AUTUMN : immunity, digestion, organisation + reflection
This beautiful season is the pivot between the active, outgoing, energetic Summer months pertaining to 'yang' and the introverted, stiller months of Winter. It is the beginning of the yin cycle, a time to reflect and allow ourselves to slow down and tune in to what is important and most needed. During this season we begin to rebalance and find more equilibrium, moving from outside to inside, within our lifestyle but also our inner world. We can utilise this time to get more comfortable with ourselves and find that restorative sense of 'being with self', quietening the outside noise. As the weather changes it naturally makes us calmer and cooler and finds us getting cosier. For Autumn you can reflect and consider what serves you best, brings you joy and adds value to your life. Socially we may naturally focus more on those we feel more connected to and enriched by being in their company, as well as being more with ourself.
For women, autumn corresponds to the time before bleeding. A time of preparation for the deeper stillness of winter (our flow, moon time). Be gentler with yourself in this leadup to the big shift and clearing of your bleed.
The organs related to Autumn are the lungs and large intestine, creating the Metal element. The lungs help maintain immunity while the large intestine is strongly focused on digestion.
These play a key role in what we want to take into our life, through the breath, and what we wish to release, through the stool, clearing wastes and what no longer serves us. Breathwork or in yoga, Pranayama (gaining control of vital life force, the breath) and focusing on our breath in general is a beautiful way to strengthen the lungs and assist our large intestine (colon) to improve and regulate evacuation of wastes = let go.
The lungs are our most delicate organ, like a misty forest they need to be moist and avoid dryness but also not have excessive moisture, presenting as phlegm or mucus. Some great tools are to rid your home, office and car of dust and mould, focus on breathing fresh air deeply into your belly (ocean, lake, forest or mountain air is so powerful) and if needed you can massage the top of your feet moving out to your toes to help strengthen and unblock your sinuses. The energy of the lungs should move downwards, when it is stuck we experience cough, wheezing, sneezing or asthma. It’s energy moves down to help push wastes in the form of a bowel movement through the large intestine. If it is restricted it can present as sluggish slow stools, constipation, dry stools, dryness of the skin or skin conditions. Although we breathe and have bowel movements all year round, these functions are amplified during this season in preparation for our deepest time of winter.
Ignoring, or unsuccessfully processing our emotions can create big imbalances and is the main cause of ‘internal disease’ in Chinese Medicine. Emotional imbalances or keeping them 'in' can even override the importance we put on our diet. It is very common that fear or emotional approaches to our eating habits can actually weaken our digestion and be taxing to our wellness. I usually explain it as cramming things into cupboards just before guests come to visit. Allow on the surface the home looks tidy and organised there is still the underlying dis-order in our cupboards which is seeking our attention and craving space and balance.
Autumn and the metal element governs organization, order and structure, strong clear communication, clarity of the mind, setting limits and protecting and reinforcing our boundaries. Think of the strength and powerful form of metal itself, like buildings, machines, tools and knives or jewellery. This time of year is perfect for finishing any projects of past months and tidying up loose ends, in preparation for a deep rest in winter. Deeply reflect in this time and praise yourself for all that you do and are. Relish your hard work.
As nature shifts Autumn brings dryness. Think of trees drying and shedding their leaves in preparation for the dormant rest of Winter. Strengthening the lungs during this time can help combat common allergies during this season, which can affect the lung tissue, and dry out our skin and lips. Boosting the function of the lungs also supports us through the Winter months and helps avoid colds and flus or feeling run down. Have a good cry to release some blocked emotions (you can use a movie or song to open to tears), sing your favourtie songs loudly and with full life, consider cutting cords with some friends or associates that are toxic or you are ready to release from, gain some structure by creating new healthy habits and order, and try incorporating slower cooked hearty meals like broths, soups, casseroles and pies into your diet and more gently moistening foods listed below. The flavour of the metal element is ‘pungent’ and the quality of food preferred is ‘moistening’. Autumn foods are pears, carrots, parsley, kale, watercress, turnips, spinach, avocado, sweet potato, apples, tahini (sesame paste), almonds (try dry roasted), flaxseeds, mushrooms, pumpkin, broccoli, ginger, garlic, chili, horseradish and fresh herbs, spices and warm drinks like turmeric lattes, chai's and ginger teas.
For optimal wellness, living with the seasons and moving with nature provides balance, flow and ease through each transitional phase. In clinic I use acupuncture and herbal medicine to best support you as a whole package, to find and restore your own inner balance and move more effortlessly through the ebbs and flows of life. I invite you to utilise these months of Autumn (if you are on the other side of the globe right now check out my 2 ‘Spring’ blogs here and here. For more Autumn inspo I've included a chart above for easy guidance. You can print it out through the link below.