We’ve enjoyed a long, extended summer in Northern Colorado this year, but the time has finally come for the cool breezes of autumn to arrive. Most of the trees have let go of their leaves, the plants have gone dormant, and the snow has already begun to fall. This time of year can be beautiful and transformative, when you look around at all the changes that are happening, perfectly in tune with nature’s wisdom. Many people are sad to see the summer go, and dislike bundling up against the autumn cold, but when we step back and look at the seasons with curiosity and an open heart, we can find the messages they contain for us. Autumn has long been the season associated with the harvest- the reap after the sow, and a time for gathering with loved ones over the bounty. It is a time to reign in the exuberance of summer, and settle in to a more quiet, nurturing place. As the daylight hours get shorter, and the nights get cooler, our bodies naturally begin to shift in rhythm with the natural world. Our appetites inherently increase this time of year, as we prepare for the long winter ahead, reaching for warm, filling foods like stew, casserole, and pie. Our sleep becomes longer and deeper, encouraged by the early darkness and cold temperatures. Our overall energy seems to both calm down and get clear- inviting us to prioritize the projects and people that matter the most.
Every season holds its own wisdom and invitation for us to make changes that improve our vitality, both on the outside and in our inner worlds as well. Since the dawn of time, humans have navigated their lives in time with the cycles of nature, honoring the arrival of each new season with gratitude. Depending on the area of the world and the healing tradition of that culture, autumn is viewed in different ways:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), autumn is thought to bring the energies of seriousness and introspection, and governs the areas of organization and setting healthy boundaries. Autumn is associated with the element of metal, and in the physical body, the lungs, which encourage us to “inhale the new and exhale the old.” According to TCM, the lungs are linked with the feeling of grief, which is a normal part of the life cycle, as we learn to release our grip on things that no longer serve us. The energy of autumn is considered “contracting” and dry, reigned by the winds, which invited us all to eat more warm, expansive foods and sip on more water or tea.
In Ayurveda, the healing tradition of India, autumn is a time of transition into a more raw, minimalist state. As the trees are stripped of their leaves, we too can be left feeling exposed and cold during this time of year. We are invited to flow with this natural energy, and let go of things that are weighing us down- the perfect time to do some decluttering! Autumn is governed by the vata dosha, the energy of drought and wind, and is thought to be rough, erratic, windy, cool, and clear. This time of year offers us incredible clarity, to see what is working in our lives, and what is not. It’s recommended to increase your intake of warm, moist, substantial foods, as well as nourishing the skin with warm oil massage.
When you are in tune with your body’s energy, you naturally feel a draw towards these kinds of things. Our bodies are wired to seek balance in every aspect (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual), and we naturally respond to the changes in our environments. Perhaps you have noticed that you are experiencing cravings for a certain food or drink, you’re sleeping longer, or perhaps you don’t have as much energy as you did a couple of months ago. All of these things are normal! Now is your invitation to step into the natural flow of autumn’s energy, and listen to your body’s needs.
Here are a few ideas to help you get in tune with the wisdom of autumn!
As we spend more hours indoors this time of year, it’s the perfect opportunity to do a little “cleaning house.” Take your time and go through your closets, drawers, and cabinets, and eliminate the things that you no longer want or use. Be honest with yourself here. It’s okay to let go of things. Then sit back and enjoy the spaciousness of a clean, organized space.
- Do more cooking
It’s natural to desire more warm, homemade foods this time of year, so if you have the time and desire, go ahead and do more cooking. Try out some new autumn recipes. Light some candles, turn on some fun music, or recruit a helper to make your cooking even more fun.
- Bundle up
In the season of “wind energy,” it’s important to protect yourself from the elements. Wear a warm coat when going outside, and don’t let yourself get chilled. Thick, soft scarves are a great idea to insulate the neck and mouth, which are common places where illness enters the body, and are considered vulnerable this time of year.
- Bump up your bedtime
As the sun sets earlier these days, it’s natural to feel more tired in the evenings, and be ready to sleep at an earlier hour than you may be accustomed to. Don’t force yourself to stay up to your “normal” bedtime, but allow yourself to catch an extra hour or two of sleep whenever your body calls for it.
- Gather with loved ones
Autumn can be a busy time of year for a lot of people, with school back in session, but it’s important to set aside time for socializing with people you care about. The cool weather makes gatherings even more cozy, sitting around the fire sipping wine, going for a brisk walk, or hosting a dinner party. Surround yourself with friends and family, to counteract the loneliness that sometimes creeps in around autumn time.
This season can be such a tremendous opportunity for personal growth, introspection, and redefining our priorities, and I hope we all take advantage of the invitation in front of us. So, I urge you to ask yourself what personal wisdom autumn is bringing to you this year, and how you can envelop it into your everyday life?