Embrace the natural transitions of autumn with these resolutions.
It’s so easy for us to pigeon-hole resolutions to January 1, the time when 45% of Americans “commit” to somehow bettering themselves–through diet, good deeds, or some combination thereof. The past few years I’ve eschewed the tradition of only saying I can change at a certain time of year, and yet fall for me seems to send out an irresistible clarion call for something new and different: there’s that *feeling* in the air, discernible in body and spirit, that smells of both fireplaces and new pencils. The smell of change.
If you’re eager to embody this transitional moment as well, and with the Equinox occuring today (Thursday the 22nd) (a date that isn’t fixed, btw…), here are some ideas for fall resolutions that aren’t quite such…rather than making be-all-end-all statements on what you will be, they challenge what you could be, and ask you to acknowledge how very impermanent our world really is. Looking at nature, we see during fall that the luscious, ostentatious display of life in summer is ultimately temporary, and yet we know, too, that the death and clarity of a leafless winter will also come to an end in a few short months. We can think of ourselves the same way: beings constantly in motion, adaptable, flexible. The ability to bend in the wind is ultimately what makes trees able to survive their environment, and who wouldn’t want to be as solid and sturdy as a tree?
1. Make a routine, any routine. The Ayurveda philosophy has one getting up around 4:30 in the morning not just for the heck of it but because one needs a lot of time to simply accomplish the balancing and centering work one does before the day begins; it includes oil pulling, meditation, light exercise, and a wholesome breakfast. Even on my detox, I couldn’t quite commit to that regularity, but I am a schedule kind of girl, and I take comfort in knowing that certain things will happen every day. Routines also cut down on the number of decisions I have to make, when there are so many of them coming at me from others throughout the day: how to answer this email, who to invite to lunch, whether a manuscript I read for work is worth pursuing for publication, etc.
Eliminate that stress by finding one or two things you can reliably do every day this fall. Maybe it’s as simple as a morning cup of tea, or a walk after your lunch (no #saddesklunches, though!). Make it something that you know will be hard to disrupt so success is more likely. You’ll take a new comfort in this little ritual and look forward to something in your day you know you can control.
2. Then, add one new thing to your routine every day. I know, you’re probably already confused by these suggestions–why break a routine once I make it? But in order to fully embrace our unpredictable world, we need to also build muscles of adaptability and newness. Again, this need not be something drastic: choosing a different kind of tea each day, for example. My personal resolution for this point is to use one item of makeup I normally wouldn’t every day. I don’t have 20 things to choose from, normally it’s either blush or eyeliner or bold lipstick on top of my neutral makeup routine, but that little change is a pick-me-up each day, and keeps my look from feeling stagnant and predictable. And we all know fall is anything but…!
3. Set an intention for change. This one is a little more open-ended and long-term. Look ahead to the months that will lead to winter and decide on something bigger you want to change in yourself or about how you interact with others around you. It’s a new school year, so a project-oriented mind is not that challenging to recall from your childhood. Take on that joy-sparked closet purge that will allow you to grow beyond your old, hoarded belongings and start new; or, make an action plan for the new business/blog/craft/course you want to take that will advance your career–or just make you happy. Change itself is a sort of reliable occurrence (like death and taxes), so facing it with an intention can help you feel more in control of that variability.
4. Find balance and equanimity in mind and body. Remember our friends the trees? Well, the reason that their leaves change colors and are able to “die” and be “reborn” each year is because of the change in light patterns throughout the year. In autumn, we have an equinox–equal light and darkness–and thus an opportunity to find a similar balance of energy ourselves. If you practice yoga, think of what it takes to find balance in Vriksasana, tree pose: you can’t help but wobble since your center of gravity is thrown off, but a fluid ankle joint and strong mula bhanda (the root lock, or the engagement/lift of the pelvic floor) will help you get there. Balancing top and bottom, side to side, front to back, can manifest in daily life, too: work/life, elusive as it may be, or perhaps just balance in your day. Eating balanced meals is one idea, or try practicing Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing, to balance the mind and male-female energies in the left and right sides of the body. Internalizing the equality of the universe at this time will keep you in harmony with nature.
5. Embrace comfort and retreat. We’ve only had a whiff of fall air so far in NYC, and yet even those handful of brisk mornings made me want to break out my sweaters and stock up on chai tea. Fall and winter are the seasons of retreat, hibernation, a turning inwards as a means to restore and nourish the body after the powerful heat and busyness of spring and summer. All that energy and movement, the growth that comes from those seasons, can’t go on eternally, just as we need time to recharge ourselves. Find activities, alone or with friends, that are more quieting and protective, and don’t be afraid to schedule some extra me-time these coming months. Think of yourself not as being anti-social but rather as a tulip bulb burrowing deep in the soil, preparing to emerge all the more beautifully come spring.
How will you enact these fall resolutions?
Also by Jennifer: Spend v. Save: An NYC Book Editor’s Vegan Budget
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