From a Chinese medicine perspective, autumn is associated with the Lung organ and the Metal element. This association provides the foundation for many of our approaches to aligning your body's energy with the season and with nature.
But we can also look to nature to understand the importance of self-care at this time of year. As the leaves start to fall from the trees around us, we are reminded of the importance of letting go of that which doesn't serve us. This time of year, the hustle and bustle of summertime gives way to the coolness and stillness of autumn; from a Chinese medicine perspective, fall is the time that we should start to embrace a more inward, peaceful energy.
Here are our top tips for how you can start to mirror the shift from the outward Yang energy of summer into the transitioning Yin-ward nature of the season, and how you can implement the self-care that is so crucial in the fall. And make sure to read all the way to the end to find out about our Fall into Self-Care special discount!
Time to get organized
The Metal element, associated with the autumn, possesses a rigid, organizational energy; it has clear boundaries. That's one of the reasons that this is the season to organize your life and let go of that which no longer serves you. Think about cleaning out your clutter, and donating the items that are collecting dust.
And it's not just about stuff! Autumn is also a good time to release feelings of resentment or negative thoughts, towards others or even towards your own body, that may have been building up over the past months or years. We're settling in to the inward stillness of the Yin time of year; it's important to have a clean physical and emotional space to facilitate peace in that stillness.
Focus on your breath
Autumn is an important time to take care of the Lungs, by both connecting with our breath, but also making sure we avoid respiratory irritants. So... pay attention to the air quality index (AQI)! When the AQI is in the green, spend some time outside breathing in the fresh air. Savor the scents of nature, and spend some time everyday taking slow, full breaths
Breath can also be a time that you focus on releasing that which isn't serving you - that's, literally, what happens when you exhale! So as you focus on deep full breath everyday, spend some extra time on your exhale, and focus on allowing your body to let go and relax with that outward breath.
Prevent dryness in your respiratory system
Looking out the window, the golden dry grasses, while iconic to our region, are a visual representation of the dryness that results from months of summertime heat. And for those of us in Sonoma County, we can viscerally feel the vulnerability that comes with that dryness. Likewise, dry respiratory tissue (nose, throat and lungs) is significantly more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses taking hold.
Consider steaming your lungs for a few minutes every day (towel over your head, with your head over a steaming bowl of water), using a Neti pot daily, or even just using a saline nasal spray. Make sure your internal fluid production is healthy by drinking enough water. And pears / pear juice are considered especially nourishing for the Lungs.
Shift towards warm foods
It's time to put and end to the salads, ice cream and chilled watermelon that help to balance out the heat of summertime - and break out your crockpot! Cold food and drinks can create phlegm in the body, which clog up the lungs. Instead, start shifting towards broths, soups, and other warm foods. The warming spices are considered medicinally beneficial for the Lung organ: spices like cinnamon, ginger, anise and clove.... so don't judge the pumpkin spice lovers, they're just taking care of their lungs! **Note: avoid excessive intake of warming spices if you run hot, or if you are pregnant!
You can never go wrong with eating seasonal produce. Squash, pumpkin, broccoli, kale, mushrooms and walnuts all help to keep the Lung healthy, and the Metal energy in balance.
And, as discussed earlier, pears are especially nourishing and beneficial to the Lung organ, so eat them to your heart's content - YUM! A roasted pear, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with cinnamon is considered an A+ Chinese medicine treat for the autumn.
Face your grief
Chinese medicine theory teaches that each organ is responsible for processing a different emotion - and the Lung organ processes grief and sadness. So when someone is experiencing grief, the energy of their Lung helps them manage the emotion. If the emotion is too overwhelming, or becomes repressed, it has the potential to clog up the function of the Lung.
The goal isn't to avoid feelings of grief or sadness. Instead, the goal should be to lean into processing those emotions as they arise. There's no right or wrong way to face one's grief, but the important first step is to recognize it when it's coming up. Grief isn't just about loss of a loved one or a possession. Especially the past couple of years, grief is about losing time, losing touch with the things that make us feel alive, losing the opportunity to hug our loved ones. Let yourself cry, let yourself scream, let yourself mourn those losses. And you can always come back to your breath - focusing, especially, on the exhale - to help you process that grief.
Keep your immune system strong!
From a Chinese medicine perspective, the immune system is associated with the Lung organ. So this time of year is critical for building immunity as well. Acupuncture, herbs and supplements can all help to support a healthy immune system, so we do encourage patients to come in more frequently during these autumn months.
Click here to schedule an appointment with one of our acupuncturists, to start working on aligning yourself with the autumn energy, and to start your self-care efforts today!
And only available through Nov 1, we are offering a Fall into Self-Care special offer: 10-treatment package available for $850 (standard package price is $950)! So make the commitment to nourishing yourself, your lungs, and your immune system for a healthy fall! Mention the Fall into Self-Care package to your practitioner for more information, or to purchase the discounted package.
Happy autumn, everyone!