“Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus
The changing of the seasons is considered a sacred time by many people of all cultures, and the coming fall equinox is the perfect time to re-center and nourish yourself for the months to come. As we approach the arrival of autumn, you may feel many things begin to shift in your body, mind, and spirit. Traditionally, fall is a time of shedding our leaves, and letting go of things that no longer serve us, and is a wonderful time of year to get a fresh perspective.
In the healing system of Ayurveda (native to India, and sharing the same roots as yoga), fall is known as a “vata season,” meaning that it is governed by the vata dosha. This dosha is airy, crisp, cleansing, dry, and rough, and brings the energies of movement, clarity, and release. You can think of this idea as you watch the golden leaves swirl in the fall breezes, and inhale the cool, invigorating air in the mornings.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), autumn is reigned by the element of metal, one of the five elements in this healing practice. Fall also focuses on the lungs and the large intestine, calling us to inhale what we wish to keep, and exhale that which we don’t want to carry any longer. Nourishing your digestive system is also important as we make this transition into cooler, darker, drier months.
To support your body’s natural detoxification process, a short period of cleansing is a great idea during this seasonal change. Keep reading- I’ll outline a 5-senses purification self-care ritual later on in this post. In the meantime, let’s explore some different ways to celebrate the coming autumnal equinox!
1. Decorate your hearth
Since fall is the season of the home and the harvest, what better way to honor the arrival of fall than by decorating your hearth. Traditionally, the hearth was the heart of the living area, where loved ones gathered around the fire, and where special mementos and items were displayed. Take the time to clean off your mantle and refresh the décor- experiment with warm colors, candles, incense, or inspirational pictures.
2. Make a feast
Gather your friends and family around your table for a shared meal, focusing on seasonal and local fare. Lay out a sumptuous feast, as lavish as you’d like it, and savor each bite with mindful presence. This is a great time to catch up with old friends, crack open some fresh apple cider, and have an excuse to tidy up. And speaking of tidying up…
3. Declutter a room
This time of year invites us to release the things that no longer serve us, it’s a great time to tackle a decluttering project. Often, over the busyness of summer, we accumulate lots of items that we don’t need or want, stuffing them in drawers and cabinets for another day. Honor the energy of the cleansing winds, and do a deep purge of the room of your choice.
4. Go earthing
One of the most powerful ways that we can connect with our environment and really get in tune with the natural world is by spending time outdoors, making contact with the earth. Before the frost arrives, take the opportunity to get outside, take off your shoes, and walk in reverence for the ground beneath you. Soak up the healing frequency of the planet, while enjoying fresh air and the beautiful leaves!
5. Start a gratitude practice
Autumn is the season of abundance, and tapping into the vibration of gratitude can help you get through the leaner season of winter. If you don’t already have a daily gratitude practice, now is the ideal time to start one. Each evening, try writing down three things that made you smile or that make you feel blessed. Write down a mantra of gratitude (e.g. “My life is overflowing with abundance, and I share this abundance freely!”) and tape it to your mirror or on your fridge. If you live with others, consider making a gratitude wreath: gather a circular piece of wood or cardboard, paper cutouts of leaves, berries, flowers, and writing implements. Everyone can take turns writing down things they’re grateful for on the paper cutouts, and attaching them to the circle, creating a wreath!
6. Do a cleanse
In many healing traditions across the world, each season is an invitation for cleansing. Many people choose to embark on a kitchari cleanse, a soup/bone broth cleanse, or a macrobiotic cleanse during fall. If this is something that resonates with you, go for it! If you’d like something a bit less intense, but something that makes you feel grounded and refreshed, this wonderful 5-senses purification ritual (original source here) is just the thing. It’s recommended to do in the mornings for the 4-5 days surrounding the equinox, but if you shower later in the day, do it then.
5 Senses Purification Ritual
Hear: When you wake, listen to the sounds of nature, kirtan, or other soothing music to fill your ears with positive sounds. Say loving words to your family. And avoid turning on the morning news.
See: Upon waking, splash eyes 3–6 times with cool, filtered water to refresh and awaken the eyes.
Taste: Use a tongue scraper to perform 3 to 6 firm scrapes from the back of the tongue forward to the tip, pulling off any white, yellow, or brown layers on the tongue, which are toxins. Rinse your mouth and tongue scraper with filtered water in between each scrape. Then, dissolve ½ tsp salt in a glass of warm, filtered water and gargle 3 to 6 times.
Smell: To rid your nose of germs and bacteria, in a clean, purified neti pot, dissolve 1/8 to ¼ tsp of neti-pot salt in filtered warm water. Over a sink, pour half of the solution through one nostril, letting it seep out the other nostril. Repeat on the other side. Blow your nose to clear out excess mucus. Then, apply 1–2 drops of nasya oil (a blend of herbs like eucalyptus, calamus, and skullcap in oil) in each nostril edge to lubricate the cave of the nose and protect mucous membranes.
Touch: On days 1 and 3, do an exfoliation massage (garshana) to prepare skin for absorbing oil used in the daily warm-oil massage (abhyanga/snehana). Using a dry loofah glove, make light, lengthy strokes over the long bones of your body and make circles at the joints, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Before you shower each day of the cleanse, do a warm-oil massage to increase circulation, stimulating detoxification of the lymphatic system. Lube up the skin with a couple tablespoons of warmed sesame oil. Move over the whole body, doing long strokes on long bones and circles at the joints. Get into the shower and continue your massage in the wet environment, so the oil penetrates your skin. Next, soap areas that need washing (armpits, genitals, hands, feet), leaving others with the protective oil in place.
These are just 6 ideas that you can explore, to welcome the energy of autumn. This can also be the season of heightened creativity, so feel free to make up your own fun rituals and get your family involved too!