The fall equinox and a new moon in Libra invite us to find harmony and balance by letting go of thoughts that no longer bring peace and joy.

Happy fall equinox for those of us in the northern hemisphere (happy glorious spring equinox for our southern companions). For one day (Sept 22), the earth was in perfect balance on its 23.5º axis with the sun pointed directly at the equator. Everyone around the globe had 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness. Balance. Global synchrony. Did you notice?

What does balance even feel like? For me, it’s not an outcome to achieve (how would I know when I’ve found it?) but an ongoing process of seeking equilibrium and equanimity. I am balanced when I feel grounded in the moment, centered and focused on what I am doing, and confident and calm in how I am feeling. Others might find balance in symmetry, an equal distribution of having the right amount of something, such as work and play, mental and physical activity, retreating inward or socializing with others. Physical balance is measurable as stability and equal weight distribution. Mental and emotional balance is more subjective and is defined by what’s important to you.

When I’m not balanced, I’m easily distracted, scattered, unsettled, unfulfilled, seeking something but not sure what. It’s a signal for me to step back and reflect, to find out what’s bothering me instead of distracting myself to avoid the feelings. Emotions may hide from our awareness, but they set up camp in our bodies and resurface as pain or tension or imbalance.

To find balance, I either need to face and work through the emotions of a loss or disappointment or I need to let go of something. I ask myself:

  • Am I trying to do too much?
  • Am I doing what’s important or meaningful to me?
  • Do I want something that’s out of my control?
  • Am I clinging to an outdated idea or expectation?

My own expectations often get in my way. It’s a lesson I’m learning and relearning as circumstances change. When I feel overwhelmed, am out of sync with my values, or when I’m wishing for or expecting something no longer in my control, I work on letting go.

On Letting Go

 Holding on to attachments, ideas, mindsets, judgments, relationships, or even physical objects that no longer serve us keeps us stuck. But how do we let go? Healthline has some tips that include breathing and centering yourself in the moment (instead of ruminating over the past or anticipating the future); accepting, sitting with, and working through emotions; surrounding yourself with positive messages and people, and owning up to how your mind holds on to outdated beliefs.

I like to practice Pema Chodron’s easy-to-use image of a car driving by in front of my house. It doesn’t stop, but I observe it, watch it, then let it slip from my awareness as it goes out of sight. That car might be a belief or an expected outcome that isn’t helpful to me anymore. It was (and some days still is) the neighborhood feral kitty cats that I had to release this past month and let go of my role in caring for and rescuing them. The last one literally got picked up from the Humane Society (in a car) and dropped off at another distant location by mistake, instead of back here to her neighborhood territory. I miss her, but I have to let go of the attachment to her. It may seem trite but caring for and about animals is a value I hold and one which brings me joy. We all need to find little joys in life and the cats (and litter of 6 new kitties) were mine for the summer. And now it’s time to move on. There’s plenty of traffic on the parkway in front of my house and in my mind!

This summer has been all about letting go—the opposite of what I expected as June approached. Instead of a summer of fun seeing family and friends and getting out walking again, I was miserably sick for eight weeks with viruses (probably more than one, and even though I tested negative for Covid over and over, I’m not convinced it wasn’t a culprit). I’m on the way to recovery and I’ve let go of knowing if it was Covid (checking antibody titers in me would not differentiate infection from the Evusheld monoclonal antibodies I got in May to protect me).

Illness and a summer-long writing class overwhelmed me, so I let go of my monthly blog post in August. Did you notice? Probably not. It wasn’t easy for me—it was the first time in three years that I skipped a month. I now consider it as practice for re-evaluating what’s most important and what’s realistic given my changing health.

I expected to have surgery this fall for my increasing back pain. I thought the decision was mine to make. I was finally desperate enough to consider it after 1.5 years of not being able to stand to cook dinner or talk to someone or walk farther than a few blocks. It took three surgical consults for me to realize and accept that surgery is too risky given all my other underlying conditions and that it might not help the debilitating pain from the nerve damage caused by the last spinal surgery. I’m still integrating this reality into my awareness and seeking other options in the hopes of regaining back some function. I especially miss my daily meditative outdoor walks. Acceptance is an ongoing effort to balance desires with reality, expectations with limitations. Circumstances change and letting go can be a process.

We are always letting go of something. Eric lost his dad this week; as so many of you know, grief is the ultimate process of letting go. Of course, we never really “let go” of parental attachment. Still, we can and do—over time—let go of the expectation that they are there for us, and instead hold on to the memories and remembrances and perhaps spiritual connections that serve us and comfort us. Another friend is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy for cancer and has had to let go of her identity (among other things) as healthy and well and active, at least for this year. Other friends are releasing attachments to “the old way of life”, including travel and cruises. What have you let go of this summer, this week, today? Was it by choice? How does it feel?

Birth of new life in hands during new moon

Shutterstock image by Sergey Nivens

New Moon, New Beginnings

 A new moon this weekend (Sunday, Sept 25) will darken the night-time skies as the sun and moon align in Libra. New moons are about new beginnings. A new moon in Libra is about harmony and balance, especially in relationships, friendships, and partnerships—and with the self. If you are feeling unbalanced by overthinking, indecisiveness, and overwhelm (like me), it’s time to step back, reflect, and re-evaluate what’s important to you and to set goals for letting go and moving forward. Are your inner visions (moon energy) in sync with who you think you are or the identity you are putting out into the world (sun energy)? If not, what needs changing/balancing in your life?

The fall equinox and a new moon offer the opportunity to go inward, not necessarily to hibernate (just yet!) but to reflect on the changing seasons in your outer and inner world. It’s a time to both (and maybe equally) honor the darkness and usher in the light in a fleeting moment of balance.

May you find peace and joy,

~ Janice