A joyous Equinox to all!
Yesterday marked the start of our journey into the season of Autumn, and the shift is definitely noticeable here in Spokane with a crispness in the air and changing colors in the trees.
As many of you know, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is largely rooted in harmony and balance – the body with itself, as well as the body with its environment. As we shift into each new season, it is important to shift our habits accordingly to remain healthy.
Here is some advice for staying healthy in Autumn:
The Element of Autumn: Metal
Autumn is associated with the Metal element in TCM.
The Metal element governs order, organization, communication, and setting good boundaries. As we transition from Summer (governed by the Fire element), it’s important to draw some of that outward energy back in: to consolidate and conserve. Notice that Nature is beginning to gather and prepare for the approaching Winter season; it is time for us to do the same. Don’t overexert yourself. Eating nutritiously and going to bed early/rising early will put you in harmony with the rhythm of the Autumn season.
The Metal Organs: Lung & Large Intestine
‘Tis the season for coughs, sore throats, runny noses and upper respiratory infections. The lung is a delicate organ, largely due to its direct connection to the outside world. It is especially susceptible to wind and cold. It is also the organ responsible for keeping you protected from catching colds. Protect it so it can help to protect you!
You can help protect the Lung by dressing appropriately for the season; wear a scarf and a hat, and dust off your coats and warmer shoes – it’s time to don them!
You can also help protect the Lung by keeping the Lung qi (pronounced “chee”) or energy full, clean and quiet. This can be best achieved with breathing exercises such as Qi Gong (More info: click here), or simply with meditation focused on the breath. Stop throughout your day to consciously take full, deep breaths.
Grief and sadness are the emotions of the Lung. When the Lung is out of balance, grief and sadness can become enhanced and difficult to move through. Conversely, unresolved grief and sadness can lead to an imbalance of the Lung organ. If you are having difficulty with grief and sadness, reach out to your Acupuncturist for some focused treatment in this area. Expressing and resolving these emotions will help to strengthen the Lung and immune system to keep you healthy as we move closer to the Winter season.
The Large Intestine is responsible for both the physical “letting go” as well as the emotional “letting go.” This is the perfect time of year for cleaning and organizing your belongings and donating what you no longer want or need. Do you have a messy closet or cluttered computer files that need your attention? Time to get on that!
It’s also a wonderful time of year to work on forgiveness, and to let go of old habits and patterns that no longer serve our highest, best Self.
Food Advice: Eat & Drink Warmly
As the weather turns cold, it becomes more important and appropriate to eat warmer foods. It’s time to lessen your consumption of cold and raw foods (such as salads) and increase your consumption of cooked foods. Soups are perfect for this time of year!
Take advantage of the seasonal produce: especially turnips, pumpkin, various squashes, apples, pears & sweet potatoes. It’s a great idea to add ginger and cinnamon to your diet, too.
Don’t forget to switch to warmer liquids. Put down the ice water and replace it with some hot herbal tea.
To Summarize: Do what nature is doing.
Living in harmony with Nature is a great way to ensure you’re doing all you can to stay healthy. Autumn is the time of year when Nature is slowing down and beginning to contract and conserve as it prepares for Winter. To ensure a healthy Autumn (and thusly a healthy Winter), take the time now to do the same: conserve your energy, get enough sleep each night, eat nourishing, warming foods, and dress appropriately. Turn your attention inward and work on your Self. Breathe deeply and let go.
“There was temperance in eating and drinking. Their hours of rising and retiring were regular and not disorderly and wild. By these means the ancients kept their bodies united with their souls, so as to fulfill their allotted span completely, measuring unto a hundred years before they passed away.” Huang Ti Nei Jing Su Wen