3 Ways To Stay Balanced During Seasonal Changes

Psychiatrist & New York Times bestselling author By Judith Orloff, M.D.
Psychiatrist & New York Times bestselling author
Judith Orloff, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice and a psychiatric clinical faculty member at the University of California at Los Angeles. She is a New York Times bestselling author of numerous books and teaches workshops nationwide.

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Autumn is a time to harvest the fruits of your work and your life. It's a period of transformation and letting go symbolized by the earth element, a stabilizing force during this season's dramatic shifts. 

Autumn offers a special gift from the trees: the splendor of transforming foliage. A light show of blazing red, orange, and golden leaves enchants many locations. In the spirit of the leaves, celebrate the progress you have made this year. 

Autumn is also a teacher of change. School and work resume, and soon the year begins to wind down. Following the harvest, the growing season ends, and we enter a period of decline. The equinox—when day and night are of equal length—is a perfect time to meditate on balance. As days become colder and darker, leaves stop making chlorophyll, their green color, which triggers them to age and decay. 

Many people—and, in particular, empaths (highly sensitive people that can feel other people's emotions, energy, and physical symptoms in their bodies)—can be uncomfortable with aging and the unknown. We feel safe with what's predictable. A part of us may resist change because we fear it. But that's not nature's way. Self-care helps us accept our inner shifts and growth. 

Autumn invites you to reflect on your priorities. It's an opportunity for metamorphosis, a chance to liberate yourself from outdated beliefs, resentments, or relationships. Ask yourself, "What are my burdens? How can I release them?" Autumn offers a deeper experience of your own transformation and spirituality.

Here are three strategies that will help you re-center and stay balanced when you are overwhelmed or emotionally triggered during seasonal transitions:

1. Stay conscious.

A danger of denial and unconsciousness is that you will ignore your intuition and lose the benefits of an accurate inner guidance system. But when you stay awake and aware, you can experience the many passions of life. You're not too busy to marvel at the tiny flowers on your path or too tired to enjoy the gifts of nature, spirituality, and play. 

A regular meditation practice helps you remain conscious. It trains you to drop deep within yourself to connect with your essence and, even more, to the essence of life. When you practice conscious breathing, you are exhaling stress and emotional sludge from your body. 

How can you stay more conscious? Gently and slowly inhale and exhale with mindfulness. Sip your water slowly and feel the miracle of its life-sustaining properties. Listen to your inner voice. Slow down time to see—really see—the beauty that is all around you. Then you can benefit from the ecstatic loving energies of life with a crystal-clear and compassionate vision.

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Set your intention:

  • I will stay awake and consciously aware of 
  • myself, my relationships, and the greater 
  • world. If I slip into unconsciousness or denial, 
  • I will catch it quickly and reemerge.

2. Practice tolerance. 

Tolerance is the philosophy of "live and let live." It makes you curious about different opinions, cultures, spiritual beliefs, or lifestyles. Tolerance gives others room to be who they are. It means holding space for diversity without creating an us-versus-them mentality. Also, practicing acceptance for our own and others' human failings is crucial when learning compassion

Cultivate tolerance on an energetic level too. For example, don't send bad vibes to the guy who is talking loudly in the gym or the teenager who is tailgating you. This doesn't mean you're condoning their behavior, but you won't waste your energy resenting what you can't control. Instead, experiment with being more tolerant and less quick to condemn others (except, of course, if it's a matter of abuse). Everyone is dealing with some hardship that may be invisible to you. In India, the greeting namaste means, "the soul in me sees the soul in you." You don't have to agree with or even like someone, but you can show them respect.

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Set your intention:

  • I will be more tolerant of people and view them 
  • through the lens of my heart. Most people are
  • doing the best they can with their challenges.

3. Soften resistance.

Throughout the day, be mindful of when you are flowing with life and when you are resisting it. Flowing feels energizing, fun, joyful, even effortless. Resistance feels tense, tight, and stressful, as if you are pushing a giant boulder up a steep hill.

When you encounter inner or outer resistance, pause to evaluate. Perhaps you've reached a stopping point on a project, yet you're still trying to force it to proceed. Or you're convincing yourself to go on a date with someone to whom you're really not drawn, though your friends are all crazy about this person. Or you've had a disagreement with a colleague: You keep making a point, but they resist it, and you get nowhere.

Compassionately evaluate resistance in yourself or others. Consider the wisdom it imparts. To find its greater meaning, practice softening around it instead of becoming rigid. Then notice any new, intuitive insights about your resistance such as the timing isn't right for a circumstance to manifest.

Physical movement also lessens resistance. Journal about ways you can exercise, including stretching, breathing, yoga, meditating, or walking by water—then go do it. If a relationship feels stuck, giving it some space can help dissolve blocks and conflicts when communication resumes again. Softening resistance will bring clarity and prevent you from trying to remove obstacles in frantic, unwise ways.

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Set your intention:

  • I will keep breathing, releasing my rigidity 
  • and stubbornness, and be gentle with myself 
  • when I am experiencing resistance.
Excerpted from Thriving as an Empath: A Daily Guide To Empower Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, M.D. Copyright © Judith Orloff. Published in October 2019 by Sounds True. 

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