The Feeling of Autumn is in the air. The chilly bite of the wind and the waning of the full intensity of sunlight is upon us. Each year, I feel the bittersweet melancholy of autumn. The rich intensity of summer gives way to the cooling and calming of the waning cycle that carries us into the wintertime of rest and renewal. The break in full intensity of the sun often comes as a sweet relief, still vibrant with warmth and rich auburn tones, as if the sun itself is a peach that is ripening from pale yellow to an opulent orange. The sun rays enter at a new slant, highlighting the movement through branches and leaves that are glowing orange, yellow and red with their last burst of expression. If you can pause in these moments of glowing richness to observe the light and the trees, you may feel the poignant beauty and abundant fullness of this time as the earth, pregnant with her riches, waits to give birth and empty herself again. There is a quiet and peace in this expectant moment of surrender.
Autumn is a time of harvest. Not just the harvest of the food that has been cultivating in the garden and the fruit trees that have grown ripe, but it is a time to harvest the nuggets of wisdom from the solar transformative process of the summer. Summer can bring a buoyant playfulness that can help us lift up and out of routine and gain a new perspective. Summer is still close enough to savor. It is not yet the time of darkening, the leaves in fact grow brighter with a richness and fullness of the season, it is a sweet time of reaping the rewards of the busy seasons.
This is the stage of earth’s cycle around the sun where the fruitful times of growth and abundance come to their full expression. In that fullness also lives the knowledge that its cycle is coming around to completion and about to give way to the dormant time. The leaves, after one last eruption of colorful expression, retract their connection and fall away. In the heart of the golden rays that descend through the explosion of color, that chilling bite in the air always reminds me of the bitterness of letting go and saying goodbye. It is so hard to surrender that which we love, family, friends, lovers, the sweet and beautiful things we have shared. In the end, we must say goodbye to all that has passed in our lives – the good and the ugly. Even daily, even moment by moment, all things are dying away and changing form – even if we may perceive it as constant and solid. Change is our only constant and anything we seek to hold, sooner or later, will slip right through our fingers and pass away.
This is a time of transition – a ‘sandhi’, or ‘joint’, or space between two things. This is a time when vata (air and ether) rises because it is change. It is a time of wind and drying out the juice of spring and summer and therefore a time of vulnerability. The change of season – the sandhi time – is when colds and flus are more likely and a time the body must make an adjustment to align with a new cycle.
Allow your body some space for simplicity. Rest, reflection and simple foods will assist the body with this transition. This is a good time to eat soups, root vegetables, whole grains and all with plenty of good oils. Your agni (digestive fire) or appetite may be less as it transitions. Honor times of intermittent fasting, or a monodiet of soup or kitchari, if there is no hunger. Drink hot herbal teas. As it grows colder, appetite will become even stronger, and honor the need to eat when hunger is strong.
This is a precious time to stop for a moment in the throws of life and listen. Spiral into the heart of emptiness this season can bring forth. This can take the form of a light fast, simple eating, meditation, silent walks alone in the trees and/or allowing space for grief and letting go. Dive into the richness of the moment that brings such joy in its impermanence, for within the center of this joy is a nugget of sorrow. Just as in spring, the blooming of flowers herald the lesson of impermanence, their fleeting beauty so much more precious because it will fade and the petals will shrivel and fall. Autumn is also teaching us the lessons of impermanence. It shows us that in the fullest expression of joy and color in our lives, in the fullest moment of connection, the richest time of harvesting rewards, there is the deep truth in the center that it cannot be held, it cannot be grasped. Life is fleeting and for that reason, so precious.