Summer Turns to Autumn From the end of July to mid-September in the Northern Hemisphere From the end of January to Mid-March in the Southern Hemisphere
This is the time of first harvest; apples are ripening on the tree, and the corn is being brought in from the field. During the season of harvest, we take time to enjoy the cornucopian feast that nature has laid out before us. Whether we live in the city or the country we can mindfully use our five senses to appreciate the bountifulness and abundance of the season.
Although it is high summer, autumn is visible on the horizon. The sun is gradually waning and losing its power; the days are getting shorter, and each morning the sun gets up a little later and goes to bed a little earlier. The energy of the Earth is moving from: fire to water; yang to yin; outer to inner, sun to moon, and if we can flow with this change of energy, and gradually shift from outward pursuits to a more inward focus of contemplation, then it can be a wonderful way of keeping our life in balance.
Loving the Harvest and Harvesting Love
During the period of first harvest we remember to say thank you to Mother Earth, as without her there is no harvest. One way of thanking the earth is to treat her with kindness and respect by embodying the yogic principle of non-harm, or non-violence (ahimsa). We do this by considering what impact our actions are having upon the environment and aim to act in a way that does least harm. Some yogis choose to be vegetarian, others vegan, and some just cut down on meat and eat more vegetarian meals. If we all make some small changes to the way we live, then environmentally it will add up to a big difference. For example, at harvest you can reduce the air miles of food by buying delicious, fresh local produce. Or you can reduce air pollution, and improve fitness, by one day a week leaving the car at home. Your mantra: Change begins with me.
Another way to thank the Earth is to simply notice the bounty and beauty that she spreads before us at harvest. We can get so caught up in the minutiae and busyness of our lives that we forget to look around us and appreciate the beauty of the season. To counteract this tendency, when you encounter something beautiful, stop and take time to enjoy it. Instead of habitually getting your phone out to capture the image digitally, occasionally just allow yourself the space to look and absorb the image into your mind’s eye. Then when you are on your yoga mat you can recall that beautiful flower, mountain view, dappled light in a forest, a wheat field dancing in the breeze, or apples ripening on a tree, and let the image uplift you as you do your yoga. It will also help you to strengthen your connection to the world around you. Yoga is union.
Our yoga practice in summer to autumn can focus on cultivating contentment, gratitude, and happiness. Yoga Sutra 2.42 states “Perfect happiness is attained through contentment.” When we cultivate gratitude as a spiritual practice, contentment (samtosa) naturally follows, and from contentment happiness blooms. Whereas happiness can be elusive, the path of gratitude and contentment is always available to us.
Tree Wisdom Summer to Autumn
Spending time around trees is the perfect way to connect to the abundance of the season of first fruits and harvest. When you’re out walking look out for the signs of the fruitfulness of trees: acorns forming on oak trees; conkers on horse-chestnut trees; berries on the hawthorn tree; and of course, fruit on fruit trees. Mindfully observe a tree that you feel drawn to with an open-mind and curiosity. Use your five senses to enjoy and appreciate its fruitfulness.
Last August I was walking in the countryside with my husband and we were both feeling low because his elderly mum had recently died, and we had been talking about where to scatter her ashes. As we passed through a wooden gate leading from a field into the woods, I noticed a wild crab-apple tree laden with apples, its branches intertwined with an oak tree. We stood and admired the beauty of the trees for a few moments and somehow it lifted our spirits.It was this that inspired me to write my Meditation Upon a Crab-apple Tree at Harvest, which is included in the Yoga Through the Year book.
Summer to Autumn Meditation Questions
This is the season of first harvest
What is my own personal harvest?
Who has helped me to realise my harvest, and how will I thank them?
How will I celebrate my harvest and how will I share my abundance with others?
Which seeds will I be incubating over the autumn and winter ready to plant out next spring?
A full set of summer to autumn meditation questions can be found in the Yoga Through the Year book.
Yoga Through the Year Book
In the Summer to Autumn chapter of the Yoga Through the Year Book, you will also find:
A Summer to Autumn Yoga Practice
The Showing appreciation Meditation
Ideas for Trees and Creativity During Summer to Autumn
The Apple Mindfulness Meditation
Yoga philosophy and inspiration for the season...and more...
The Yoga Through the Year Book will be published July 2019 (August 1st in UK). Available online, or order locally from your favourite bookshop, or from my publishers Llewellyn Worldwide To get updates on the book please subscribe to our mailing list.