Welcome to the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons
Spiritual Practices for the Fall Equinox
A few years ago I asked my students to share something about how this time of year makes them feel. Several people expressed how much they love the fall. They were excited about sweaters and warm soup. But one woman raised her hand and exclaimed: “All I can think about is compost.”
Yes! As British author and teacher Jilly Shipway writes:
At the autumn equinox there is a shift of emphasis from sun to moon, light to dark, action to contemplation, growth to dormancy, fruitfulness to composting, building up to letting go, and movement to stillness. Now is a good time to pause after the frenetic activity of the growing season and consider how best to recuperate, regenerate, and replenish your energy this autumn.
This Monday, September 23rd, marks the beginning of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Let’s take a moment to honor this point in time together. Let’s celebrate the transition of seasons.
Through the practice of intentional season keeping we can let our souls rest in our intrinsic relationship with Nature. We can reconnect with the rhythm of the earth and the festivals our ancestors celebrated. We can follow the natural cycle of balance-activity-balance-rest and find healing from the stress, depression, anxiety, and general spiritual malaise that affects so many of us.
Here are some ideas to help you celebrate the Autumn Equinox. And please, share any of your favorite season keeping ideas with us in the comments!
*** Listen to Nature
On the actual equinox take a moment to go outside, smell the air. Notice the daylight. And the darkness. Feel the sun on your skin at noon and gaze at the moon after dark. Connect with the reality of decomposition beginning to happen around you. Watch the trees gracefully prepare to practice the art of letting go. Give thanks for your senses that allow you to experience the seasons. What do you learn as you smell, taste, see, touch, and listen to the world around you?
*** Listen to your community
Anytime in the next few weeks gather some friends for a dinner party, a bon fire, or a hike. Spend some time together in intentional conversation using the reflection questions below. Then have each person write a prayer of autumn blessing and put it in a bowl. Stand together around the bowl and give thanks for community. Close the ritual by having each person draw one of the prayers to take home with them.
*** Listen to your inner voice
Create a seasonal altar that helps you connect with the elements as they change around and within you. Allow this altar to be a sacred space to activate and hold your intention for the coming weeks of fall. Take a little time every day to sit and remember your intention and to offer prayers of thanks and healing for the world.
Place earth elements such as rocks, gemstones, and dirt in the North.
Place the water element in the West.
Place the fire element in the South.
Place air elements, such as incense, sage, feathers, and leaves in the East.
Ring a bell or clap for the element of space, and place any special objects (your intention written out, meaningful jewelry, a picture of the Divine…) in the center.
As you place each object, offer prayers of gratitude.
This video ends with the Purnamadah mantra, which is the invocation to the Isha Upanishad and is a celebration of spiritual abundance. In english it translates as: All this is full. All that is full. From fullness, fullness comes. When fullness is taken from fullness, fullness still remains. OM peace, peace, peace.
- Where do you feel abundance in your life? How often do you pause to notice abundance? How often do you assume that the things you want and need in life are scarce?
- Looking back over the past year, what have you accomplished? What harvest can you celebrate?
- What does it feel like when your life is unbalanced? What does it feel like when your life is balanced? What practices help you stay in balance?
- What intention do you have for the fall? How will you remember your intention over the next 6-12 weeks?
We all benefit from the wisdom of spiritual community. And community means more than one voice, so please add yours to the conversation.
How do you feel about turning toward autumn? How are you marking the equinox?