The crisp mornings and chilly evenings have me inventorying my supply of rugged socks and faithful sweaters. It’s not quite time to rummage for the boots and mittens, but that will come shockingly soon. Right now it is enough to add warm layers, an extra blanket on the bed, and to surrender to the awe that is a New England autumn.
Being a native Floridian, I have often felt the magnificence of brazen hardwoods and October sunsets, was more than my heart could bear. Not only too beautiful, but a poignant farewell to summer and a bracing acceptance of the months ahead. That said, I would never trade this astonishing display of nature’s pallet for continual warmth and southern comforts.
Even with the cozy, cloistered environs of Bartlett Woods we will feel the season shift. Maneuverability out-of-door will soon become more challenging. The briefer the hours of sunlight will have more difficulty penetrating our homes and our bones. In our psyches and our postures will be protecting ourselves, curling inward like a leaf.
It is a good time to remind ourselves to stand tall and to remain open. It is a good time to create our winter reading list, acquire music that moves us, and to stay connected to friends and family. It is also imperative that we keep our bodies loose and limber, our chest and lungs open and expansive. It is in this inbetween time, this change of seasons, that our immune systems are most vulnerable to disease.
The beloved Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, once said that if we could take five deep breathes a day we could change the world. I have seldom been able to get past the second breath before my chattering squirrel mind has wondered off to the next task, the next thing. It is only with serious effort that I am able to complete a circuit of five conscious breaths.
If you are able to accomplish this easily, then I invite you to go one step further. With each inhalation imagine pure rich oxygen traveling to your brain, eyes, heart, toes… A lovely breathing exercise I use to imagine ocean waves swirling in around my ankles, than surging out again. Slow breath in, pause, slow breath out, pause.
I would further suggest you try to bring moisture into the dry winter air of your surroundings. House plants, a wet towel left to dry over the shower curtain rod, a humidifier with distilled water, will all serve to moisten the air and to keep your lungs moist and pliable. Breathe in the steam and aroma of a nice cup of tea with your neighbor while sharing stories about the seasons of your lives.
Wishing you robust health, Karen Jackson RN