How do you feel when the clocks go back? Do you yearn for the long, warm days – not quite ready to let go of summer, or can you learn to embrace the darker days ahead?
As we reach this point in the calendar, we’re at the midpoint between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice and we head into the darkest phase of the year. Our ancient ancestors learnt that this was a time to tap into the rhythms of nature and begin to slow the pace, draw inwards and rest after the intense activities of the summer months. With our 24-hour lifestyle and a culture that speeds through life without taking time to pause, this can feel like a difficult balance to achieve in our modern world. But with practice we can also learn to embrace the shorter, darker days while at the same time keeping our inner light shining throughout the season.
Here’s some ideas that can help you learn to love the darker days and longer evenings...
I used to dread this time of year, but introducing these simple strategies have really helped me to embrace the season...
Get cosy! Pop your PJs on, grab a blanket and a hot water bottle and snuggle into your cosy cocoon. Take time to simply be. Perfect with a cup of hot chocolate or warm hazelnut milk – yum!
Diffuse essential oils to soothe and calm. My favourite blend right now is orange, cinnamon and petitgrain – a perfect mix of scents that's uplifting, warming and balancing.
In the evening turn out the harsh lights in your living space, and light a candle or two.
During the longer evenings avoid the lure of the TV and create space to do something you love that you can become fully absorbed in; writing, crafting, baking, crochet, journaling, drawing or a jigsaw - whatever it is that brings you joy
Look at stars! On a crisp Autumn evening when the sky is clear the stars seem to shine even brighter than ever (and if the sky is cloudy then you can do the Starlight Meditation on the Meditation Portal).
Curl up and lose yourself in the pages of a good book or the words of an audio book – bliss!
Soak in a wonderfully warm bath, taking time afterwards to massage a luxurious scented oil or body butter into the skin. A warm bath a couple of hours before bed is said to help us sleep better too!
Light a fire – watching the flickering flames of a fire is so soothing and better than watching TV or scrolling through your phone.
Observe nature and fall in line with the natural rhythms – notice the ways in which animals, bird and plants change their activity at this time of year. I’ve learnt to love the feeling of ‘putting the garden to bed’ for winter – cutting back and clearing plants that are dying back (but leaving those where I’ve spotted ladybirds already settling to hibernate!), creating log piles for insects to shelter, cleaning greenhouse windows to allow more light in over winter months, and planting bulbs. Helping to complete the cycle of nature in the garden and feeling hopeful for the year of new growth that awaits us.
If you have to get up early before it’s light, notice how wonderfully quiet and peaceful it is before the rest of the world gets busy and active. It’s easier to catch the sunrise at this time of year too, as we don’t have to get up so early to see it.
Do some yoga. The ‘Autumn Glow’ class in the Online Studio is the perfect pace for this time of year; a balance of gentle movement to warm the body, and nurturing postures that draw your attention inwards leaving you feeling refreshed yet settled and soothed.
Restorative yoga is also a favourite – a passive practice that signals to the nervous system that it’s time to take a break, triggering the body’s natural relaxation response. You don’t need lots of fancy props, instead using pillows and cushions to support you in the postures.
Be Present: one of the ancient teachings of the Yoga Sutras, aparagraha is the principle associated with non-attachment/letting go. Notice if you are gripping on to the summer and wishing it was still here - instead practice being in the present moment, embracing it for exactly what it is. The more we learn to let go and reside fully in the Now, the more we can experience the moments of magic in our life. At the start of our classes we always connect to the breath and take time to release what’s been, let go of what’s to come and arrive fully in the present moment. Can you bring this mini practice into each day?
Switching how we view this time of year, slowing the pace and finding joy in the simple pleasures of life can help us transition smoothly through the long, dark evenings. Create your cosy cocoon, pick an activity that nurtures you and allow your inner light to shine brightly and guide you through the darker days ahead.
Images from Pixabay and Canva.