Sunday, September 30, 2012

Autumn Reflection

Autumn Canopy by -Liyen- 2009



Autumn is here! 

We see tree leaves change colors, we feel the air become cooler, and experience shorter sun-shiny days.   We adjust the clocks, dress warmer, and perhaps we indulge in the local fruits and vegetables that are harvested at this time.  But how do you adjust to Autumn internally?

In Toaism, the philosophy that Chinese Medicine is based on, we humans are considered microcosms of nature.  And if we are unable or unwilling to adjust our activity level and diet to that of the season, we may fall ill. Much is written about this subject and I won't add more repetition.  If you'd like to learn more, this article offers fantastic tips on how we can align with the energy of Autumn:
http://acutakehealth.com/7-acupuncture-tips-for-a-healthy-fall

But what IS the energy of Autumn?  We look at the yin/yang energy in nature (particularly the yang energy of the sun) to guide us.  Yang energy is considered bright, vibrant, light, hot, masculine, motivating, expanding and invigorating in contrast to Yin energy which is darker, duller, cooler, feminine, relaxing, introspective, and introverted.  The energy of the sun is at it's most yang at the summer solstice, often the hottest period of the year.  From there, it decreases until yang & yin are equal at the Autumn equinox.  The energy decreases further until it's most yin at the Winter solstice where it then rises again to find yin/yang balance at the Spring equinox.  It rises again to it's most yang height at summer again.

The energy of Autumn is decreasing, becoming more yin.  Can you feel it?  We naturally want to slow down, turn inward, reflect on what is important in our lives, purge what is unnecessary, gather what we truly need, and store up for the yin of winter where we rest & rejuvenate.  This seasonal transition is the most difficult for our culture because many value productivity & celebration, and assume that energy comes from MORE energy/activity.  Not so, according to nature.  Rest is absolutely necessary.  And yin is just as important as yang because they are dependent on and transform into each other continuously.

Another reason this transition is difficult is that the shift in seasons may not be so noticeable (like in our lovely California). That is my excuse, as our family has had a hard time adjusting too.  My son started his 2nd year of nursery school (just 2 days for 2.5 hrs each, with my participation - not a big deal.)  After the first week, he and I were both down with a yucky head cold.  Thank you Universe!  I hear you loud and clear, and we are now making changes in our household.

We're slowing down.  This is hard to do with a toddler who is letting go of his naps.  When overtired, he spirals up for the rest of the afternoon (as I become more irritable) until he crashes at 7:30pm.  Though we love the early bedtime, the increased activity in the evening can't be that great for my son's immune system without his afternoon rest.  I've been trying to introduce a quiet time instead.  Audio books from the library are my quiet time secret weapon, though it will take awhile for it to become a daily ritual.  At least we're trying...

I'm turning inward.  I've been dealing with my own physical imbalances throughout summer.  My mental chatter and emotional reactivity is creating stagnation in my body and leaving me feeling very uptight.  The loss of my toddler's nap is definitely not helping.  The best medicine for me is yoga, acupuncture, & meditation.  Of course!  I've written about how my practice has changed since having my dear son, but it's time that I make my health a greater priority.  After it is done each evening, then perhaps I can work on my sewing, read the news, or write in this blog.  But connecting to myself through yoga absolutely has to happen each night for the benefit of the WHOLE FAMILY!  I believe healing starts on the inside and this is the perfect season to explore that.

I'm expressing gratitude and asking for forgiveness.  My dear, wise teacher Sarah Powers would often suggest that we start the morning with expressing gratitude for the new day.  Realizing that we may not have another, that life can end at any time, brings poignancy to our lives.  This is important every day, but especially during Autumn where the end of the year can feel bittersweet.  In TCM, Autumn is related to feelings of grief and sorrow.  At this time we may hold on to past feelings and memories.  Sarah also recommends that we end each evening with forgiveness.  We mentally apologize to anyone we may have offended during the day and forgive those who have offended us.  This is a great way of allowing and letting go, then sleep becomes a time where we can become whole again and start the next day with a clean slate.

We're prioritizing and paring down.  This need feels very strong for us right now.  Looking at our finances, our time, & energy level (again, trying to keep it mellow!), something has to give.  (A) I've cancelled my gym membership since I wasn't getting there often enough, and realized that I prefer my personal yoga practice and jumping rope to anything at the gym.  (B) We re-evaluated preschool after some issues arose last week, but we decided to try to make it work since our son loves it so much.  Still, we're prepared to pull him out if he's not enjoying it.  (C) We're donating many of our old appliances, old furniture, and sporting equipment to a charity rummage sale next week.  (D) Also, we may skip some of the indulgent holiday parties coming up and instead spend extra time at our cabin in the mountains.  The tree canopy colors are quite beautiful there this time of year!



Autumn is actually my favorite season on this glorious planet.  It's energy invites  us to create space in our lives for self reflection, family connection, & meaningful friendships.

I would love to hear how you are adjusting to Autumn and what you love about the season!