For 8 years, I lived on a tiny, 5-square-mile Caribbean island. In the fall and winter, as the daylight dwindled and it got dark earlier, something interesting happened. I began to see what it was like going way back in time, before there was so much electricity.
On this island, the Internet was pretty sketchy. There were almost no street lights. The houses and electricity were very basic. By 8:00 pm, many of the neighboring houses were completely dark and everyone was going to bed. By 5:00 am, everyone was waking up with the sunlight.
This is how our ancestors lived – on island time. We went with the rhythms of nature, going to bed shortly after the sun set and waking up with the sunrise. Our bodies were more attuned to these rhythms. These days, we have electricity and technology that allows us to stay up as long as we want.
Light from light bulbs, phones, computers, TV and general city lights signal our pineal gland (third eye area of the brain) that it’s wake time. This could inhibit our natural sleep cycles.
I used to think there was something wrong with me when I began to feel tired around 6 or 7 pm during the fall and winter. Now I realize that it’s nature’s way of signalling my body to move into a place of quiet, stillness and rest. I now realize it’s wind down time. It’s nature asking my body to move into a rhythm that keeps my body healthy.
This Is a Time to Slow Down
working smarter not harder…Right now, we are moving into the harvest. It’s a time when we may want to take stock in our lives and of our possessions. While our ancestors were harvesting the land, we are likely reorganizing our lives around what’s important to us. Perhaps we are letting go of old things to make way for new beginnings. This is all part of the energy of fall. We begin to slow down, so that we can rest and replenish our adrenals and kidneys for the winter season.
It is a time of slower contemplation, which some may mistake for fatigue or depression. This is not a time to push. It’s a time to go into your body and listen for what’s important to you. It’s a time to listen deeply to your second and third brains (the gut and the heart, which have brain tissue and act as inner guides). It’s a time to allow your inner voice to lead you away from what’s no longer serving you and move toward what makes your heart sing. It’s a preparation for deep rest. For working smart instead of working hard.
In Chinese Medicine, Fall Is the Season of Metal Element
The organs of the metal element are the lungs (taking in the new) and the large intestine (letting go of what no longer serves you). A great exercise during this time is to take deep, healing breaths:
- Breathe in deeply, breathing love into every cell of your body.
- Breathe out with the sound of “ssssssss” (the healing sound of the fall season and metal element), letting everything go.
- Continue this for 10 breaths.
This is the perfect time to start or recommit to a meditation or mindfulness practice. It’s also a wonderful time to use slow cooking methods, like using your crockpot or stockpot to make thick, blended soups, bone or veggie broths or quinoa or millet pilafs with leeks, broccoli and butternut squash. Here are some recipes to get you started:
What would you like to embrace or let go of as we move deeper into the fall season?
Here’s a picture of my husband, Joel, and me on a hike through the rain forest on that tiny Caribbean island. I learned a lot about slowing down and appreciating the rhythms of nature while living there.
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