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Tuning Into the Rhythms of Fall

From my window I have been watching the squirrels for the last few weeks fervently burying their nuts across my yard (and in my planter boxes and my potted plants…). Though the weather is still in the 90s and the sun is shining most days, the animals are going into preparation mode for the shorter days and longer nights to come. That is something we often miss as humans. We have our calendars and our clocks; we are slaves to manmade time and often forget to stay mindful of the natural rhythms occurring all around us, which we of course are also a part.

Tuning into the phases of the moon and the steady changing of the seasons is one of my favorite ways to stay connected to my inner wild woman who naturally knows when it is time to plant new projects or time to let others go. The natural world also provides a support system and consistent reminders to help us remember to keep tending to our projects and goals. For many of us, we spend the last two months of the year stressed out and overeating, only to make all these lofty New Years resolutions come January first. But has anyone ever kept a New Years resolution?? Usually come March it’s but a hazy memory.

Next week we are coming to the Autumnal Equinox here in the northern hemisphere. It is one of two points during our yearly cycle in which the day is exactly as long as the night. After the equinox the nights will grow increasingly longer as the days grow shorter until the winter solstice when it will be time to give birth to the sun once more.

There is a lot of interesting energy happening in autumn. On the one hand, it is the energy of the new. It’s back to school, summer is winding down and there is this feeling of wanting to get back to work. It’s like there is this innate desire to wrap things up and get them done before the holidays roll around, which makes sense. This is the time to harvest what has been planted and tended to in the spring and summer, and like the squirrels, we want to start preparing and storing that harvest for winter.

Simultaneously, there is also this desire to begin slowing down. Summer is full of all this extroverted, outward-focused energy and with the Fall Equinox we begin to feel that energy pull back inward. The weather cools off, we stay indoors more and the thought of spending the day reading a book in a cozy sweater with a big mug of steaming coffee sounds like a perfect Saturday.

Being mindful and aware of this change can help us to use the natural energy all around us to our benefit. Today I have a few things that you can do to help you get in tune with the sweet rhythm of fall.

  1. Reap the fruits of your labor. At the end of the growing season, we (hopefully) have all of this food to bring into the coming winter. Usually there is some type of feast in celebration. In the same way, look at everything that you have grown this year and allow yourself to celebrate how far you have come and all the work that you have put in. Even if your project isn’t finished yet, really take the time to celebrate and be grateful for exactly where you are right now.
  1. Don’t be afraid to cull plants that aren’t producing. In the same way that not every crop or plant produces, you may have resolutions and goals that fizzled on the vine. Of the things you started growing this year, which ones stopped in the winter or spring phase as merely ideas or half-formed projects that you didn’t see through to completion? Be super honest with yourself. Is this something you want to continue to pour your energy into or is it something that you can let go? Fall is an amazing time to let go of things that aren’t serving your highest good, to clear space mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually so that you can move into the next cycle with a cleaner slate and more energy for things you truly want to create.
  1. Prepare for winter. The days between Halloween and the Winter Solstice are the darkest and lowest energy days of the year. They are a time to retreat. To go within. To do the deep inner spiritual work that will allow you to blossom next year. It’s no wonder that we often end up sick and exhausted during this time, running around like crazy people braving crowded malls and attending parties all the time! To allow yourself some time to retreat in November and December, prepare now. Lay the groundwork. Do some of the heavy lifting and put systems into place that will support you in the coming months. What the heck does that mean? Start putting together your shopping lists and buy what you can now. If you are going to be entertaining over the holidays, find someone who can clean your house before and after. Taking care of these details now will make for a much less stressful and more enjoyable holiday season.
  1. Begin to slow down. Make time to nourish yourself. You don’t need to say “yes” to every offer that comes your way, whether it’s work, friends, family, etc. No one else is going to make your time a priority; that’s your responsibility. So be discriminating!! As a fellow coach Jesse Elder always says, time is your only non-renewable resource. Don’t waste it!!
  1. Savor the change that is in the air i.e. get your ass outside! The best way to get in tune with the natural rhythms is by immersing yourself in them. Take a walk. Open your ears and listen to the sound made by the burnt orange leaves as they dance down the sidewalk. Feel the changing temperature on your skin. Inhale the scent of dry grass in the autumn sunshine. Open your eyes and your heart to all the beautiful changes that are happening in nature all around you, providing you with a map to follow to embrace your own ever-changing cycles.

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