New York City isn't usually associated with warm fall weather, but this year the sunshine stuck around a bit longer than usual. Some of us (me!) enjoyed it, and others waited patiently for real autumn temperatures. They're finally starting to drop down, so I'd thought I'd share my favorite blog posts from over the years to help us all get adjusted to fall, no matter how late it showed up!
I can't believe it's already time to say goodbye to summer! In two days, we will experience this year's Autumnal Equinox and feel the shift from long, warm summer days to shorter, crisper fall days before we head into winter. Many of our friends have shared incredible ways to adjust to the new season and welcome the equinox. Be sure to check those posts out! We've also pulled together a few tips for this year to make autumn your best season yet!
What is the Autumnal Equinox?
Let's cover the important bases, first. Just what is the equinox, and why is it so important? The September equinox, also referred to as the Autumnal Equinox, marks the point in the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator, a sort of extension of the earth's equator that "sits" above the planet, from north to south. So essentially, the sun is crossing the earth's equator.
The term "equinox" comes from Latin roots "aequus" and "nox", meaning "equal night," which corresponds to the belief that, on an equinox, night and day are equal length. As it turns out, daylight still typically lasts longer than night. The center of the sun sets 12 hours after rising on this day, but each half of the sun still has to travel through the sky, so day and night times will vary. In fact, the equinox is not an all-day event, but the specific moment when the center of the sun reaches this point. This year, in Eastern time, that will happen at 4:02 pm on September 22.
For everyday purposes, the equinox most notably represents the change from summer to autumn. As some of our holistic experts have noted, this is the time to move from yang energy, high activity and cool foods to more inward, yin energy, self-care and a warming, nourishing diet. And, based on the feng shui bagua map and five elements, autumn is a season of Metal.
Autumn and the Metal Element
In feng shui and the five elements theory, the autumn season corresponds to the Metal element and the Completion area of the bagua, which relates to the color white, the number seven and the element of joy. Metal is also associated with clarity, which is one of my focus words for this year!
If you're looking to update your space for the new season, you might think you should add more Metal. But in fact, for the most part, because this season carries more of this element, there can be an overabundance of Metal. Metal relates to metallic colors (think gold, silver) and the colors white and grey, as well as to joy and the mouth, and governs order and beauty. It's associated with efficiency and organization, circular shapes and a general turning inward. So what does an overabundance of Metal mean? Metal out of balance can be rigid and inflexible, stuck on having everything perfect. Since Metal is related to the mouth and speech, individuals with an excess of this element often speak without precision and boundaries. If this describes you in fall, you may have too much Metal!
Some ways to adjust a Metal imbalance: add Water, which drains Metal, or Wood, which dulls and softens the Metal element. For more Water, try enjoying walks along the water, bringing wavy patterns into your space or incorporating the sound of water into your home, like with music or a fountain. If you'd rather add Wood, add blue and green tones or plants to your space! Check out our My Favorite Things series for more insight on adding Water and Wood.
Get Clarity with Metal
Autumn is also the time for harvest, both in agriculture and metaphorically in life. The planting season is ending, so maybe it's good to look at this in terms of your life and space. What no longer serves you in your home? It could be as literal as summer clothes you haven't worn in three years or letting go of old food in the fridge and composting it. Think about things or people in your life that are no longer serving you, as well. Metal element can also be like a sharp sword, cutting through what's unnecessary. It's time to harvest what's come to fruition, look at why some things didn't grow and think about planning for the next year.
Take some time as we transition to fall and consider how your "harvest" has turned out. And what do kind of energies do we want invite the next time around?
Welcome to My Favorite Things! Each month, we highlight products to help you create a holistic lifestyle that inspires and nurtures you, so that you can be happier and feel supported.
Next week is already fall! I can't believe it! We've had a long, warm summer, but the weather is beginning to get cooler and crisper, and soon we'll be switching walks in the park for snuggling up indoors. That's why this month's My Favorite Things is all about getting cozy! We put some thought into the necessities for a staying warm in the fall air, and here's what we came up with.
Sun Yantra Mandala for Radiance & Warmth
I love mandalas as a way to add a certain energy or intention to a room. This Sun yantra mandala is perfect for warming up your space as the weather cools off!
