The Autumn Equinox: preparing the body to harness its potential
Equinoxes are a time of great potential for change, but they can also push us into a healing crisis, and feel like a tidal wave sweeping us off our feet. To really harness the autumn equinox’s potential, we need to stay clear, focussed and connected. A nutritional approach can help you find a clear way forward.
The cycle of the seasons
Autumn is a beautiful season with copper leaves swirling around us as nature prepares to settle down for the colder months. We are very much a part of nature, and have an innate drive to respond to these seasonal changes.
Starting in the spring and early summer, our environment has been experiencing a distinctive upwards thrust, as plants shoot and flowers unfold. We too can use this energy to unfurl from our winter contraction, and gather momentum as we spiral outwards to match the blazing energy of the sun.
Now it’s time to start drawing ourselves into our centre again, spiralling gently inwards. We breathe in, gather ourselves in to reflect, and protect against the harsh winter to come.
Holding back… or letting go
Many of us are not so responsive to the seasonal cycles, however. We may not open fully as we uncoil in the spring, but stay a little contracted. It’s a natural, protective stress response to stay coiled, ready to spring into action – to fight or to flee. It accompanies the modern state of living on our adrenals: depleted and bombarded by ongoing stresses. Perhaps a difficult relationship or a stressful job; added to toxins in our water, food, medicines and air, and electromagnetic interference all around us.
As we hold on tightly our very cells contract, and we gradually become more toxic and stuck.
It is at this point that the extraordinary energy of an equinox can create the shift we need to free ourselves up and move forward again.
A moment of infinite possibility
The autumn equinox is the fulcrum point at which that seasonal change in direction occurs: from spiralling out to spiralling in. As such, it is a moment of infinite possibility.
There’s something special about the pause between the breath out… and the beginning of the next breath in. It’s a pause filled with potential, an opportunity for change like no other.
As we discover from Bird & Tompkins in “Secrets of the Soil”, when you stir water first in one circular direction and then the other to create an energising vortex, the true magic occurs at the point when the direction is changed and brief chaos ensues. Within that turbulence, hundreds of tiny vortices are created, energising the fluid with the vibrancy of as many little tornados.
So when we notice the energy of the seasons spiralling first outwards and then inwards, we can start to understand how the equinoxes, those moments of directional change, can bring us the energy of a multitude of vortices to help us shift stuck emotions, patterns and toxicity.
We know from millennia of experience that the force of this shift can often lead to a healing crisis. A healing crisis is what happens when toxicity – be it toxins, waste materials or unresolved emotions – is suddenly released from the cells, and quickly overloads the body’s routes of elimination. Acute episodes such as rashes, diarrhoea, colds and flu can be quick to appear to help take the load off the thickened and struggling lymph.
The Chinese word for crisis, literally translated, means “danger-opportunity.” With any healing crisis, we can use it as an opportunity to free ourselves of what’s being shifted – or we can suppress the uncomfortable symptoms and push ourselves into a more chronic state. We can do this with suppressive medications, by bingeing on certain foods, or by keeping ourselves constantly busy. We can even do this with alternative approaches that focus only on alleviating symptoms.
So as we approach the autumn equinox, it is important that we take time and space to support ourselves. Natural Nutrition offers a wholistic approach to this. The approach helps you to make connections, recognise your patterns, and create space to move forward, offering dietary advice and simple naturopathic techniques to support you on your way.
The first step would be to gradually remove as much stress as possible, so the body can breathe and move freely again and so fully hydrate. We think hydration is about drinking enough water, but actually it’s more to do with how well that water flows in and out of our cells, nourishing, cleansing and carrying information.
Nutritional support for the autumn equinox
We can’t always remove external stresses in our lives, but we can take much of the stress out of our diet. Look at the quality and quantity of water you are drinking. How many preservatives, additives, transfats and pesticides are in your food? How much sugar, caffeine and alcohol?
When we eat fresh, clean, seasonal produce, preferably locally grown, we are connecting back into nature’s cycles. We have evolved to thrive on the food that grows around us in each season, and have developed cooking habits to match. In the summer, our faster, fiery digestive system loves cooling salads, and works well with raw vegetables and quickly digesting fruits. As the weather gets colder, however, or if we are stuck in a colder, more contracted internal condition, our digestive system slows down and our bellies need more fire. Soups and bakes are often much more suited to autumn/winter energy in our Northern European climate.
We can also use the energetic of food to support us. Fruit and vegetables grown above the ground have a higher vibration; whereas root vegetables and proteins, especially animal proteins, are much denser and therefore more grounding. Chinese Five Elements theory teaches us that that bitter leaves, such as kale, can also help draw our energy downwards, and that pungent foods, such as onions and garlic, are especially supportive in the autumn months.
Above all, take some time out, connect in and give yourself the attention and support you need to make the most of this golden opportunity.
Published in Holistic Living magazine, September 2010