In Chinese Medicine we think of the body as a small version of the universe around us. As the seasons change, so should we. Humans need to be adaptable; to flow with the seasons is to live in harmony. By doing this, we support our physical and mental health.
Autumn falls under what Traditional Chinese Medicine considers a “Metal” phase in the 5 elements of nature; where the Lung meridian and Large Intestine channels take centre stage. It is also a natural time of year to switch from the more “expansive” spirit of summer (think travel, going out more, and staying up late), to a more “contractive” time conducive to going inward, staying home, and sleeping more.
In clinic we are seeing more people with lung issues such as autumn allergies, colds, and coughing, as well others seeking treatments to assist them through a grieving process or a letting go process. Also IBS symptoms can increase, where the bowels can suddenly becoming more difficult and stubborn to move with seemingly no trigger.
When we are in tune with our bodies and how the seasons affect us, adjusting our lifestyles to coincide with the change in season is instinctual. Although for many it just isn’t a part of our culture’s consciousness anymore.
The Lungs and Large Intestine demand special attention because they are also the most vulnerable during Autumn.
The Lung, considered a Yin organ, is associated with taking in the new.
Emotionally, the Lungs coincide with:
- Grief and Sadness (unprocessed grief and sadness can stagnate the lung meridian)
- Attachment (difficulty letting go can stagnate the lung meridian)
When the lung Qi is flowing and balanced, one can experience enhanced:
- Clarity of thought
- Positive self-image
- Surrendering to and allowing inner peace and joy regardless of circumstances
The Large Intestine, considered a Yang organ, releases the old.
The Large Intestine channel is often associated with:
- Inability to let go, uptightness, stubbornness, stagnation, negative outlook (glass half empty vs. half full perspective)
- How we flow with life’s current
When the large intestine Qi is flowing and balanced, there can be increased:
- Sense of relaxation
- Release of what no longer serves a person
- Flowing with life vs. resisting
- Focus on the day-to-day vs. big picture/meaning/purpose
A heightened awareness of these emotions can coincide with the change of season.
For example, grief or attachment issues can be associated with the loss of summer which affects some people greatly due to less light and warmth.
TECHNIQUES FOR RELEASING OLD PATTERNS, FREEING UP MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL SPACE TO EMBRACE THE NEW
Here are 5 ways to let go this autumn:
- Breathe—wind is a key element in autumn. Therefore, take the time to focus your deep breathing techniques as you become aware of that which needs to be released. Big exhales.
- Purge—this will be unique to each individual, but if nothing else take the time to purge your closets of unused clothing. Not only will it free up more space, but those clothes will be deeply appreciated by those who need them this winter.
- Resolve old hurts—what pains or hurt feelings can you release this autumn? These unresolved emotions can express themselves as grief and negative self-image, leading to imbalance and illness of the Lungs and Large Intestine. Take advantage of autumns energy to let old wounds heal. Forgiveness allows us to release what we are holding onto, whether forgiving others or forgiving ourselves.
- Give—this goes hand-in-hand with purging and resolving old hurts. Give away what you no longer need, and give yourself the gift of release and freedom that comes from forgiveness of self and others. I find a special joy and satisfaction when I get rid of something I no longer use and drop it off at my local Salvos.
- Sleep—if you think about it, the act of sleep is the ultimate way of letting go. Sleep facilitates the cleansing and organisation of your brain. To keep things simple, aim to go to bed an hour earlier (the kids too) or, if your schedule permits, wake up an hour later.
Foods to increase and what to avoid.
Consume Warm Fluids & Cooked Foods. Warm and cooked foods are easily digestible and balance out the cooler external conditions we experience during Autumn and Winter. Try heating up your favourite dishes with warming spices – cinnamon, cloves and ginger are some of our favourite additions. Teas and soups are also encouraged to replenish the fluids loss in these more arid conditions.
Avoid foods that create coolness and dampness. Including uncultured dairy, cucumbers, watermelon, cold drinks, raw foods, sugar and wheat breads.
Our favourite piece of advice at SoulPod is:
Dress appropriately to the weather. Your Lungs are particularly vulnerable to winds and extreme temperature changes (aircon to heat or cold windy snaps) all of which are present in Autumn. We always recommend a scarf, even a light stylish one which will protect your lungs and neck this Autumn.