At the end of summer we often find ourselves thankful and rejuvenated from retreats and adventures, but the comedown sometimes leaves us anxious. The idea of trading flip-flops and summer-fun for sweaters and autumn leaves can sometimes leave us surprisingly tense. If you feel this way, you’re not alone, fall is the season of “taking in and letting go” and as a result, it’s common to feel a little grief and sadness.
This season is about transformation and flexibility. It’s about staying open– employing those summer reserves to help us flow into ourselves and understand what boundaries serve us and which ones we can dissolve. Since fall is about being mindful of “letting go”, we can replace the sadness of losing summer by releasing that which no longer serves us. We can reorganize that flow into new experiences.
In Chinese medicine, autumn is associated with the energetic and physiological aspects of the lungs. The lungs are responsible for inhaling oxygen-rich air into the body while exhaling harmful carbon dioxide. Simply put from an energetic sense, they serve to usher in the “new” while letting go of the “old.”
As fall approaches we intuitively transition from the expansive nature of summer to the internal nature of autumn. Autumn is ideal for deeper introspection and to cultivate the connection between our physical and mental bodies. Because the energetic association with the lungs is “letting go”, we can become mindful of anything we’re clinging to so we may create space for new growth, learning, and experiences to flow in.
But how can attuning with nature’s seasonal patterns help us stay well?
Traditional Chinese medicine doesn’t recognize health concerns as diseases, yet rather our body’s deep physiological response attuning with the patterns in nature. Consider asthma, depression, and bronchitis– all typical autumnal health concerns people report experiencing. Yes, asthma, depression and bronchitis might be health concerns we label (or become labeled with) to identify how physiological structures are being affected and are behaving, yet because fall is about establishing new boundaries and becoming more flexible, we have the chance to liberate ourselves from these labels and common health concerns by doing the integrative work.
If we allow ourselves to stay fixed and rigid, this stiffness manifests in the body with recurring common colds, upper respiratory issues, increased asthmatic episodes and bouts of depression. These concerns often become dramatic because we’ve allowed them in, yet we haven’t done the work to release the patterns that no longer serve us. Instead of looking toward the emotional predilections that may be driving the recurrence of these concerns we “accept” them as “the way it is” moving toward stagnation rather than into the flow our body craves.
From a Chinese medical perspective though, optimized physiological health depends on how we perceive incoming environmental information emotionally– fluid mind, strong body.
Are you ready to take a chance on change and go with the flow? Get your fall flow on with some tricks of the Chinese medicine trade:
Traditional Chinese medical breathing exercise– Each organ has an animal-associated healing sound. The lung’s healing sounds like a snake. So take a deep breath and gently let it out while breathing out the sound “sssssssssssssssssssss” until you’ve fully exhaled. Repeat again 2-4 more times. Practice a few times per day.
Food and Phytotherapies– To improve flow, you want to feed yourself foods that facilitate nutrients and nutrient absorption. As the weather cools, this means avoiding the damp, thick and cold foods you enjoyed in the hotter, summer months (such as gluten-containing foods, cold smoothies and too much yogurt.) These thick foods can trap nutrient absorption resulting in what we call “encumbered flow.” Fall foods that facilitate nutrients will help to improve flow and seasonal immunity, while also reducing asthmatic concerns. Examples of this are:
- soups over salads with scallion, citrus peel and white pepper
- Basil, bay leaves and cardamom
- Astragalus, oregano and rosemary
- Cabbage, turnips and taro
Acupuncture– Awesome for a change-of-season tune up, acupuncture has been shown to help regulate your ever-changing immunity. Avoid what’s floating through the air this season & fortify that lung energy with acupuncture.
Christine has dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health by harnessing the power of the epigenetic landscape. She is available for both private and professional consultations. Please contact her here.