At this time of year we can start to move inward, practice Svadhyaya (Self-reflection), let go of the outer sheath that holds us together and experience a deepening sense of vulnerability. In Autumn we can move past the external nature of our existence where we might have created habits or behaviours just to get through the day, to letting go of what we no longer need and search for the true value of our life. Autumn means making a change so as to further enrich our future, to clean house in order to keep a pure healthy vibrancy about ourselves.
In doing this we need to take a few vital steps to ensure we have the strength for a smooth transition. Here are some ideas on optimising this time of the year to deepen your practice of Svadhyaya, making the most of letting go of what no longer serves you well and looking after your physical health:
- Give yourself time for rest and avoid this time of year for commencing new projects that will leave you fatigued – listen to the needs of your body and take a leaf from nature. Nature slows down in Autumn readying itself for Winter and to come back more valuable in Spring. Very few plants start sprouting new growth unless it is conditioned to do so.
- Wear a scarf – our neck is considered the most vulnerable part of our body. Protect it from wind and chill by wearing something that covers it adequately. The wind in Oriental Therapies invades the neck first and it is wind that is said to induce many symptoms and diseases that affect our constitution. Wearing a scarf adds a layer of protection.
- Eat healthy whole foods indicative for the Autumn season – heartier flavours, smell stimulating and warming foods. Autumn is a contracting season however mental awareness and internalising our focus mean balancing all the flavours is indicated. Sour foods such as sauerkraut, olives and pickles can help digestion but tend to be cooling and should be eaten in small amounts. Bitter and Salty foods descend the Ki and draws energy inwards so tend to be more warming. These are often recommended in Winter so introducing these types of foods in Autumn can promote an inner meditative state. Bitter type foods include quinoa, celery, oats, some herbs like dandelion tea or chicory are a great alternative to coffee. Salty foods include miso, soy sauce, some seaweeds. Sweet foods often belong to the realm of the Earth element however with the winds comes a condition of dryness. Foods which can counteract and treat dryness are sweet foods such as dairy products, eggs, some seafood and almonds. The use of pungent or spicy foods seems to be a natural warming choice for the cooler months. While considered a Metal Element flavour, pungent foods can be over drying and should not be used in excess. Including spicy additives to dishes can be done in small amounts and should be added particularly if you are suffering from a phlegm or dampness condition. Cooking your food and moving away from a Raw diet is highly recommended in Autumn.
- Practice Yin Yoga - Poses that are deep and require you to sit in stillness for a period of time will allow for a more meditative practice. In particular practice poses that work on the Lung and Large Intestine Meridians. Arm poses, chest and torso opening and contracting would be highly beneficial.
- Meditate longer and start a journal – Autumn prepares us for the Winter months. As the days grow shorter take the time to meditate for longer periods of time. Reflect and allow your thoughts to pour out onto paper. Write down any random thoughts, dreams and reflections. Meditation is calming and slowing while journaling allows you the opportunity to release those thoughts that are continually cycling through your mind.
- Practice Pranayama (breathing) techniques – the Metal Element relates to the Lung Meridian and organ. Practicing breathing will enhance the flow of Ki from the Lungs, and provides you with oxygen to keep your body healthy. Breathing is the practice of exchange. As you inhale you breathe in the purest form of energy and as you exhale you let go of what doesn’t serve you – carbon dioxide.
- Most of all in Autumn as with every other time of the year – honour yourself. At first this might seem foreign and be difficult to do. The more you practice conscious awareness of yourself the easier it will get. You will soon be flowing with nature and using the seasons to live your healthiest life yet.
I look forward to seeing you in practice soon.