Autumn is quite a dramatic time of year for nature. As the sun moves further away from the earth, we head for cooler months and see a shift in the energy all around us.
For plants and animals, this is a time to conserve energy, to go inwards, and to trust mother earth to support them through the harsh months to come. Our deciduous trees are vibrant at this time, as they turn to shades of red, gold and orange and lose their foliage. Their sap drops deep into their core and their energy returns to the roots through the decaying leaves all around them. Many other animals start to slow down or hibernate during this time, finding warm and safe spots deep within the earth.
In our modern times, when we seem to have conquered so much of nature and feel protected from the worst extremes of its seasons, you might ask; what has any of this got to do with us?
The illusion of our separation from nature is only that; an illusion. Our bodies and to a certain extent our minds go through the same changes that many creatures and plants go through during this time. Our energy seeks to go inward. Our circadian rhythm starts to change in response to the shorter days, the colder climates and the differing moon cycles. That might seem hard to believe, but when we remember that we are mammals supported on a planet that is orbited by a moon and circles a sun in a vast universe, we start to realise that we have very little control over anything, least of all our bodies deeply instinctive responses to the changes ahead. We can however start to think about habits and routines that will help us to be more in sync with the changes around and within us.
We don’t have the luxury of being able to hibernate or reduce our working hours, just because Autumn has arrived, but we can find other ways to honour the inner changes that are happening.
- Our diet is important. It is no surprise that the root vegetables harvest at this time of year, given that they bring rich nutrients from the soil, as well as important vitamins and trace minerals. Think about having root vegetables roasted, in stews or in hearty soups once or twice a week.
- Morning routines can be difficult to maintain when we wake up to darkness. We can feel slower and stiffer, as the fluid in our joints thicken, and we need to be more aware of warming up thoroughly ahead of any sporting activities. Consider starting some morning stretching exercises to help you to awaken your body slowly and gently. The five Tibetan rituals is a routine I find useful, but there are many others.
- During the summer months we are used to drinking cold water regularly, but as we move towards winter, think about switching your water bottle for a thermal mug and having more regular warm drinks. Non caffeinated drinks such as herbal teas have a great nourishing and balancing effect on the body and will help to maintain good energy levels.
- Lastly, think about going to bed an hour or so earlier. We tend to need more sleep in the winter, as our body struggles both with the light deprivation and the increased energy we are using to keep warm. The best way to replenish this is to get a good night’s sleep. It also makes it much easier to face a dark morning when we feel well rested.