Summer is over, with the exception of a joyful Indian summer day like I had today in Southeastern Wisconsin. The temperature topped 75 degrees with the allure of the myriad of fall colors. But my mind and soul are preparing for fall and what that means symbolically.
The fall is when the world begins its descent into slumber for the upcoming winter, a time that we all know as a time for harvesting our crops…but more importantly a time when we quiet our spirits; ushering a time of stillness, much like the earth as it goes into hibernation.
Focus on the Mind
What should we be contemplating during this time? A great start would be to cleanse yourself and your surroundings. I am not a big fan of sage burning, I would replace it with cedar; but I prefer to burn the resin of frankincense and myrrh.
Celebrating with friends around a bonfire is a great way to welcome the changing of seasons. If you so desire, this would be a great time for intention setting, or a ceremonial spell.
If you have an alter in your home, add things to it during this time to set intentions for the slumber. What do you need to look at internally in yourself? Where have you lost focus? The western world is inherently trained for doing, acquiring, and a frenzy of hard work with no rest, always focusing outward. Downtime is crucial for our wellness and going inward. When I say downtime I do not mean watching television or scrolling through Facebook. We must find that crucial balance for wellness.
This is my alter
Make Your Lists
One of my first mentor’s Dr. Deb Kern taught me to do things that make me happy. Sounds simple right? For many people it isn’t. Many of us are martyr’s and the first thing that may come to mind are things like spending more time with your kids or your friends/family, or doing things for them, seeing them smile, etc. These are NOT the kind of things I am talking about. The things that make you happy have to have NOTHING to do with another person. This is ALL ABOUT YOU.
Grab a piece of paper and a pencil. Make sure you are alone so you can have some real time to think. I want you to write a list of pleasures. Don’t leave anything out. What do you like to do? What makes you happy? What are your talents? What is something that you used to love to do only you feel you have no time for it anymore…write that down! Pleasures should include your deepest desires. Ones that may make you blush if someone else read your list. Do not leave anything out. The list may be hard to write at first, but don’t give up! Revisit it over a period of a few days. You might surprise yourself with how long your list becomes.
Now sit back and read what you wrote. How many things on your pleasures list do you do everyday? None? One? Many?
This season is the PERFECT time to indulge in your pleasures. You may be thinking you are too busy, how am I going to have time to do these things. TRUST ME, if you are dedicated to a pleasure or a friend or loved one, you make the time. I like to aim for one thing a day, but if you can do three things…you are way ahead of the game.
I found when I first made my lists that I barely touched any of those things in a weeks time, or even a month! It was truly a shocking realization for me. I stared at my list and thought, where did I go wrong, what do I do that keeps me nourished? When did I stop doing these things? I make sure to revisit the list often to check in with myself and make sure that I am staying on track. I know exactly where my lists are at all times, because the more I do these things the more I find that I love and have to add to my list!
This is a great start to moving toward the slumber that is the winter. The more you practice these things, I guarantee the more you will learn about yourself in the process.
Resolutions and Intentions
I am not a fan of new years resolutions set one time of year. I make them all year long. Positive affirmations or mantras are a great way to follow through with any particular resolutions or intentions you may have.
A great tip is to make sure your resolutions or intentions stay on the positive. Never start them with “I will stop”, “I will quit” or anything that says you want to refrain from doing something. Here are a few great questions to ask yourself to frame your affirmations:
1. What can I do this season to bring more pleasure into my life?
2. How can I best focus on what I am grateful for?
3. What can I awaken inside of me to make life the best it can be?
Once you can sit with these questions and formulate some wants and needs, you can begin to create affirmation or mantra. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. I feel safe in the flow of my ever-changing life.
2. I deserve the best, and I accept it now.
3. I am open to new and powerful changes.
The possibilities of affirmations are endless; just remember to keep them positive. I have post-it notes around my home and in my car reminding me of some of my favorites, and I say them often.
Bringing the Body Into Balance-Balancing Darkness with the Light
Nourishing your Body
Do you eat for the seasons? What I mean by this is do you eat food that is in season in your local area? There is much reasoning behind this practice. Have you ever noticed that during the winter when you eat a salad or have a fresh squeezed vegetable juice that you are left feeling cold all day? Reason being, you are meant to eat those things in the heat of the summer to cool you.
Another mentor Andrea Beaman states, “Seasons change and so should we”. Eating for the seasons is by for one of THE best ways for keeping the body in balance.
“As we move from summer to fall the air grows cooler and the body begins to slightly contract. This naturally starts the process of “release.”
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs and large intestine do their job by pushing excess sugars and sweets (fruits) that were abundantly available during the summer season out of the body. This helps prepare the body for winter.
Most people recognize this “squeeze” as a cold, runny nose, or congestion at this time of year. It’s perfectly normal. There’s no need to run to the pharmacy for cold medicine to stop this discharge process – just let your body do what it is designed to do… release and clear out some excess stuff”.
So what should you be eating this time of year? Warming pungent soups is a great place to start. Pull out that crock pot and fill your home with the wonderful aromas that soup can bring. Bone broth, ghee, and herbs such as parsley and garlic are also great choices.
Not a yogi? You don’t have to be. Cultivating a yin yoga practice is ideal for fall and healing and does not take years of practice to do. Yin poses are passive poses those that are held for 3-5 minutes. Think sweet surrender. These poses help you to gain insight and clarity as you move into the dormant period of winter.
Pranayama (breathing) practice is also beneficial during this time to open the lungs and clear out stagnant energy.
Here is a great link to help you on your way to some basic yin yoga poses for this quiet and introspective time of year.
Do not let the practice of meditation intimidate you. There is no right or wrong way to do it, and your mind will never stay “silent”, so if that is your fear or reason you have been discouraged in the past….wipe that slate clean. Meditation helps the body and mind, so it could fall into both categories,. I have been practicing meditation for more than a decade. The ability to do so has waxed and waned over the years, but at the height of my yoga practice, I was sitting for 30-45 minutes performing meditation. During this time I was very mentally fit, and it took quite a bit of external stimuli to shake me. Today, the amount of time that I meditate is directly reflected on the state of my inner dialogue throughout the day (it needs improvement). In other words, the more time you take to quiet the mind, the stronger and more at peace you will feel throughout the day.
What are some of the benefits of meditation?
Here is a great link to help get you started.
I do not like to place a large emphasis on vigorous exercise during this time. Yoga will go a long way to keep your body, joints, and muscles supple, but do not hesitate to get outside and feel the crunch of leaves or even snow under your feet with a nice nature walk, everyday if it suits you.
I still practice earthing during this time of year. The cool grass between my toes is a welcome pleasure. When I am feeling out of sorts and need to feel more grounded, I take my bare feet to the earth.
Another way I get in a little bit of exercise and movement AND check off one of my pleasures is to dance. I have been known to dance alone (often), and my kids are very versed on random dance parties in the kitchen. Expressing myself through dance and feeling the music is very healing for me, and really gets the stagnant negative energy on it’s way out!
Fall reminds of of the impermanence of everything. The more we contemplate these changes in nature, the more we can appreciate life and it’s continual change. In order for there to be light, there needs to be dark. Embrace it.