Autumn is the time when the days become cooler and shorter, the leaves turn brilliant colours, and nature rids itself of what is not needed when it sheds its leaves to let go of the rubbish it no longer needs. With those leaves, it produces its compost, enriching the soil, ensuring the next cycle has the nutrients it needs to grow. We sort through and put away our summer clothes, letting go of whatever we did not wear this season and bring out our favourite sweaters, hats, and scarves. It is a more introspective time as we let go of some of our carefree attitudes of summer and settle into some favourite routines and plan on new ones to nurture ourselves over the coming months.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), autumn corresponds with the metal element and the lungs. It governs the organization, setting limits, and protecting boundaries, just as your immune system does. It’s an excellent time to finish any projects you have started, so you can enjoy the benefits that they have brought you. The expansive energy of summer begins to contract to move towards more reflective time—a great season to cultivate body, mind, and personal spiritual growth. It is also a great time to let go of anything that may be holding you back to make room in your life for new experiences that will help you learn and grow.
Other correspondences of autumn include:
• element: metal
• yin organ: lungs
• yang organ: large Intestine
• sense organ: skin
• emotion: grief or sadness, acceptance and letting go
• climate: dryness
• stage of development: harvest
• flavour: pungent/spicy
• colour: white
• sense organ: nose
• sound: crying
• yin yang organ pairs
Every organ has a yin/yang pair in TCM. Autumn corresponds to the yin organ, lungs, and the yang organ large intestine, and they work together to promote balance. The lungs are responsible for taking in the new, breathing fresh, clean air, and filling us with the oxygen we need to function optimally. The large intestine, being the last stage of digestion, is responsible for only holding on to what is important for our health and vitality and letting go of everything that is not useful. Emotionally speaking, it would not be uncommon for someone with difficulty letting go to struggle with chronic constipation. Metal is what gives a person decisiveness, a sense of justice and righteousness. A good quality metal element in a person’s chart means a person has good leadership and decision-making ability.
The lungs are associated with clear thinking and communication and the ability to relax and let go. When the lungs are out of balance, you may suffer from a prolonged sense of grief and have difficulties coping with loss and change. This may show up with attachment issues or spending too much time living in the past as it may be difficult for you to let go of people, objects, or experiences. Fully experienced and resolved grief can strengthen the body and so it is important not to avoid grief but to experience it, accept it, and let it go.
• breathe deeply: flood your body with all the oxygen it needs to fuel vital processes.
• walk outside: this is one of the most beautiful times of year to connect with nature and breathe in the crisp, cool air.
• let go of negativity in your life: sometimes spending some time on becoming aware of these habits can cultivate acceptance that these no longer serve us, and it can become easier to let it go.
• reorganize, clean out and donate: closets, cupboards, emails, you name it, sort through it and let it go, and you’ll be surprised how much lighter you feel on an emotional level.
• wear a scarf and put on a hat: protect your head and the back of your neck because, in TCM, the wind is the cause of more than 100 diseases, including all kinds of viruses, colds, and flus.
Foods to eat
Garlic, ginger, onion, cabbage, radish, leeks, asparagus, broccoli, celery, sauerkraut, pickles, olives, sweet potato, pears, grapes, apricot, banana, lemons, limes, grapefruit, apples, plums, yogurt, eggs, cheese, sourdough bread, almonds, walnuts, navy beans, miso, rice, chilli, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, vinegar.
TCM teaches us how to live in harmony with nature. Autumn is a time of contracting, slowing down and becoming more introspective. Make sure to get enough sleep and eat warm and nourishing food to protect your immune system and nourish your inner self to give you a greater sense of self-worth. You have everything you need inside of you.
Dove Sprout (R.TCM.P) co-owns Creston Acupuncture and Natural Health Centre. For more information on Creston Acupuncture and Natural Health Centre visit acupuncturecrestonbc.com.
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