound like something cheddary you see on Pinterest (...and i do spend a fair amount of time on there to be fair...) but it´s true. It's good to remind ourselves that you can *ahem* weather the storms of autumn and winter, the shifts and turns in between, and in fact, any wild ride be it a change in season or a massive life shift.
But you have to start with yourself first. Nahmean?
...You know what i'm going to say here. It's about self care (again..) but it's core to all of this. Because it's necessary. You can read all the links/articles/magazines/blogs you like that tell you "click here for the only 10 things you need to get motivated/find your pizzaz/get a job/be happy this season", but it's not going to change anything unless it comes from you. That is, with your own reflections and considerations. It's not a one-size fits all thing.
But- there might be some stuff of value that pings your pants whcih you can apply or adapt for yourself to get what you want. Be it balance. Contentment. A job. Self acceptance. etc.
So, I´ve written this monster blog for you about this thing called the Autumn Equinox, which is a super symbolic moment in our calendar, but it can be applied to life whatever the season. There´s offerings and some examples of things that you might explore, but see what works for you. I really hope it helps you to find inspiration and the balance you need to ride out transitions, *ahem* whatever the weather.
This is the equinox in a conker shell! We are literally teetering on the cusp as the length of daylight and darkness become equal. We experience two equinox (is this the plural?) per year, one as winter shifts to spring and the other as summer moves into autumn.
This year's Autumn Equinox will begin at 21.02 GMT on Friday 22 September, so our days will begin to get shorter and we start the shift towards winter with longer nights and darker days.
Farewell to summer
Goodbye to that lighter, more energetic season, a time where we are busy packing in lots of activities and probably outside a lot. Autumn in contrast, offers a period of harvest: things dying off, coming to a natural end, a time we become more introverted, reflective and, well, simply not as energetic as summertime.
As the trees shed their leaves and go back into the earth, we are also afforded the opportunity to draw in, retreat, reflect and reconnect by releasing the stuff we don't need. Because with endings also come new beginnings. We are part of a bigger cycle.
Autumn and the mind-body connection
Naturally we are connected to our environments and this is a potent time for contemplation, with visual symbolism all round. Take autumn leaves and colours for example, the ample reds, oranges, yellows and some greens - all representing the lower chakras - synonymous with the more primal and downward moving energies via the root, sacral and solar plexus. We grounding baby!
Perhaps you're noticing around this time that you´re feeling unusually tired? Or perhaps experiencing a chill in your shoulders? Sniffles emerging? Throat got that slight closed-cave feeling? Lips a little chappy? Skin drying-up?
This period of 1-2 weeks around the equinox throws out junk at a cellular level so symptoms like these are not unusual. As we get rid of the stuff that isn't useful to us, we can make way for the goodness to move in. There's a deeper message there eh? More on that below.
SELF CARE TIPS FOR AUTUMN
Here are some self care tips to find balance in this potent time as we transition towards and through the equinox!
For me this means working on getting more rest, attempting to uphold a daily meditation practice to help out my energy and stress levels, and avoiding stimulants like coffee and sugar. It doesn't mean depriving myself of things I want, rather being extra mindful about how i treat myself during these changes.
Of course, my physical yoga practice also shifts to one that offers me more stability. I seek out more grounding postures such as the warrior bunch and some standing balances, as well as twists and core focussed work which is a nice way to warm up and rinse out when things get a bit nippy.
I also take the opportunity to look inside, building warmth slowly, giving myself longer periods of time to melt into position. Also worth noting here, the things that work for me, work for everyone else. My point: Amp up your version of rest, babes.
Winds of change
One of the most symbolic things for me at this time, is really being aware of cycles: that with endings come new opportunities. There are times in our lives to be more outward and conversely to retreat inward. We´re always in this transition of balance, because balance is never still or static. It's wobbling around and adjusting all the time (check me out in tree pose babes, serious! PS here´s a tutorial on that). And that´s ok.
We don't need to do it all. Cause we´re already full. Abundant.
We don't need to feel like we´re behind or missing something. Instead, as we approach this season, we could reflect on what we do have to be grateful for.
Appreciate our achievements.
Eat our pie/cake and be thankful for it.
Wrap up in some kind of cosy knit.
Take those country walks we never got round to in the summer.
Pause on our way somewhere in a rush and remember to slow it down a little.
Watch the squirrels.
Make eye contact with someone (non creepily) and realise we're floating on a ball of earth in the middle of space wearing meat suits, together!
Let it go
It's also nice to take off some of the layers that are weighing us down, simply because they are heavy. Perhaps there's something we might not be able to resolve IRL, therefore writing it out and releasing it another way might be useful. Or speaking to someone, sharing what's difficult. If that feels possible and safe for us to do so. And of course, worth it, energy wise. Reaching out for help when we need it. Changing a pattern that's not so helpful. Cutting out the stuff that isn't making us feel good. So we can enjoy more of the sweet stuff. Yes!
This is a time for rebalancing after more intense work, turning inwards and becoming more attuned to the changing season. We have a chance to release the past and look forward with more clarity and prepare for the coming winter. Let go and trust. It´s not always easy, but we can make it easier.
Releasing resistance around transitions
Through any transition in life - in this case, summer to autumn, the body can get depleted.
In the summer, our energy peaks and we tend to have more beans. Everything is ripe and in bloom. Then we start to move towards autumn and the weather changes. Wind increases, temperature gets cooler. We see leaves start to release from the trees, and there's a movement towards things dropping back towards the ground to repeat the cycle all over again. Even though things seem to be ending, really, it's simply a transition.
Our energy also shifts throughout the year (and the months, and the days of course), so its important to honour that and our own cycles.
Take care of you
Autumn is drying. Joints get poppy. In Ayurveda, it's the season of the Vata dosha which is comprised of the elements of wind and space (Ether). At best, Vata is a great creative energy, charged with sparks of expressive brilliance. But if imbalanced, it carries energy that's quite, well, all over the place. Unstable. Ungrounded. The physical side effects include insomnia, stiffness, aches, wind (!) and anxiety. Sound familiar?
We're all a mix of doshas but in this season, we might find our Vata increases or dominates. Our immunity can feel compromised as our energy is scattered- autumn tends to be the season where people get a little under the weather. So it can be great to restore the body at this time.
We can benefit from routine, repetition, a consistent rhythm, grounding, being warm and deeply nourishing ourselves. Self care 101.
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 focussed. For the Equinox, balance is a common theme, as is letting go.
My rituals change throughout the year but tend to always include oil pulling first thing in the morning then warm water and lemon to drink afterwards. I'll take a yoga and meditation practice before or after those things. If it's a good day, morning pages is also up there and the most important ritual of all: no email until i've made space for some/all of these rituals first!
Here are some other ideas for rituals with an autumn theme:
Getting outside + syncing with nature
Notice the changes and shifts around you. Subtle but a really nice way to stay present during the transition. Stimulate your senses with smells and colours. Take a pad and pen and sketch/write about/scrapbook old leaves. Get creative!
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.
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)
- 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.
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!
Adjusting to time:
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. an LED light that replicates sunlight.
Syncing 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!