The Sun is associated with individuality, radiance and yang energy. It depicts yellows and oranges and radiating lotus petals, and looks similar to the sun itself! As it represents warmth and radiance, this mandala is perfect for seasons when we see less sun.
Available at: Holistic Spaces
Wool Angled Front Wrap Cardigan
I love Eileen Fisher clothing. I probably wear at least one piece from her designs every day! They're so minimal, easy to match, high quality and incredibly eco-friendly. Eileen Fisher supports sustainable sourcing, fair trade, domestic production and much more!
This front wrap cardigan is no different. The sweater is made of Eileen Fisher signature washable, chlorine-free wool, which means it doesn't contain as many harmful chemicals, and you don't have to take it to the dry cleaners every time you spill tea!
Its versatility also means it's perfect for wearing out or cuddling up inside with a good book. It's a must-have for cooler weather!
Available at: Eileen Fisher
Indian Cardamom Chai Tea
I am a huge fan of tea, and these days I cannot stop drinking Kalustyan's Indian Cardamom Chai! It's a blend of Darjeeling and Assam teas with cardamom flavor, milk and sugar to make it the perfect tea for a chilly afternoon.
I also like to add turmeric to my tea. Both turmeric and cardamom are powerful herbs used for years to aid in digestion, fight depression, build anti-oxidants and so much more. Plus, as members of the ginger family, they offer a warming sensation!
Since many of us get busier during the last part of the year, the Kalustyan's chai mix is instant, which means you just add hot water and enjoy!
Available at: Kalustyan's
Most rugs can help to reduce the cool temperature beneath your feet, especially here in NYC where everything is wood flooring, but wool rugs are especially warm!
This wool rug is suitable for any room, organic, non-dyed and allows for customization of shape, size and more. It's also ethically sourced and hand-woven, and it improves indoor air quality!
Available at: Organic Looms
Sandalwood Essential Oil
My good friend, Andrea Giordano, of Aromatherachi, specializes in using essential oils to make amazing products like soap and bath salts, but she also sells the oil itself! Her sandalwood oil is sustainable and eco-friendly, sourced in Hawaii! Can you think of a warmer place?!
Available at: Aromatherachi
After a long, hot summer, it's finally time to welcome a new season! It's always important to take care of ourselves, both inside and out, when changing from one season to another, and this year, our friend Sacha Jones, from Stiggly Holistics, has volunteered her insight! It's been a while since we spoke with Sacha, and we're happy to welcome her back to talk bringing in Autumn in a healthy, holistic way.
AC: Tell us a little bit about Stiggly Holistics and what you're up to these days.
SJ: Stiggly Holistics will be celebrating her 10th birthday soon, and we are looking to do some celebrating and relaunching between the fall and the spring. This will include introducing some new classes, starting some new women's groups, opening up my pottery studio and expanding that part of the business, and playing around with new packaging ideas for my product line... much good stuff on the horizon! I can't reveal it all now but just to say - between this coming October and the spring of '17, Stiggly Holistics will be seeing a little bit of a facelift, which feels really fun and exciting.
The heart, essence and roots will of course remain true to where we began - "nourish your body, nourish your soul" will always remain our motto. We believe in caring for the whole person - not just the food we put on our plates, but also the quality of our soul food, our home environment, how we care for the planet and so much more. It's all under the same holistic umbrella, and that's a very important part of the Stiggly mission. I'm hoping to have a little celebratory relaunch/anniversary party at some point, I will keep you posted.
Yes, please do! How does the autumnal equinox affect us, internally and externally?
I always love the autumnal and vernal equinox, because to me it's all about balance. Winter is extremely inward, summer very outward whereas spring and fall are a lovely mixture of the two. I love how the shadows change somewhere around the autumnal equinox, and with that there is an energy shift that is almost palpable. With the daylight and darkness being about the same, we tend towards a little more indoor time, perhaps getting to bed a little earlier, slowing down just a little bit, and we tend to get a little more grounded and centered.
What are some steps we can take to ease into Autumn in a healthy way?
My first suggestion is to get yourself to your local farmer's market and see what's in season. Let that guide your meal planning. Eating seasonally is more than a trend; it's really good for our body and soul. Nature provides what we need, just at exactly the right time. You will start to see more root veggies, and energetically these foods help to ground us. In this same vein I also recommend exploring herbal infusions and decoctions - and nourishing your body with "teas" like elderberry, ginger, oatstra, and other favorite herbs. Have fun experimenting with flavors you like, get really into the ritual of it all and sip, smile, breathe.
