As autumn begins, we find ourselves in transition again. We are being reminded, that life is a continuous cycle and that change is the only constant. This year the autumn equinox, the first official day of the new season, took place on September 23rd. The equinox occurs because of a tilt of the Earth in relation to the Sun and from this day onward, up until the winter solstice on December 22nd 2019, we will be experiencing shorter days and longer nights.
As the warm Sun tilts away from the Northern Hemisphere towards the Southern one, we can feel the autumn all around us, as well as within. Even if the temperatures have not dropped down excessively yet, there is a certain atmosphere and rawness in the air, indicating that change is indeed upon us. Due to our powerful and intuitive connection to nature, we are encouraged to follow suit. Just as nature establishes equilibrium between the seasons, between day and night, the soil slowly dies to be reborn again next Spring, and the Earth draws within herself; we ourselves are given the opportunity for introspection and to view life from a broader perspective.
As we transition from warm, light, vibrant and carefree summer days into colder, slower and darker months one in three people will experience a mild depression, dubbed ´SAD´.
The Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects women much more than men, as representatives of this sex are 50% more likely to report suffering from the disorder, according to research conducted in 2014. Symptoms of SAD can include: a decline in mood, irritability, a sense of worthlessness, continual fatigue, low enthusiasm, little optimism and… craving for comfort, carb-rich food.
As these ´darker´ times are upon us, we might feel unmotivated, lost, hopeless and sad. All changes are challenging and the autumn equinox reminds us again that change is the only constant. As the wheel of life spins round and round, it is at the center of the typhoon where stillness and clarity reside. By connecting and grounding ourselves in this serenity, we become more at ease, as within this stillness we can recognize that whatever our circumstance may be, good or bad, this shall pass – sooner or later. With patience, persistence, practice and experience it becomes possible to understand that duality is the nature of things, that both dark and light coexist together and that the difficult, darker times are as much needed as the light and easier ones. Once we accept our circumstances and ourselves, once we recognize we are not separate entities but a part of the unlimited Universe – we can navigate our worlds from a place of steadiness, tranquility and stability.
During the transition from summer to autumn we are invited to seek body-mind-soul balance, to celebrate the abundance and gratitude befallen us, to slow down, to ground ourselves and recognize our wholeness. To make this passage easier, we can turn towards the practice of yoga and meditation, choosing introvert, yin poses that correspond with the seasonal changes and help us to keep balanced and centered. Incorporating postures that build up bodily heat and adding kapalabhati (the breath of fire) to one´s practice will help to keep the body active, the heart healthy and the blood flowing freely.
If you´re not a fan of yoga, try exercising or dancing. Both improve the mood and release ´happy hormones´ to help us make it through the rainy days. Going out and getting as much natural light as possible, as well as opening the curtains and blinds at home will help. Taking a look at our dietary habits can also proove beneficial.
According to Ayurveda, starting your day with a warm glass of water with squeezed lemon juice will help one stay hydrated and warm from the inside as well as stimulating the digestive system positively first thing in the morning. Seasonal root vegetables will help balance the airiness and roughness of the season and their inherent earthiness will prove very grounding. Using warm spices such as cumin, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic and pepper will not only make your food taste and smell delicious, but improve the digestion and keep the immune system healthy.
To aid us through the darkness of the upcoming month, to transition through it gracefully, we can try moving forward with intention, attention and awareness. Ask yourself what you would like to see as a result of this change. This can help us to maintain focus as well as sustain a connection to the present and allows us to move through our days mindfully, as these ultimately serve our intention.
As all changes are challenging, let´s be easy on ourselves during this period of time.