5 Autumn Meditations to Lighten Up Your Mood
Bringing Sunshine to Autumn Days: 5 Seasonal Yoga Meditations for Mood Enhancement - By Jilly Shipway
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As autumn turns to winter, do you feel a grey cloud hanging over you and a sense of dread at the onset of the shorter, darker, cooler days? If so, help is at hand to fight off those winter blues and avoid descending into the winter slump. In this article I’ll outline 5 Seasonal Yoga inspired meditations and mindfulness practices that will lighten up your mood and bring sunshine into the darkest of winter days.
- Invite the Sun to Power Your Yoga Practice. Introducing images of the sun into a yoga session is uplifting, empowering and expands your sense of what is possible. At the start of your yoga practice, spend some time either lying or sitting and picture the sun in the sky. Feel the warmth of the sun. Next, imagine the sun within your own body, at the solar plexus, radiating warmth and healing light all around your body. Then, as you do your yoga practice, keep bringing your awareness back to this part of the body and visualize a sun radiating warmth and light there.
- Mindfully Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs. Although the autumn-winter season is not a good time for action, however, it’s a great time for incubating plans for next growing season. You can either mindfully plant the bulbs outside in the soil, or inside in a pot. As you place your bulb in the soil, imagine all the wonderful things that you wish to grow more of in your life, such as love, courage, and self-compassion. Or picture a project that you’ll be incubating over winter and imagine it sending up green shoots and blossoming next spring. Remember, that you, like the bulb in the soil, can use this autumn-winter period to put down strong roots; to find rest and renewal; and to incubate ideas which will come to fruition next spring and summer.
- Smiling Meditation is a fun way to send ripples of joy throughout your body and mind. Picture someone or something that makes you smile. Perhaps it is one of your kids, a grandchild, a pet, your best friend, or a beautiful landscape. Allow your lips to relax into a smile; notice how a smile relaxes so many of the facial muscles. Imagine that the smile is spreading through your body: your eyes are smiling; the back of your throat is smiling; the smile expands across your chest; your belly is smiling. If any part of your body needs soothing, imagine that part of your body is relaxing into a smile. Each time you breathe out, feel yourself relaxing into a half smile. A half smile is that gentle smile that you see on the face of the Buddha. So, take a breath in, and on each exhale, smile.
- Walking Meditation helps to shake off winter lethargy and boosts energy. In its simplest form it is simply a case of walking and being aware that you are walking. The Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, poetically suggests that we should walk as if our feet are kissing the earth. You can walk inside or outside. As you walk be aware of the contact that your feet are making with the earth with each step. Walk naturally, slowing your walking down to a mindful pace. Be aware of yourself as a person who is walking, breathing, and smiling.
- Take Time to Connect with the Cosmos. Scientific researchers have discovered that engendering states of awe promotes good health and a sense of wellbeing. Whether you live in the city or the country the sky is always there for you, and it provides the perfect way to connect with the cosmos. Whether it’s day or night, being mindful of the sky is a great thing to do. Looking up at the sky at any time creates a sense of spaciousness and freedom, which is an antidote to that winter sense of shrinking back into ourselves. It helps us to get things into perspective and our problems shrink back down to size. Gazing mindfully at the sky allows us to connect with a universe that is constantly changing. In the day you’ll see clouds passing by, and at night you’ll be treated to a changing star-scape. It also engenders a sense of union and oneness with the world around you, and that’s what yoga is all about.
I hope these 5 Seasonal Yoga inspired meditations and mindfulness practices have demonstrated that winter plus gloom don’t inevitably have to go together. You’ll find more Seasonal Yoga resources on my online teaching platform:
Let’s empower our yoga practice with a solar energy that can dissolve those grey, winter clouds and allow the sun to shine through!