surviving the transition from summer to fall
The state of our physiological, biological and psychological makeup is constantly being exposed to stressful circumstances that impact our balance. Our ability to adapt to these circumstances, with non-resistance and repose, provides us with the means to easily maintain equilibrium despite the ever-changing waves of our environment. In the tradition of Ayurveda, maintaining a healthy state in the components of our constitution – including the doshas (vata, pitta, kapha), dhatus (seven bodily tissues) and malas (feces, urine, sweat) – is the essential key for the prevention of disease, rejuvenation and longevity.
According to Ayurveda, it is crucial during the rutu sandhi (the junction of change from one season to the other) to be more conscientious of our actions in order to adjust properly to the external change. As we leave the heat of the late summer and move on to the coolness of fall, daily regimes of self care become more valuable. The most important aspects to observe and maintain are achara (nutrition), vichara (yogic contemplation) and charya (conduct such as daily-dinacharya or daily routine). Adherence and attentiveness to these rituals optimizes biological adaptation and reduces the likelihood of doshic imbalance and disease.
The metamorphosis of nature’s seasons has the potential to be a magical time of transformation and attunement with the macrocosm. Taking moments of contemplation to observe, listen and synchronize to the rhythm of nature gives rise to harmony and vitality in the body, mind and spirit.
During the summer, the element of fire burns and transforms substances to manifest as products of the earth element of the late summer. The earth element, mixed with fire, invigorates our creativity and assists us in manifesting our insights and desires. Writing poetry, painting, and composing music are examples of utilizing the concentrated and penetrating energy of fire to materialize products of expression that convey to others the language of our internal inspirations. The late summer is nature’s time of fullness, richness and preparation for the abundant harvest of fall. At this time, while it is still hot outside, it is advisable to eat light foods – fresh fruit, vegetables, rose yogurt lassi, buttermilk, lime, avocado and light grains such as basmati rice. Between hot and cool seasons, we may use herbs to slightly increase our digestive fire to maintain proper function. The preparation of meals or teas with orange peel, cardamom, rosemary, fennel, cumin, coriander, anise, licorice, dandelion, chamomile and chicory is especially effective.
The stability of the earth element enables us to be grounded and centered for the fall, in which the air element is most prominent. The wind represents vata, which moves, carries forth and communicates the earth element’s product. As we transition into autumn, we are ready with the fruition of our labor. The seeds we have sown in our projects, work, relationships and spiritual practice are now ready to manifest and be harvested.
With the arrival of the cooler season and increased wind, our bodily system tends to dry and deplete. Therefore, a shift in our diet to include more nourishing, toning and building foods is advised. Soups, proteins, seeds, nuts, warmed spiced milk, steamed vegetables, and spices such as ginger, pippali, chitrak, pepper, basil, cinnamon, ashwagandha, tumeric and lemon are particularly helpful. To protect our nervous system, daily herbal oil massage is highly recommended. Meditation with emphasis on intent, as well as deep breathing, restore our center and support our vital being.
As the equinox approaches, the days become shorter and the nights become longer, giving us the space to remember that some things need more time to unfold and realize that what has made itself visible in our lives now is exactly what we need. At this transformative junction, we let go of what we do not need so we may benefit from the fulfillment of our original intent and, in turn, facilitate our next stage of growth.
This is the season of the Guru Purnima, the fullness of the teacher and the richness of the harvest moon. As we sit and watch the sun set in the crimson colored vast sky and the radiant, soma-filled moon arise, let us drink the nectar of our infinite self, be content and ever grateful for the gifts of wisdom and love we have received.