Turning Tides: The Wisdom of the Autumn Equinox

As most of you who read my blog know, a large part of my personal practices revolve around a sort of sacred timekeeping, which to equnioxme is simply a recognizing and honouring of the larger rhythms of nature that exert their pull on my life.  As summer wanes we are entering a time of year that has always been precious to me, the autumn season and the dark time of the year.  This is a time of turning tides as the fullness and celebration of summer transitions into the inner quiet of winter, and this golden season in between has always been a favourite of mine for pausing to take stock, listen deeply and plant seeds for the next season.  The word equinox comes from the Latin aequinoctium which essentially means equal night, referencing the fact that day and night are more equal in length at the times of autumn and vernal (spring) equinox, and that the days afterward take us deeper in the waxing (spring) or waning (autumn) season of the year. There are a number of practices I tend to favour at this time of year and you may choose to do all or some of them to help bring a reverence for sacred timekeeping into your own life.

Meditate: This is the ideal time of year to begin or re-commit to your meditation practice as the energy flow of fall takes you inward and can offer great subtlety and awareness to your meditative practices. If you are new to meditation but want to begin now is a great time to source a teacher or practice group. For those of you who already practice this is a good time to come back to your intentions for practice and see if they have changed or if you have greater clarity around them. If you have never asked yourself about your intentions for practice consider contemplating them in a journal session and coming up with a root intention that can guide you in this next phase of the year.  Particularly powerful times for daily meditation practices are at the times of transition, earlier in the morning before the day gets active and the world is quiet, or at dusk when there is another quieting of activity in nature and the subtle or suskshma energy is more palpable.

Simplify: For me, this seems to very naturally become a practice of cleansing that is done on multiple levels. I always find that my appetite wanes as seasons change and the foods of one season are no longer appropriate, but I haven’t yet developed the taste for the next season’s foods. When I notice this I simply allow myself to have a few days or a week of very simple eating. Steamed veggies, bone broth, fresh juices, herbal teas, one-pot meals etc. This will look different for each of us but if you notice the same pattern happening to you consider a short cleanse, which to me is just a chosen time of simplicity (not starvation!). This usually extends out into re-organizing and clarifying my living space in preparation for the season where I will be in the home more as well. You might consider a media fast for the days around the equinox if you can, or a few days of silent retreat. These are all lovely practices that help us tune into the sacred pause that occurs this time of year and deepen our ability to listen with our whole bodies.

Delight in Nature’s Beauty: Though autumn is a time where I feel most attuned to the wisdom current of Saraswati, goddess of inspiration and learning, I also appreciate it as a time of great beauty and an expression of goddess Lakshmi in her abundance. I love going to farmer’s markets at this time and savouring the visual images of plenty symbolized in the seasonal harvest of grapes, and apples, bright squashes of many types, and winter greens. Walking in the woods this time of year as nature puts on a show with the many coloured trees is also a favourite practice, as there is a hush in the forest at this time that draws me inward in appreciation. Wherever you live try to get out into nature in any way you can and witness the way in which the seasonal changes manifest in your environment. Get to a local farmer’s market and treat yourself to some of the bounties of this season. Honour nature and know that you are not separate from it.

Check In: I am a huge fan of journaling, and have kept a journal since I was nine. I do not write in it every day, but rather tend to check in at key moments of the year. I am often writing on new moons, and make a point of doing contemplations at the cross-quarter points of the year (equinoxes and solstices) at the very least. If you are new to journal writing this can be a great time to start. Simply get yourself a good journal, I like the sketchbook types you can get in art stores with black covers, and make a date to sit down with yourself. Think of it as a letter you write to yourself, or a conversation you have with a trusted friend, or write as if you are having a conversation with the divine, whatever format works for you. At this point, I tend to stick to broad strokes in my journal writing rather than minute details, and most of my entries tend to be a simple review of key moments that have passed, a re-clarifying or stating of my current intentions, an expression of gratitude for the season or time I am currently in, and so forth. For me, journal writing has become a form of prayer. This act of checking in is itself a wonderful practice of sacred timekeeping as you can look back on your year and see what has changed, what has been realized, and what has been resolved. I have learned so much from my journals, and yet it is simply the act of speaking from my heart onto paper that brings me back to the practice again and again as it never fails to offer me more clarity and peace.

Ground: When we look to nature at this time we can witness an energy flow that is going back to the earth, back to the roots. We see this in the leaves falling off the trees and the flowers and greenery that filled the gardens dying back. And so this primary energy current of rotting is one to honor as we enter the autumn season, and yet the dropping temperatures and drier air increases Vata Dosha (Air and Ether elements), which can make us feel unplugged and uplifted. For this reason, we must cultivate conscious grounding practices in order to support us in deepening that current of root nourishment within us. You may be drawn to doing more restorative type practices on the days around the equinox, as often fatigue is present, if you feel that call give in to it.  Or simply incorporate more yin-type practice that gets you deep into your hips and lower body. If you have been feeling spacey or restless try slow and strong standing pose sequences in your practice, or at the very least just lie down on the earth and take a nice long Savasana.

These are just some of the more simple practices I like to do at this time of the year, and if you are drawn to one or two of them give them a try. As well please feel free to share any of your favourite practices to do as we enter into the autumn season in the comments section below. If you are interested in learning more about sacred timekeeping, daily practices to nourish health and wellness, and simple ways to bring more awareness to your life rhythms check out my Living Yoga Online Immersion .

I wish you all the best through this time of transition, autumn blessings to you all.