life practices: autumn equinox

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 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 2011, the Autumn Equinox happens at 9:04 am on September 23rd.

Autumn Equinox reminds us not only to be grateful for the long Summer days of bright light and warmth that nourished our bodies, souls, and earth, but also to orient consciously to the changing season and the growing darkness. We’re headed into a darker, quieter, more internal time as we move toward the Winter Solstice. We can take a lesson from the leaves on the trees that will soon blaze with their last, vivid colors and then start to let go and fall to the ground. They know how to surrender to the changing of the seasons—and they do so with such splendor and beauty!

As this new season begins and we head into the changing colors and falling leaves, into a time of growing darkness, what changes do you need to surrender into? The Summer of expansion, abundance, and blossoming is coming to an end. What quieter, calmer, more inward rhythm is calling to you? Can you hear it and heed its call? Can you allow yourself to change colors and fall like the leaves, if necessary, all the way to the ground? What wisdom is there for you? You may want to write in a journal, or try a short ritual alone or with friends. A ritual could include:
• Lighting a candle of yellow, gold, or autumn colors;
• Sitting in silence and reflecting on your harvest from the Summer and what you are being called to surrender as we move into the growing dark;
• Nourishing yourself with bread, apple cider or other seasonal juice, and any local, freshly harvested food;
• Naming or making a list of all the things you are grateful for (your harvest);
• Sitting quietly and breathing into the support, nourishment, and care you have received that will help you make this next transition with ease and grace;
• 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.

Movement. Dave and I had the opportunity to participate in a 4-day Labor Day Weekend workshop about developing awareness of the wisdom of the body. It was such a gift to have this time to not be working, managing a home, even interacting with other parts of my life, and to just focus on listening and responding and learning with my body’s energy, flow, and rhythms. I’ve added embodiment practice into my daily morningtime as a way to include this new awareness more in the rest of my day. I had a pretty profound experience of letting go of self- and body-images during the workshop, which you can read about in my noface blogpost. What is your relationship with your body like? Are you aware of your body’s sensations? Do they bring you information? How do you listen?

Collage. It’s nice to feel the inspiration to collage again! I find it to be such a fun and joyful way to make meaning out of my life. Coming back from the movement workshop and finding the images to express what was largely a nonverbal experience helped me to process and understand what I had experienced. And then, as part of the opening of a year-long course in contentment, another collage wanted to be born, exploring my experience of contentment, which I am calling “serenity” for now. What ways do you have to make meaning, to allow yourself to explore deeply, underneath the words?

Laughter Yoga! I am now a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader! 🙂 HaHaHa!! Laughter Yoga is a practice 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 Dr. Kataria, 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.

I took this practice on to go against my type One identification with being overly serious, responsible, disciplined–someone who rarely has time to play or have fun…It’s been a really important part of my path of becoming more whole as a person. I’m still a serious, responsible person, but I’m playfully serious—and seriously playful! I’m much easier to be around and don’t get as stuck when I’m feeling stressed. And I enjoy my life a whole lot more! How do you embrace the fun, silly, playful part of yourself? Next time you have a good clean laugh, notice how good you feel–body, heart, and mind.

Read more information about my teacher, Jody Ross, in Minnesota, and find a Laughter Club near you. I will be leading an introductory session at Unity Unitarian Church on November 16th, and hope to get a regular Wednesday evening Laughter Club going in 2012.

Poetry. I’ll leave you with a poem that is speaking to me about this turning of the year into Fall. It is an excerpt from Directions by Billy Collins from The Art of Drowning.

The best time is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things and you will hear nothing
but a sprig of birdsong or the leafy
falling of a cone or nut through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing-beats of geese
driving overhead toward some destination.
But it is hard to speak of these things
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles
how we who will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.

Autumn Laughter Blessings, Katy

Author: Katy Taylor

I am a regular person, like you. I am an earth lover, a seeker, a singer, a gardener, a partner and friend. I have attended a lot of trainings and continue to do my work to grow and deepen and become a more loving person. If you're interested, you can read more about me on the About page.

2 thoughts on “life practices: autumn equinox”

  1. Katy, I didn’t know you do laughter yoga! I’ve always been a little afraid to try it. I like to laugh, but I’m scared of something….perhaps scared I’ll fake it? ….scared I’ll laugh a little and then be persuaded to laugh more even though I don’t really want to? ….scared I’ll feel like I have to laugh once I’m with the laughter group.

    (and now that i wrote that bit, it sounds a lot like feelings about sex, doesn’t it?)


    1. hi mary! in my experience, feeling afraid of faking it, of being pressured is about pushing my boundaries of the unknown. about allowing myself to try something and trusting that i will participate in a way that’s good for me…that’s a biggie–that i can trust myself in the moment to choose what i need in the moment. and yes, that’s hard! i’m still developing that one in all arenas of my life…


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