While this year has brought immense uncertainty, change and chaos, the turning of the wheel is always constant. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, somehow, some way, we have made it to fall. Marked by the equinox- equal day and equal night- and the shift into Libra season on September 22nd, this is the time of year where we inch inward towards ourselves, towards the shadows of solace and reflection. It’s a time of harvest, gathering up all we’ve cultivated through the summer, through the year, to take with us into winter. We also cleanse, clear, purge, organize, restore balance to that which is extreme or no longer serving. We let go of everything we no longer wish to hang on to, materially and emotionally. This is the season of making space, creating peace, tying loose ends, cultivating depth, honoring the past, and restoring equanimity.
Although summer is always a bittersweet goodbye, fall could not have come at a better time for us all collectively. We have been through a lot this year, we continue to be tested and tried and many of us are rightfully exhausted. Unbridled upheaval and transformation is happening politically, environmentally, societally, and personally- and a deep grounding and recalibration has never been more necessary. If we are not properly taking care of ourselves we will be unable to fully show up for the work being asked of us. Burnout is real, and this emergent world needs us filled up to overflow.
Grounding essentially means slowing down, attuning your body and breath with the earth’s natural rhythms, finding your own natural rhythm, stabilizing your nervous system, and like a strong tree, rooting your entire being from the ground up so you are able to withstand all the elements of life.
It can be difficult to find space when there is much to take care of, but the ingress of autumn gives us full permission. We’ve compiled some simple grounding rituals that are perfect ways to slow down into the season, and easy enough to hopefully integrate into your daily life. Most of these are based around the holistic and balancing principles of Ayurveda, a natural system of medicine that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. In Sanskrit Ayurveda means “knowledge of life,” and the principles of this ancient wisdom remind us that the entire web of life is always acting in symbiosis.
May these practices help you find some spaciousness amidst the turbulence, and may you carry this with you for support into the depths of winter.
Eating with the seasons is a great, easy way to nourish and cleanse your body. Autumn in Ayurveda promotes Vata tendencies- aka dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool and clear energy.
So to balance this air element, more hearty, grounding foods are suggested. Seasonal squashes, root vegetables, dark greens, cooked grains like quinoa, amaranth, rice, and oats are recommended, as well as healthy fats from seeds, nuts, avocados and eggs. Bone broth is also a nourishing tonic for all the body’s systems. Think about how you can add one autumnal grounding food to each meal and notice the subtleties in your body after.
An amazing self-care practice is oil massage. Before a bath or shower, or as a morning/ evening routine, a 10-15 minute oil massage works wonders for your circulation, nerves and lymphatic system. This practice not only feels wonderful but also helps eliminate impurities from the skin and body and increases strength and flexibility of muscles and joints. Coconut oil or sesame oil is recommended, for those who run hotter and colder respectively.
The benefits of having a morning routine have been touted many ways, many times. It’s undeniably a powerful way to start your day from a centered place. But a morning practice can look different for everyone; maybe it’s a short meditation, sitting with a book while you drink your coffee or tea, taking a walk around your neighborhood, doing a few stretches or free writing/ drawing. Whatever calms your mind and body is welcome here, but the most important boundary to uphold is unplugging. Screens activate our nervous systems and stress our adrenals and most of us spend excessive amounts of time on them as it is. If you can find a way to spend even the first 20 minutes of your day without looking at a screen your internal self will thank you.
Plants and herbs are our often-overlooked allies and friends. They are always here to support us in living our best earthly lives, not just when we are sick but through preventive care as well. They are generous even when we feel lack. In these times of immense duress our bodies could use the extra support from nature's best helpers. Here are few of our favorites that can be taken in tinctures or as loose leaf tea. We also recommend consulting and supporting your local herbalists as well.
Nettles are an all time favorite~ they help rebalance our adrenals when we are fatigued, can help alleviate anxiety, flush out toxins from our liver and kidneys, and works as an antihistamine during allergy flare-ups. They are a wonder herb for all that ails.
Oatstraw is also a wonderful nervous system tonifer and works to alleviate stress and promote wellbeing. It is full of rich minerals that nourish bones, teeth and body, and is a gentle restorative herb perfect for those that are cold, depleted, tired or chronically burnt out.
Motherwort is a cooling and relaxing nervine that is commonly used for healing the physical and emotional heart. It is also known to help relieve anxiety, and support the regulation and balancing of the uterus, kidneys and digestive system.
Additionally warming herbs and spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and black pepper are great fall additions as they stimulate circulation, aid digestion, regulate blood sugar, threaten bacteria, remove excess water from our tissues and overall keep us internally warm as the days get cooler.
Below is a delicious, dairy free chai recipe you can make at home courtesy of Chelsea Shapouri. Chelsea is a private chef, yoga instructor and currently in training to receive her Ayurvedic practitioner license, based in Sebastopol, California. Her work is focused around primitive cooking, movement medicine, and reclaiming sensuality. She’s also a great photographer. You can find more of her work at https://primal-harmony.com/
1 Tbsp Whole All spice
2 Tbsp Cardamom Seeds
3 Anise stars
1 Tbsp Whole Cloves
3 Cinnamon Sticks
2 Tsp ground dry ginger
2 Inches fresh ginger grated
7 pepper corns
1 Tsp coriander
6 cups of filtered water
2 Tbsp Pu'er tea and Calendula flowers
1/4 cup cashews
1 Tbsp sweetener of choice
Grind the spices up (everything but the tea herbs) with mortar and pestle or grinder then add into a large pot. It helps to first smash the cinnamon sticks then put them straight into the pot. Dry roast the spices for about 1-2 minutes on medium heat. You will start to see the smoke rise up and then you add the water. Bring water to a boil for about 3-4 minutes then turn the heat off and cover the pot. The longer it stays covered the stronger the chai! This is when you add the teas of choice and go practice some light stretching, journaling, or reading for an hour while you wait. When ready, strain into glass jars and seal shut. Keep out to cool before storing in the refrigerator. To make a single serving cup or a cup for two follow the directions below:
Put cashews and dates at the bottom of a high speed blender. Pour in some of the chai mixture until the cashes are just covered (best if chai is still hot.) Blend on high speed until smooth then add the rest of the amount you wish and the sweetener of choice.
Top with cinnamon or nutmeg and simply enjoy!
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