The word ‘equinox’ is derived from the Latin, meaning ‘equal night’.
At the Autumn Equinox night and day are equally balanced before we tip in to the darkest phase of the year.
There is a shift of emphasis from
- sun to moon
- light to dark
- action to contemplation
- growth to dormancy
- fruitfulness to compositing
- building up to letting go
- movement to stillness.
Now is a good time to pause after the frenetic activity of the growing season and consider how best to recuperate, regenerate and replenish your energy this autumn.
There is a poignancy in the misty, mellow fruitfulness of the season accompanied as it is by a wistful longing that summer might never end. We let go of summer and accept the arrival of autumn: a time rich with possibilities.
Nature responds to diminishing hours of daylight by gradually withdrawing into the dormancy
- leaves fall from the trees,
- vegetation dies back
- some animals prepare to hibernate.
We can honour our connection to nature and respond with wisdom to the changing seasons by changing our focus from activity and forward action to contemplation and inner reflection. This process of drawing inward is a continuation of the work begun at the Summer Solstice, when the sun’s powers were beginning to wane and we entered the darker half of the year. In yoga we have the concept of pratyahara, which is the withdrawal of the senses from external stimuli. It’s a time for simply being.
Twice a year at the equinox the earth returns to neutral. In yoga we observe the earth’s graceful seasonal cycle of balance, activity, balance, rest. We create a healing space by learning to recognize and return to this neutral, balanced state. Equanimity and equilibrium is our base, giving our body, mind and emotions the space to realign and heal.
In our yoga practice we move in and out of this neutral, balanced state. We pause to find neutral; we come home to ourselves. We recognize tension in our body, making subtle adjustments to our postures, observe the torrent of thoughts passing through the mind, tune in to our natural breath and let things settle. The pause provides a transition from our everyday life and activities into the sacred space of yoga. Then at the end of the practice we come back to neutral and this makes for a smooth transition between our yoga practice and the return to everyday life.
In neutral our body’s inherent wisdom is revealed, instinctively it knows how to readjust and correct itself. Yoga teaches us to recognize neutral. In the stillness of this neutral state, we can hear and respond to the still, small voice of calm within.
The skills that we lean on the yoga mat of returning to this neutral, balanced state can also be applied to everyday life. Being clear about what and who are important to us creates balance. This clarity gives us the confidence to say “yes” to the things that we value and to be comfortable saying “no” to that which is depleting and takes us away from the life we want to live.
When our life is out of balance we feel cut off from the flow of life. We don’t feel at home in our own skin. We are somewhere else, not in the present. We feel time pressured, unable to find time for doing the things that we love, the things that nourish us and bring us back to a balanced state.
When our life is in balance, we feel connected, carried by the flow of life, on the right track, happy, optimistic, generous and tolerant of others. When balance is present in our life there is enough time, things get done with ease, there is enough love and we feel held by the web of life.
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