One of my favorite aspects of Chinese Medicine is the emphasis on the value attuning ourselves to the energetics of each new season.
The Ancient Chinese understood that our ability to live in harmony with the seasons has a positive impact on our health. The nature of each season reverberates through our experiences and influences our lives.
Autumn is the season where growth ends and declines. Things begin to wither and rot. Leaves fall from the trees to the earth to nourish the next year. There is a sense of poignancy now as we appreciate its beauty, while we mourn its passing. But as an exhale, this is an essential time to practice letting go to prepare for the next fresh breath of air and inspiration.
Here are my top recommendations for a healthy Autumn:
- Let go: Whereas in the Summer we feel joyous and carefree, Autumn is more of a reflective time. It is one where people commonly experience grief for what is lost. Letting go can be hard, but it is healthy to examine our attachments to habits, ideas, relationships, material objects, etc. We can ask ourselves if they still hold value or serve our best interests anymore, and let some things go. We always talk about Spring Cleaning, but Autumn is a perfect time to tackle the neglected spaces in our homes or our lives. Letting go of what is stagnant may bring with it a reinvigorated feeling of renewal and potential.
Check out Cara’s blog on clearing spaces.Gather in: On the flip side, as we clear out old stagnant energy, we may also consider which aspects of our lives are of great value to us. By collecting and gathering what is most valuable to us, we can connect to our essential essence. This is the energy of the harvest, the archetype of the Autumn season. Seasonal acupuncture treatment is a perfect way to help ourselves gracefully attune to this new phase.
2. Care for your health: Internally, the Autumnal energy manifests most powerfully through the functions of the Lungs and Colon. The Colon represents the ability to transform and let go of impurity and waste in our lives and bodies. It is the organ and function which exemplifies the ‘letting go’ energy of Autumn. On the other hand, the Lungs represent our sources of inspiration, receptivity, collection, and the ‘gathering in’ of what is pure. In this way, they are like Yin and Yang – two sides of the same coin. We want to modify our habits to improve the functions which the Lungs and Colon represent, both physically and metaphorically.
3. Warm-up your diet: Tweaking your diet helps you stay healthy as the cool air blows in. Simple diet and lifestyle changes can support our health as we move from the Summer to the Fall and then to Winter. Now is the time to eat warmer foods, like stews and congees. Cooking our meals imbues them with a warmer thermal quality. We want to eat foods that engender the gathering and storage of energy for the coming Winter. I recommend eating root vegetables, sweet potatoes, beans, and nuts for this purpose.
4. Protect your respiratory system: In the Autumn, we are prone to skin, sinus, and Lung problems. Foods with sour flavors can collect and draw things inwards. This helps us to keep fluids in, which is vital during the Autumn because things tend to dry out, and we experience symptoms of dry nose, dry throat, or dry skin. The sour flavor also strengthens us against the environment, and it helps to protect the Lung and the Sinuses, which are easily damaged by the changing weather. Spicy foods are another critical Autumn flavor. Spicy flavors can open the pores and dispel pathogens from the outer layers of our body. This is where we have our natural defenses against the elements. Acrid foods and herbs act on the Lungs, skin, pores, and respiratory system. A regular cup of ginger-lemon tea might be the right call during this period. And make sure to bust out the hat and scarves to protect your head and neck (and thus your Lungs) from the colder winds coming soon.
Listen to The Grow, Cook, Heal Podcast where Cara cooks a 5-flavor salad for Jill Blakewa
About Michael Keane, L.Ac.
Mike was introduced to Chinese Medicine while studying Philosophy as an undergraduate student. After experiencing first-hand how effectively Acupuncture and cupping healed his own back pain, he decided to dedicate himself to its professional study.
He was trained in Acupuncture at the Won Institute of Graduate Studies in Glenside, PA, where he also studied Chinese Herbalism as a student under his teacher, Cara Frank.
Michael excels in treating chronic pain, musculoskeletal issues, headaches, anxiety, stress, insomnia, fertility, respiratory, digestive, or nervous system issues. He is passionate about using Acupuncture and herbs to treat addiction and trauma.