Summer in the Pacific NW is beginning to wind down with some cooler days in the forecast. Whether we like it or not, we are reminded of the change of seasons coming later in the month. The impending fall routine is lurking in our subconscious. As we glean a few more weeks’ worth of free-spirited inspiration from those long, warm, social days of summer, we also feel the earth’s call to ground and move towards conservation of energy. The Indian Summer, represented by the Earth Element in the Chinese Medicine wheel, calls us to connect deeply with the earth and use our “transition tools” to create balance and health during times of change.
Most of us get stirred up pretty good during the summer. That’s the point. Stir your body, your heart, your mind. Explore new places, activities, and people. Get connected and expose yourself to new ideas. Although we relax our marriage to structured routine a bit, we certainly don’t relax our overall activity. Hyper stimulation is a reality of summer and we thrive on it, even depend on it to last until the arrival of the first buds of spring. But downshifting from summer to fall can feel like landing an airplane on a short runway if we’re not practiced in the art of transitions. The Indian Summer can cause quite a rough landing if you pile on too much, too fast, with little foresight and no aftercare.
So consider the following Transition Tools when you feel the cool winds of change and you find yourself frantically sifting through your self-care tool box:
1.Sit still often. 5 minutes of stillness a few times a day will do wonders for your health, decision making and overall sense of wellbeing. It might be hard the first few times you do it. You’ll think you don’t even have 5 minutes when fall routines hit alongside the current social schedule rhythm, but trust me. If you want to hold onto that happy summer feeling, then you better sit still often. This practice will be infinitely more beneficial as you improve your ability to deeply and quickly relax. So, close your eyes, relax your jaw, drop those shoulders, put your feet flat on the floor (or better yet, just lay down) and breathe into your belly. Wait for your breath to feel less “forced” and more natural (~ 1-2 minutes). Enjoy that feeling while your body further relaxes and clarity forms in your mind. Thank me later when you avoid the first round of seasonal colds.
2.Clean up your body. You knew that was coming. Yes, it’s time to reduce the intake of chips, wine and BBQ pork sandwiches (my personal summer favorite). This can be a gradual decline over the month to allow for end of summer socializing. But do remember that as summer’s heat declines, so will your ability to naturally sweat and shed those extra summer dietary calories. Do a short cleanse (see the Vitality Club Special) to clear out some summer excess and avoid closet panic when last fall’s new jean purchase doesn’t fit. For men, it might look more like that favorite extra-large T-shirt that you washed over and over again this summer. With the bounty of summer, this is also an excellent time to dive into garden fresh veggie dinners multiple times a week
3.Plan for your preferred pace. Ramp up slowly and methodically with your fall activities. Add in one new routine item at a time. Allow for quality time with friends and for celebrating the earth. Mother Nature gifted us this short window of Indian Summer to connect again and get clear about what is truly meaningful. Don’t waste it on dealing with a constant stress response to the intensity of fall routines and workloads. Resist overscheduling, over performing, and undermining your natural sense of calm.
Creating peaceful transitions throughout the year is an art form. It requires tuning into your inner calm while the world around you spins into new forms of “busy”ness. As the sunset of summer begins, the earth is calling you to stay connected and walk barefooted on her, still. Can you feel your old friend, gravity, pulling and tugging on you? It’s always there to gently remind you that below all the structured routines and mindsets of life, you are of the earth and always will be.