My intention is to blog once a season about Life Practices in order to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.

Autumn Equinox, or Mabon, occurs midway between the longest day of the year, at Summer Solstice, and the longest night of the year, at Winter Solstice. It is called an Equinox from the Latin “equal” and “night” because (as on the Spring Equinox) the night and day are the same length. In 2012, the Autumn Equinox occurs at 9:49 am on September 22nd.

Autumn Equinox reminds us not only to be grateful for the fruits of the long Summer—from actual garden harvest to the completion of projects, wishes, and dreams—but also to prepare for the growing darkness. Just as in our daily life, the daytime of work and play is followed by a slowing down in the evening and then restorative sleep, Autumn is a part of the natural seasonal cycle. After a time of intense growth and passion comes a time of slowing down and then in Winter, a time of rest. This slowing down gives our bodies and souls a chance to integrate all that has been accomplished, so that we have the space to recognize and allow what is most needed next in our growth. It is a time of balance, of honoring both the light and the dark, of witnessing the gifts of the earth and the onset of crops dying as the earth enters dormancy. This seasonal cycle is part of our nature, too, and aligning with it helps us to lead balanced lives.

In what ways are you harvesting the fruits of your labor this year? What are you grateful for? For balance, take some time to reflect on the darker aspects of your soul as well. What has not come to fruition as you had hoped? Are there unfulfilled dreams and regrets? Can you include and be grateful for all it? You may want to write in a journal, or try a short ritual alone or with friends. A ritual could include:
• Decorating with yellow, gold, or autumn colors;
• Lighting two candles representing the balance of day and night, of light and dark, of harvest and fallowness—they could be black and white or whatever two colors represent this to you.
• Sitting in silence and reflecting on your harvest from the Summer, both the things you are grateful for and the regrets or unfulfilled dreams.
• Nourishing yourself with bread, apple cider, nuts, squash, corn, or any local, freshly harvested food;
• Naming or making a list of the things you are grateful for (your harvest);
• Naming or making a list of your regrets and unfulfilled dreams;
• Sitting quietly and breathing into both, knowing that both are needed for you to become whole: “Breathing in, I am breathing in [specific gratefulness or regret], Breathing out, I am breathing out [the same gratefulness or regret].”
• Saying thank you and blowing out the candle.

After the Autumn Equinox, the days slowly become shorter and shorter, until at Winter Solstice, we’ll be back to the longest night. May you welcome and find grace in this changing of the seasons.

Collage as a Practice. I’ve been learning about the Dark Feminine recently. Marion Woodman say she is “dark” because she is unconscious, that is, not yet brought into our consciousness. When things aren’t brought into consciousness, we are still affected by them—that unconscious energy influences the decisions we make, the ways we think…even what we magnetize to ourselves. And it’s usually the unconscious stuff that causes us to react in ways that are less than skillful.

The Feminine principle in both women and men has many expressions. I’m working with allowing Her unpredictability, Her ability to surrender and receive, Her capacity to be in the moment and receive pleasure, Her instinctive creatureliness, Her utter disregard for being “good” in favor of being real. Read more about this journey.

How do you experience the Dark Feminine in your life? What part of Her (You) are yearning to have come into consciousness?

Play. Every time I visit my sister and her family, I am reminded again about playing! Kids know how to do it—it’s part of how they learn about how to participate in the world. And it’s more than that. It’s also a practice of being.

This is me with Ruby, my 5-month old niece. Ruby Roo and Zander Salamander (3-year-old nephew) both played in as many of their waking moments as they could. Of course, play looks very different at those ages, but there are things in common. They were completely absorbed in what they were doing—be it exploring feet or building with legos—there is an entering into the moment with deep attention and focus. There’s curiosity and delight in exploration—each new discovery leading to the next, leading to the next, in a beautiful sense of flow. And there is such a sense of beingness—they are simply in themselves in the activity—no self-judging, no second-guessing, no anticipating, no daydreaming…in the moment.

I always dive in as deeply as I can when I visit, and often leave a bit exhausted from the nonstop kid-time. It’s not as easy for me to be present as they are naturally, so even though I was consciously practicing surrendering to their flow, I had to keep managing my sense of overwhelm, which takes a lot of energy!

How do you play? Do you make time for it regularly? Do you become completely absorbed in activities you love? (See below for one of the ways I practice playing when I’m back home…)

Summit Hill Laughter Club! Come explore the art of laughter to invite more joy, play, and wellbeing into your life! Because of the deep pranayamic breathing exercises, this form of practice is also called Laughter Yoga, but it does not include any physical asanas and can be practiced by people of all ages who are willing to be a little bit silly. It was started in 1995 by a family physician in India and is now widely practiced in over 65 countries around the world. Medical research supports its physical and emotional health-giving effects. Children who come with their parents are welcome.

I am a Certified Laughter Yoga leader, offering a club every 2 weeks this Fall at the Corner Studio of St. Paul Yoga Center at 1162 Selby Avenue. Please join us on Wednesdays September 26, October 10 & 24, November 7 & 21, and December 5 & 19 from 7:30-8:30 pm. No registration required and no fixed cost, by donation! Please contact me if you have any questions–I would love to laugh with you!

Reverending/Ceremony. I absolutely love performing ceremonies that bring more honoring of our intentions and love into the world! I just celebrated two weddings in July and two in September. This above laughing picture was from a wedding I also performed. Let me know if I can assist you in honoring any transitions or special moments in your life. You can read more about my practice of ministry.

The Enneagram. I’d like to give a deep bow to my boss, friend, and Enneagram teacher, Don Riso, who passed from this world on August 30th, 2012. Read more.

Without the discoveries and insight he received and published about the Enneagram, I doubt I would have this beautiful, comprehensive, and transformational system in my life. I also wouldn’t have had the great good fortune of working for Don and The Enneagram Institute or of meeting Dave through a Riso-Hudson Workshop.

I can hardly believe that he is no longer here in this physical world, I am grieving his loss, and I am extremely grateful for his devotion to the Enneagram, his teaching, and his friendship over the 10 years I knew him.

Dave and I will be carrying forth the Riso-Hudson work this Fall by offering a new Study Group series. We are excited to explore how we hold and perpetuate our type in our bodies, something Don, too, was working on. For more information, see our calendar

Autumn Blessings, Katy