Secondly, I suggest really considering the beginning of Autumn as an opportunity to take a deep breath, release your shoulders and honor the moment as a new beginning. Whether or not you have children in school, or are yourself in academia, or if all that is long ago in your memory, there is a "back to school" vibe that's ingrained within us. Let's use that to let go of some non-serving stuff and embrace some new ideas. How balanced is your life? Do you have enough boundaries? Are you always saying yes to others? How is the balance between your work and play time? See where you can cut back in your work obligations a little - and by so doing, increase your time, energy and motivation for play and true relaxation.
Also, in keeping with the theme of balance, I really recommend getting into a daily practice of balancing on one leg. Aim for at least 30 seconds per leg, at least once a day. You can do it while you wait for the kettle to boil, while you brush your teeth, while you wait for a subway, or really anytime...to make this harder, more fun and more beneficial, I also recommend you try and do this with your eyes closed. Time yourself. How long can you balance that way? If it feels impossible, keep at it - like anything it gets easier with practice.
What's the best part of the new season, in your opinion?
A new season marks another chance for us to go inward and hit that proverbial "reset button" on ourselves. It's a chance to look within and see what's working, what's not, and a good time to re-evaluate our goals - personal & professional. I also love seasonal clothing, and Autumn is maybe my favorite, since I love jackets and home-made knitwear. It's the time to blow the cobwebs off the knitting needles and, in general, just start being creative.
Truly it's hard to put into words just how intoxicating Autumn is, but I really love the collective hum, which feels like excitement. It's almost like culturally we become squirrel-like, all rushing around, gathering "acorns," preparing for the colder months ahead while the delicious scents of pumpkin spices and hot cider fill the air. It's all about the ritual, the familiar and the comfort in that.
How can we use the concepts of Stiggly Holistics to create holistic spaces?
When I think of holistic spaces, I think of creating home-space that feels safe and cozy - somewhere you want to spend time.
When I consider nourishment and self care, it goes so much deeper than what we eat, as I've mentioned. And a very big component of that is home environment. I always want to know from my clients what home feels like. Does it feel safe, comfortable? Would you be comfortable inviting people over, even if your space is tiny? Do you make your bed every morning? Are the sheets and pillows comfortable? What is your lighting like? Do you have somewhere to sit and just be quiet - whether that's to read, meditate or just relax after a busy day at work? Are the things in your home relevant? Do you still love the art on the walls, the books on the shelves? Do you look around your abode and smile? Have a sense of pride?
You can start small when creating a holistic home environment - you don't have to spend a lot of money, but get a few things in place. Clean out your fridge and fill it with healthful, life-giving foods and try to avoid a build up of leftovers. Use green cleaning products (make them yourselves), and avoid chemicals in your home (this includes laundry detergent so you can sleep better on eco-cleansed sheets). Every season, go through your "stuff" and have a little clean out. I'm a fan of natural, "organic" materials and found objects (as well as antiques, thrift, stoop sales...), and believe holistic home spaces should be as void of plastic as possible.
Our "stuff" contributes to the energy of a home, and what we lay our eyes on contributes to the way we feel, so let's make our home spaces as beautiful and comfortable as possible - in a way that works for ourselves. Your home may not be featured in Dwell magazine, but do you love it? Do you feel truly at home there? That's what really matters. Home is truly is where the heart is, and I think keeping that concept at the core when you declutter, design and get cozy will help guide you to really loving where you live.
As always, such wonderful advice from Sacha on remaining true to yourself and taking care of you! What can you do in the coming months to treat yourself with loving care as we transition from warm, yang weather to the colder, yin season? Be sure to try out Sacha's recipe for cleansing fire water too!
Sacha Jones is the founder of Stiggly Holistics. he hails originally from Wales but is a long time New Yorker and spends her time between the East Village, and Sullivan County upstate. Stiggly Holistics specializes in holistic wellness - we want to get to know the WHOLE you and get you on the path to feeling your very best self. We run group classes, women's groups & offer individual counseling - as well offering a line of organic body balms and herb teas, and returning soon to the line - hand made ceramics. You can learn more by visiting our website, www.stiggly.com and you can sign up for our Juicy Tuesday Newsie musings for weekly motivation right here.