by: Sara Avant Stover
Autumn is my favorite time of the year, perhaps because I grew up in Connecticut surrounded by the splendor of changing leaves. The season’s crisp winds, golden light, and first days of school instill a fresh, buzzing, alive feeling inside. I feel inspired to complete unfinished projects before the holidays, and I love bringing out cuddly winter sweaters, woolly scarves, and cozy tights. Long walks through crinkly leaves remind me of romping in leaf piles on my way home from school as a young girl.
The magic of the season extends deeper than our wardrobes, though, for during these crucial months, nature prepares for her long winter’s rest and teaches us to do the same. It is time to gather, store, organize, and wind down from summer’s high tempo and the relentless forward momentum that modern living usually demands. When the crisp winds of autumn start to blow, we need to tune in to the signal that it’s time to start slowing down. As leaves fall to the ground, they decay and merge with the earth once again. We too are in the process of letting things wither and fall away to gather only what is essential for the winter months. We’re reminded that, eventually, we have to let go of everything in order to die countless little deaths in each of our lifetimes, and this ultimately prepares us for the final letting go.
Beginning with the fall equinox in September (March in the southern hemisphere), when the dark and the light live in equal measure, the days grow shorter and shorter until the longest night of the year arrives with the winter solstice. In the Jewish tradition Rosh Hashanah calls in the new year, and for Muslims Ramadan is the holiest point in the year, a time to purify and strengthen connection to God. Hindus mark the coming of winter with Nar- vatri, or “the nine nights of the goddess.”
Just as people of these faiths step out of their lives to pray and honor the larger cycles of life, we too intuitively respond to this season’s changes by spending more time at home with our families and immersed in projects and study. This contracting quality draws us not only into our homes but also deeper into our inner, emotional worlds — a big difference from the playful, carefree exuberance of summer. Now’s the time to reap the benefits from the past six months and appreciate all the ways you’ve grown and flowered. It’s time to start spending more time alone to see how those outward expansions translate to your inner spiritual and creative life. What’s essential? What will you take with you into the dreamtime of the winter, and what will you leave behind?
- Excerpt from The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life by Sara Avant Stover
About the Author
Sara Avant Stover is a bestselling author and teacher of feminine spirituality. After a cancer scare in her early twenties, Sara moved to Thailand, embarked on a decade-long healing and spiritual odyssey throughout Asia, and has since gone on to uplift tens of thousands of women worldwide. The founder of the world’s first Women’s Yoga Teacher Training, Sara has also been featured in Yoga Journal, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, Natural Health, and on ABC, NBC, and CBS. She lives in Boulder, Colorado. Visit her online at SaraAvantStover.com