Do you feel it? There’s just something about September that signals the start of something new for me. Maybe it’s because the majority of my life has been spent on a school calendar — first as a student and now being married to an educator. Or maybe it’s the fond memories of growing up in the Midwest where the weather creates a tangible shift you can really sense during this time of year.
I’ve mentioned before my aversion to change. I love rhythm, ritual and routine. I like predictability, constancy and consistency. Life has shown me things are always changing and though I have very little (if any) control over many changes, I do have the power to choose how I will react to the changes life presents. And I desire more and more to approach such transitions with grace, patience and hope.
Creation is an excellent source of wisdom and a wonderful model of how to orient our lives and cope with change. This week marks a big seasonal shift, the Autumn Equinox. Equinox comes from Latin and means “equal night,” which is what happens twice a year. On an equinox, the sun is visible right above the planet’s equator, splitting it down the middle in a precise astronomical alignment. This leads to perfectly divided amounts of sunshine.
The equinoxes are the points of balance between the two solstices: the Summer Solstice, when the days are longest, and the Winter Solstice, when the nights are longest. At the Spring and Autumn Equinox, day and night are equal lengths: 12 hours each. The Autumn Equinox is the point at which we are about to turn toward the darkest time of the year, as nighttime gradually starts to outlast the day. This is often not a welcome change. There have already been grumblings in my house about the shorter daylight. However, instead of seeing this gradual shift as a miserable plunge into cold darkness, maybe nature is reminding us to slow down.
Shorter days have historically meant less time for doing. More time for being still; being quiet. The increased darkness is our invitation to turn toward the light within.
Seasonal changes also remind us that the only constant in life is change. As such, we must learn to let go of anything we no longer need and embrace that change.
And just as the equinox is the planet’s point of balance between light and dark, hot and cold, we are invited to find balance in ourselves and our lives.
The Autumnal Equinox is the perfect time to reflect on what hasn’t served us and to practice letting go. Consider setting new intentions for the season ahead, and to spend some time grounding and finding balance – balance between movement and stillness, between strength and surrender.
Personally, I will be welcoming this season of change by fulfilling a life-long dream of visiting New England and assuming the role of “leaf peeper” for 2 full weeks. My heart is bursting just thinking about it: breathing in fresh forest air, basking in the cool breezes (fingers crossed it will be cool), fixing my eyes on those glorious leaves and being still to hear all the woodland critters. Making the time and space for such an adventure means simplifying my teaching schedule. I recognize my choices impact you as well. I encourage you to continue using that time for your personal practice (trust your body) or maybe meditate or journal on one of the prompts here.
Let me know how you feel about seasonal changes and any practices that help you transition with grace, patience and hope in the comments below.