The Autumn Equinox Arrives!
"Equi" – equal, "Nox" – night, means equal lengths of night and day, the amount of time the sun spends above and below the horizon. Changes in day/night length and seasons occur because of the tilt of the Earth and our rotation around the Sun. While the September Equinox marks the start of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the start of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. The Earth's tilt combined with its rotation causes the Sun to be directly overhead on the equinoxes, so the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are illuminated equally.
Between the March Equinox and the September Equinox (Spring and Fall in the Northern Hemisphere), the sun shines longer on the Northern Hemisphere than on the Southern Hemisphere. Then, after crossing the Autumn Equinox, day length in the Northern Hemisphere decreases steadily until the winter solstice.
Connecting with the Seasons
Traditional cultures tracked the motions of the Earth and the seasons using ritual and architecture. Many modern cultures and individuals do this as well. Marking seasonal changes is a way of maintaining connection with and appreciation for the Earth and cycles of life. Observing daily and seasonal changes connects us to natural rhythms that can be easy to forget. When we're surrounded by artificial light, controlled temperature and electronic stimulation we can lose track of time and seasons. However, we're all deeply connected to these cycles through our internal circadian rhythms. We can get in touch with these internal clocks by paying attention to what's happening in the natural world around us and in our own inner worlds.
An Autumn Equinox Meditation
Perhaps on this Equinox, you can make time to sit outside in a favorite spot. Or if you can't sit outside, maybe you can find a quiet spot indoors near a window. As you sit, tune in to each sense.
Breathe deeply in and notice the aromas in the air. Whether smells from a nearby kitchen or arising from the Earth, what scents find their way to your nose?
Now notice what you hear all around you, without judgement. Listen for sounds on the ground, in the air, close by and far away. Allow the sounds to pass through your ears and go on their way. Sounds may evoke emotions. Can you let those go?
Notice what you feel, on your skin, in your hair, the Earth beneath you, the air all around you, the space within you connecting with the space outside of you. Can you feel how your inner space and the space around you are connected?
Can you taste the air, a plant or tree? Notice any sensations, textures and flavors on your tongue. What information does this sense collect for you?
Observe with your eyes, the tiny details around you. Focus up close, and then let your gaze soften and float to the distance. Notice without judgement, and try to look as if you've never seen any of these sights before.
Let your eyes close. Enjoy the sensory experience, and simply sit, taking deep inhales and exhales, letting go of thoughts as they arise and you notice them, and returning to your senses. Give yourself this gift of time and attention to the Earth you're a part of. What are you wanting to let go of? What are you wanting to change and embrace? Allow yourself time to generate and sit with these intentions.
When you're ready to get up, let yourself feel gratitude for the sensory experiences you've had. Acknowledge and appreciate yourself for taking time to stop and be present. Breathe deep, stretch your body, and carry this experience with you as you go on about your day.
Return to this practice any time and anywhere when you want to ground yourself, be present with what is, let go and reset.