In the Midwest, where I grew up, the leaves turn colors in dramatic ways during the fall. I’ve left foreign travels to come back just in time to see the leaves change, to smell the spicy, sweet scents, and nest into big sweaters and good books underneath the beauty of it.
As a young child, the season marked a new school year and the time when my grandparents came to town. I can still remember them dancing through the kitchen, listening to Frank Sinatra as dawn set in and the smell of apple pie filled the kitchen. During the day, we would rake leaves together, building huge piles for us kids to jump in. I remember swimming back up to the top of the mound, laughing hysterically. I remember haunted hayrides, apple cider, and wood fires.
I find my life revolving around this time when I reconnect with my family and feel most alive.
To a T, harvest is the time when we gather crops. On a grander scale, autumn is the backbone of our nation, the reason we could settle on the land and survive. With a great shift in thinking toward more sustainable practices, the implications of this season are more important now than ever. What we chose to source from during this time will energize us through the cold winters.
There are a few practices I like to give special attention to during this period in order to absorb and celebrate as much as I can. Here are a few of those rituals in conjunction with the mind, body, and soul:
Fall is a time to reflect. From the high-energy months of summer, we begin to slow down and transition. When I remember fall, I see myself in a hammock with way too many books and a journal. One of my favorite practices to transition mindfully is journaling. But, journaling, like the effects of caffeine, is different for everyone.
What ends up on paper can range from lists of to-do’s to a tumultuous attempt at understanding one’s self. That is okay. But, I would advise losing all assumptions of journaling and begin with one idea in mind, “No one will read or judge what is put on this paper.” And see where that gets you. I would suggest doing so in a hammock at golden hour.
When we write down our thoughts in a fluid manner, without inhibitions or expectations, we can reflect and sparse out what we desire. I’ve found I’m able to more accurately adjust my path when I read the nonsense of my thoughts. There’s a central channel in there somewhere, if you create the time to notice.
Since fall is a dry season, our diet needs to adjust. According to Ayurvedic medicine, this season demands warm, well cooked meals. When the earth is dry and airy, we as humans need to be moisturized and grounded. Think: ginger carrot soup, chai tea, or butternut squash curry.
You’ll find some of the most incredible farmers markets during the fall season. With accessibility to produce throughout the year, it’s easy to lose touch with why it matters to source locally or indulge seasonally. But, from my experience, the flavor is what marks the strong distinction. Eating a mealy apple in March makes you ache for the juicy honey crisp promised in October and November.
Try applying a salve or cream each night and morning to keep your skin healthy. Remember that this is a time for transition and reflection, so self-care practices and exercises that are more passive and less cardiovascular are more natural during this time.
According to Ayurvedic beliefs, Autumn holds the ethereal and airy qualities, as paired with the vata dosha. On a soul level, this means fall is the most opportunistic time to create. If you consider the times you’ve felt most in the zone, creatively speaking, you know there’s the chance for loftiness. For instance, someone tries to talk to you and your mind is wandering toward the next aspect of your project. While this is the benefit of the season, if exacerbated, a wandering mind makes it more difficult to interact with the natural world and the relationships around us.
During the most beautiful season of the year, wouldn’t that be a shame?
I use mantras of gratitude for five to fifteen minutes to nurture and root down. “I’m grateful for this this time of quiet,” “I’m grateful for my capable body,” “I’m grateful for my loved ones.” I truly believe that when we stop to think of examples that warrant gratitude, we’re unable to wallow in whatever may be holding us back. In doing so, we’re also reminded of the world around us, and the people that make our lives joyful.
To me, fall is an art-piece. The natural world imposes it’s beauty on us and for those with open eyes, it inspires you.
Now, go get yourself that apple cider donut!