Rhythm is inherent in all of nature. The daily pulse of light and dark, of the lunar cycles month to month, season to season, of plant growth and dormancy, bounty, activity, and hibernation. Humans, in modern society, are perhaps the only beings on the planet who need the invitation or reminder to connect to the natural rhythms at play all around and within us. Through honoring the rhythms of the day, season, year, and times of life, we invite a greater capacity for living a well, thriving existence.
The Harvest Moon is a time of reflection — harvesting the last of summer’s bounty, celebrating, and gathering as a community after a season of work and productivity. It is a time to rest, to remember and acknowledge our own needs, and perhaps settle into a slower, more steady pace.
Each season has a particular energy, elemental nature, and flavor. The flavor or texture of fall is cool, light, and sometimes windy, dry, and replete with the elements and properties of air and space. Leaves fall from the trees, dry and crispy under foot, the breeze shaking them loose from their summer homes while plants go dormant and the final harvest of the year is complete. This is a season of transition, between summer and winter, that carries the qualities of change. Energies are at play in the plants, soil, air, and in our own bodies.
You might recognize a tendency towards lighter sleep, a sense of unease or anxiety, dryness, difficulty feeling grounded and settled, or restlessness. You may also begin to feel the pull towards a quieter, more hibernating energy — a need to rest and to simplify.
Every hormone in our body has a particular rhythm which oscillates with the day and the season. Our hormones manage our physiology, how we move through various stages of life, and how we adapt when faced with challenge.
The adrenal glands increase their activity in the fall, followed by a rise in thyroid activity to increase metabolism in order to maintain warmth in the winter months. This occurs no matter the climate we live in. It is signaled by the change in light and begins approximately 10 days prior to the fall equinox. The adrenals thrive on being in harmony with life and with the natural rhythms of our own being and world. If we are operating counter to these rhythms, the adrenals may be less efficient at managing our seasonal transition. This may result in illness, sleep disturbances, mood changes, and shifts in immune or inflammation regulation.
The adrenals also play a major role in human development, especially from 0-2 years old. Infants need routine, rest, easy-to-digest food, love, safety, and the opportunity to learn and observe their world. The Harvest Moon is a beautiful reminder to nourish and honor ourselves and love up the adrenals with all that cultivates safety and a sense of ease.
Our senses provide a beautiful connection to nature and fall brings a myriad of sensual delights — from the smell of freshly fallen leaves and upturned soil, to a fall rain and the richness of pumpkin spice and baked fruit.
Taking time to recognize what brings pleasure to each of the five senses, and then at different moments throughout the day, pausing to notice when the senses are delighted, will help to cultivate pleasure, safety, and a sense of connection with our world.
To nurture the adrenals and support the natural rhythm of the body in harmony with the rhythm of the season, there is an invitation to engage in activities which provide stability and routine. Eating foods that are harvested in fall balances the dry, crisp, cool, windy nature of the season. Squashes, root vegetables, cooked apples and pears, dark leafy greens, soups, stews, and curries nourish our bodies and provide a grounding, rooting energy.
Checking in with our needs and maintaining a routine is vital. Reducing the myriad of distractions in life, engaging in creative play, reducing our use of electronics, being in nature, slowing down for a dinner with family and friends, eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, and exercising daily are strengthening and stabilizing ways to get and stay in rhythm with the season.
We have the opportunity to move with the season, with nature, and with ourselves, and when we are in rhythm, only then can we live a truly thriving life.
Dr. Amy Chadwick is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor at Four Moons Spa in San Diego. Trained in the intricacies of human physiology and Endobiogenic medicine, Dr. Amy offers individualized medicine, allowing her patients to develop self-agency and self-actualization through understanding by honoring their unique expression of disease and health, cultivating the patterns that invite a thriving life.