Nature’s Rhythms: Self-awareness Series
Self-awareness is a healer’s journey. It can be one of the most challenging and life altering tasks you can take on for your growth. Once a pattern, core belief, unhelpful thought or other symptom drifts into your awareness it can be difficult to let that knowledge sit. Sometimes that new understanding of yourself benefits from being held for a while with total love and compassion.
Returning to rhythm with the cosmos can make your life easier as you create supports that reduce stress on your system. When we notice things veering off course and work to realign with universal patterns we work less and feel better faster. Our schedules are jam packed these days so the less we have to do to start to feel good the better. There is an initial investment period. The information gathering phase. At the beginning you’ll need to know your unique needs and gain a better understanding of what Mama Earth is up to in order to honor the way you come together. Although you can totally do this work alone, it’s also okay, and can be beneficial to ask for some help.
According to Ayurveda, the seasons, much like the elements within us, have particular qualities, or gunas. The qualities of our environment can aggravate or pacify our unique makeup. Depending on our constitution, the qualities that are specific to us, we may love or hate certain seasons based on the way they communicate with our system. However, we may enjoy the gifts of all the seasons more when we understand their influence and create a routine to reduce adverse effects and imbalances. When treating your inner world remember that like increases like and opposites balance.
Balance creates an optimal environment for healing to take place. The life forces of the body know what to do, but they struggle when tension or blocks are present impeding flow. Most important during this inquiry is listen to how different practices, lifestyle changes, and diet suggestions feel in your body and mind. You’re your greatest wisdom source.
The year is divided into four parts based on the earth’s movement. As the earth moves the weather shifts, and a climate unique to that time of year will emerge. We’ll look mainly at the Northern Hemisphere, although much of this information can be adapted to any location. With Ayurveda, instead of four season we look at three categories based on their impact on the doshas, or forces that can cause harm when not functioning normally. These categories, which fall within the seasons represent the movement of life itself- growth, ripening and serving, and dying away or preparing to transition back into life. They flow one into another and you may notice qualities of one guide you into the next. Adjust your care based on these observations. Since we haven’t covered the doshas yet we’ll stick with connecting to Nature through the gateway of the four seasons.
On March 20th/21st spring begins with the Vernal or Spring Equinox. During the equinox we experience the day as equal amounts of light and dark, as we transition into longer days and shorter nights. Both plants and animals begin to wake and come out of their winter spells. Vegetation takes root, sprouts and begins to grow. Animals and birds return, bringing new life with them or prepare for birth. This season is about loosening from the bind of winter and introducing new life. Each season informs us about the one to come. Rather than an abrupt end, we receive hints before it arrives and as it ends to help us prepare and take better care of our needs. In spring, just as we see the snow melt away the warmth that arises breaks up excess in the body that has accumulated in the winter as well. You may notice more mucus around this time (sorry!).
Qualities: Heavy, moist, cool and getting warmer
Weather: Warmer and wetter. Increased rainfall and melting snow.
What to consider for balance:
Diet: You might start to crave lighter foods, start to reduce snacking and overeating. Favor pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.
Movement: Keep the body moving to shift out sluggishness from winter.
Clothing: Dress in warmer tones in the early spring and cooler tones as you near the heat of summer.
Activities: Play and Socialize
Summer begins around June 20th/21st with the Summer Solstice with the most daylight of any day in the year. With increased temperatures you’ll start to see increased growth. Vegetation will ripen, animals and humans learn and grow. Your local farmer’s market will be busier and more abundant. The heat of the sun is helping life continue its growth. Qualities: Hot, humid, drying over time
Weather: Temperatures are at their hottest. Warm temps and less rain can lead to drought or heat waves.
What to consider for balance:Diet: Light foods and small meals. Favor sweet, bitter and astringent tastes.
Movement: Avoid exercising at the peak of the day and to only a percentage of your max capacity. Think calm practices.
Clothing: Cooling colors and breathable fabricsActivity: Rest, relaxation and have fun
Fall begins on the Autumn equinox, September 22nd/23rd, long days begins to transition into longer nights with an equal amount of light and dark. As temperatures begin to cool Nature begins to prepare for the sleepiness of winter. Resources such as food and other plant life start to go dormant or die away. Animals migrate or get ready to hibernate, people used to prepare by harvesting crops, canning, freezing or drying to make sure they have stock for the chilly winter months ahead before the grocery store started delivering our food right to our door.
Qualities: Dry, cool, and mobile (windy)
Weather: Temperatures start to cool again.
What to consider for balance:
Diet: Nourishing foods and warming spices that are soft and oily (this can be accomplished with thoughtful food prep). Favor sweet, sour and salty tastes.
Movement: Slow and strong. Schedule in rest time after activities.
Clothing: Dress in warmer tones. Pack an extra scarf or layer to stay warm.
Activities: Introduce daily routines for stability.
Winter begins December 21/22 with the Winter Solstice, the shortest period of daylight in the year. During this season we slow way down. Plants, animals and people look to sleep more, to rest and conserve the resources available during this time. Take advantage and give yourself permission to rest as well. This is a great time to go inward and withdraw. Qualities of Winter: cold, heavy, moist, but depending on your location it may also be dry.
Weather: Cooler temperatures. Snow, ice and rainfall.
What to consider for balance:
Diet: You may be craving a more substantial, nourishing diet. Favor sweet, sour and salty and as you near spring you shift toward bitter, astringent and pungent tastes as the weather warms.
Movement: If you live somewhere dry, or if you feel worn or stressed out, stick with practices that are gentle, slow and strong. If you live somewhere snowy or rainy, or if you’re feeling sluggish, move your body more. Try to hike, ski, jog or do a more vigorous yoga practice.
Clothing: Bright, warm colors.
Activity: Less light and cooler temps can make travel outside difficult. Many people tend to feel blue and lonely during this time. Embrace the darkness and spend time reflecting and finding moments of quiet. Balance this with time spent engaged in meaningful relationships. Allow yourself to be slow.
Last month was an introduction to using the cosmic energy of the moon to understand and support optimal health. Visit and read Lunar Medicine if you haven’t had a chance yet. Get notified of upcoming segments and articles by signing up for notifications on Facebook or by emailing me at email@example.com to join my newsletter.