Entering the fall - What resides in the change of season and how acupuncture can help.
The days are getting gradually shorter, the heat begins to reside and the cool fresh air take hold of the days. As we look out the window, our breaths catch and collect on the cold window in a foggy haze across the glass. There is a cold edge to the air that signals us to start putting away our summer clothes and get out warmer clothing for the coming cold weather.The Autumn falls upon us, the season changes; leaves begin to change, presenting us with their beautiful colours before they fall off the trees to prepare for the coming winter. We also begin to harvest and gather the brightly coloured foods that grow at this time of year like pumpkins and squashes, so they can be put away for winter. The air is chilled and fresh, the trees partially bare, the smells and sounds quieter and calmer. The twilight descends earlier; the entering into darkness in the daily cycle and autumn reflects the inevitability of loss of light, warmth, and the slow decay of life itself.
The state of loss is counterbalnced by the Metals power to reflect and to find value and worth, to accept what is and bring inspiration through the connect with nature. It's this time of year that we go from the relaxed and carefree attitudes of summer to the more serious and introspective energies associated with autumn. The new season begins and there is an opportunity to assess our states of health and realign with our natural rhythms.
Autunm Associations in Chinese Medicine:
Element – Metal Yin Organ – Lungs Yang Organ – Large Intestine Emotion – Grief / Sadness/Letting go/Acceptance Climate – Dryness Stage of Development – Harvest Flavour – Pungent Colour – White Sense Organs – Nose Tissues – Skin Sound – Crying Healing Sound – Weeping
From an acupuncture perspective, Autumn is about refinement. It’s time to pare down, to let go of the excesses we allowed ourselves in summer and focus on what’s necessary for winter. In acupuncture theory; weather and climate, particularly during the transition from one season to another, factor significantly into acupuncture diagnoses and treatment plans.
In Chinese medicine, autumn is associated with Metal and the lungs and large intestine. This season governs organisation, setting limits and protecting boundaries. In autumn we move from the external, expansive nature of summer to the internal, contractive nature of autumn. It is a good idea to finish up any projects you started in spring or summer and enjoy the results of all your hard work. It is also a good time to begin new projects that focus more on the internal – cultivating body and mind and becoming more introspective. The energy of the lungs is “letting go”, so autumn is a good time to be mindful to let go of anything we may be holding on to so we can make room for new experiences that will help us to learn and grow.
The autumn time gives a reflective perspective; unique valuable and worthwhile in oneself. This season is about accomplishing the gift of appreciating the value of life itself and the abundance around. The domain energy of this season is governed by the Metal; the spiritual quality, the transformation of perfectionism to appreciation, regret to inspiration and loss to acceptance.
Connect to the Sublime
Seek inspiration from the natural world; watch the sunset, walk the dewy mornings open up to the wonders of nature, appreciate the special qualities of life. Nourish the Metal season and connect with the deep-seated something in ourselves. Even in a busy city, between the practicality of daily routines, take timeinnature to walk in the park or watch that sunset. Find that special place and let yourself appreciate life as it is; gain perspective from seeing yourself in the big picture. Spending time outside reinforces the connection to the Heavenly Qi and Lung energy.
Avoid grief and sadness
The emotion associated with fall is grief. This is the time of year to pull inward, to grieve 'letting go' and to reflect on any unresolved sadness. This can be an adjustment after the surge of energy and mood that many of us experience during summer, but it is normal to feel somewhat somber and pensive in the fall. We may think of the past, loss or what could have been.
The autumnal Chinese Medicine element - Metal can lead people to disposition of feeling sad. SAD is also a common biomedical diagnosis for people who feel depressed in the colder, darker months—consider that you may be experiencing a natural heightened awareness of grief. If you sense it might be more than that, by all means, see an acupucnturist or think about getting a SAD light to help you through the winter days.
Lungs bring the fresh energy in to the body to nourish the body mind and spirit. Oxygen is the most important nutrient. Deep breathing is a regulatory step in regaining adaptation. One of the best ways to strengthen the lungs is to breathe deeply. Shallow breathing reduces oxygen exchange and promotes the release of stress hormones which affects our memory, energy level and immune system. When we breathe deeply and with intention, we are flooding our cells and brains with much needed oxygen that is vital to all the body’s processes. We are also taking in vital qi from the air that the lungs use to perform many functions that keep us healthy.
Wear a scarf - keep warm and protect the lungs!
Acupuncturists are always going on about wearing scarves. It’s for good reason. Lungs, the organ associated with autumn, is considered the most exterior organ. It is the first line of defense against external pathogenic factors. As the weather turns cold and the wind picks up, the Lung organ is extra vulnerable. Further, pathogenic factors such as cold and wind invade the body at the back of the neck, so keeping that area protected is very important in the autumn. Even if it’s sunny, always bring a scarf when you head outside.
Stregthen the lungs, masage an acupuncture point Lu-7
One of the best points for strengthening the Lung organ is Lung 7. It helps promote the descending function of the Lungs, which makes it a great point for cough, shortness of breath and nasal congestion. Lung 7 also is one of the most effective points for neck pain and stiffness. As mentioned above, wearing a scarf helps, but for protecting yourself against any residual wind and the resulting head and neck tension, Lung 7 will come in handy. Lung 7 is easy to access yourself. Make a thumbs-up sign. When you do that, you’ll see a depression at the base of your thumb (referred to as the anatomical snuffbox). From that depression, Lung 7 is located approximately two finger widths up your arm, feel a notch in the bone like a a catapillar bite.
Eat warming foods
Step away from the energentically cooling foods - Salads! The cool, raw, refreshing salads of summer will not do you any favors come autumn . Just as
we need to start keeping our bodies warmer on the outside, we need to stay warm on the inside as well. In autumn, eat warm, cooked food. Instead of cold cereal with milk, choose porridge. Trade the salads for soups oven roasted veggies over brown rice. When cooking, throw in some onions, ginger, garlic or mustard—these pungent foods are known to benefit the Lung organ.Veggie wise, root vegetables such as beets, turnips, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash are ideal. If you go for out-of-season vegetables, make sure they are cooked. If you’re craving fruit, reach for something seasonal such as baked apples, stewed pears, grapes, or figs.
September, October and November are some of the best months in the calendar to enjoy England. From golden leaves to deer rutting and bumper wine harvests, autumn is a season characterised by colour, taste and sound.
Enjoy the autmnal season!