The Ashvin Navaratri has commenced! The ancestors have been saluted and hopefully placated, and now it is time to awaken the Shakti within us as we in the Northern Hemisphere prepare for the ‘death’ of the year. Heading into winter the entire environment is contracting, with all living beings gathering their vitality inside themselves, keeping it safe there until with the coming of spring when that vitality can again be projected outward as new growth. (In the Southern Hemisphere, of course, things are moving in the opposite direction.)
Rtusandhishu vyadhayoh jayante: diseases arise at the junctions of the seasons. In India the monsoon is retreating and the cool season beginning; in the temperate zone summer is shifting into autumn. These external shifts induce similar shifts within us, and if we are not properly prepared our bodies will not be able to adequately adapt, which can lead to internal disharmony. One of the ways that we prepare our bodies for seasonal junctures is via our daily routines, or dinacharya.
The immediate value that a daily routine provides is the purification and calming of body and mind so that they can be nourished. In addition, when we purify and nourish ourselves suitably, daily, we encourage our prana to align well with the flow of prana in our environment. This promotes health day by day and provides a quality of continuity in our lives that makes it easier for us to adapt when one season dissipates as the next toils to be born.
If time does not permit you to meditate and exercise first thing in the morning, then schedule those activities for later in the day and at least make it a point to commence your morning with sense organ purification and regulation of prana. A good way to begin is to focus on your breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly, calmly, deeply and regularly as you mentally prepare yourself for everything that you will do before you next lie down to sleep. If you can generate a sense of calm before you do anything else, there is a greater chance that that calm will last you throughout the day, which will benefit you measurably.
In addition to the activities that Ayurveda prescribes for sense organ purification (the use of drops or collyrium in the eyes, drops of oil in the nose and ears, cleansing of the mouth, tongue and teeth, and simple oil massage of the skin), Navaratri is a fine time to enlist the Mother Goddess in this endeavor. As you exhale during your early morning breathing, expel all imperfections, mental disturbances, unhealthy proclivities, undigested experiences and all other forms of ‘dark energy’ with your out-breath, and with you in-breath welcome light, vitality, affection and enthusiasm into your every cell. Offer all your imperfections to the Universal Mother, and accept from Her in return Her vital, loving, maternal energy.