Welcome to Autumn! Even though the weather over summer in Perth was mild, I for one certainly enjoy the cooler night temperatures and Autumn days are still long enough to fit in some time outdoors after work! How are you finding the seasonal change?
In Chinese Medicine we think of the body as a small version of the universe around us. As the seasons change, so should we. Humans should be adaptable; to flow with the seasons is to live in harmony. By doing this, we support our physical and mental health. Autumn is a time to slow down, to harvest and enjoy the abundance of what bore fruit over Summer.
What happens to our Qi in Autumn?
The Metal season of Autumn is when the Yang movement of the Spring and Summer months comes to an end and the Yin months begin. Because of this, our Qi should start to CONTRACT and MOVE INWARDS. Autumn relates to the LUNG and LARGE INTESTINE organs, the colour is WHITE and the flavor is PUNGENT. This is a time of HARVEST, COMPLETION and REST – making it the perfect time to reflect deeply on your ATTACHMENTS and to LET GO of anything that no longer serves you.
The Lungs and Large intestine - our five element metal organs
In Chinese Medicine, the LUNG is considered to be one of the most important organs (after the HEART, of course) – and its function is what determines the flow of Qi around the body. It is also in charge of your defense mechanism and immune system – known as Wei Qi. As the Wei Qi travels over the surface of the body to protect it, your Lung organ also looks after your skin to keep it moist and glowing. Your Lung houses the Po, which is your bodily soul and sense of self. This spirit gives our personality boundaries and establishes our connection between ourselves and the world around us.
The LARGE INTESTINE on the other hand is a digestive organ that deals with separating the foods you eat into pure fluids (that get used by the body) and impure fluids (that it excretes). In classical Chinese Medical texts it is known as ‘the great eliminator’ as it not only excretes things that don’t serve our body from a physical sense, but also lets go of emotional issues that no longer serve us.
If your "Metal" organs are functioning properly then you should have a clear sense of self and connection with the world. You should experience inspiration and hope and be able to breath deeply and your bowels should be regular. However, if your Lung or Large Intestine become dysfunctional your Po may scatter, stirring emotions which may include feelings of grief or depression, or with skin issues, sinus problems or bowel blockages.
As Autumn is the time of the Lung organ it is the perfect time to make a few small changes so that you can avoid these kinds of Lung imblanaces and make the most of the magnificent Autumn months!
Mental Health in Autumn
As the Qi of Autum is constangly moving DOWNWARDS and INWARDS, the main themes of the season tend to revolve around
BOUNDARIES ATTACHMENT LETTING GO
If your Lung and Po are balanced and the body is harmonious then you should feel hope and inspiration. However if the Liver is unbalanced and the Qi becomes stagnant then emotions of sadness, grief and excessive attachment may be stirred.
The Lung and the Large Intestine are also concerned with processing and elimination. After Summer when we focus on our INTERNAL BOUNDARIES, in Autumn we look outwards towards out EXTERNAL BOUNDARIES or how we approach and interact with the world. Basically, this is the perfect time to begin to reflect on your place in the world and how you would like that to change over the coming days and months. It also provides the perfect opportunity for you to LET GO (both emotionally and physically) of things that are no longer serving you.
Autumn Health Tips
EAT WARM – as the temperatures are dropping it is important to begin incorporating more warming and nourishing foods into the diet.
SLEEP – The move into a more Yin time of year means that our bodies begin to need more sleep. In order to match the shorter days make sure that you’re getting to bed by 10pm and prioritizing 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
HYDRATION – the Metal organs have a tendency to become dry and brittle as the external environment does (think of how your skin in Winter). To combat this, make sure that you drink plenty of water.
YOGA – Did you know that the Yogis and Ayurvedic practitioners also consider the gut to be the centre of our immune systems? All of their deep twisting poses allow us to let go of the old and boost our immune systems.
REGULATE YOUR BOWELS - Make sure your bowels are letting go! As the Large Intestine helps you to excrete both physical and emotional impurities, make sure that you have to …ahem…’go’ everyday.
BREATHING – Part of Autumn is based around ‘letting go’ and our body lets go through our skin and our bowels. If you can sit and practice some sort of mindful meditation for 10-15 minutes everyday you will not only notice a sense of calm and ease but also you’ll help your body to clear itself out!
REFLECTION – Schedule in 10-15 minutes 2-3 times per week to reflect. How do you feel in your daily life? Are you finding fulfillment in your relationships, job, family, hobbies etc? This is a perfect time to begin journaling and exploring your thoughts, feelings and inner world which will allow you to connect with yourself but also with how you feel about your connections with the world around you.
CLEAR YOUR SINUSES – as the Lung detoxifies through your breath and skin, it’s important to keep your sinuses clear from pollens, mucus and excess bacteria.
ACUPUNCTURE & HERBS – Acupuncture is an amazing and gentle way to even out any ‘stuck bits’ in the body – be it physical, emotional or energetic. If you’re feeling sick, stuck, sad or just plain confused, see your local acupuncturist for a seasonal tune-up. You might find that while you’re doing all the above things in the right way a good Acupuncture session or two can really help to turn things around. There are also some fantastic herbal formulas that might be up your ally too.
EAT WARM AND COOKED – begin to cook foods for longer periods such as baking or sautéing. Having foods with more warmth (and Yang) in them will help to keep our insides warmer while longer cooking times makes the food easier to digest. This is a great time to get into cooking soups and stews!
ANYTHING WHITE – cauliflower, brown pears, mushrooms, garlic, potatoes, onions, ginger, parsnips. White fruits and vegetables tend to have a higher amount of phytochemicals such as allicin, which has fantastic antibacterial and antiviral properties. Other white veggies are a fantastic source of potassium and magnesium too!
ADD IN PROBIOTICS – as the function of the Large Intestine is the centre of our digestion AND immune system, it’s super important to keep it happy in Autumn. If you can, add 1-2 doses of probiotics in each day. Try adding some yogurt to your breakfast, pop a spoon of sauerkraut or kimchi in your salad or have a glass of kombucha in the evenings.
FOODS TO AVOID – If you find that you tend to get more sinus infections or constipation it may be a good idea to avoid things that exacerbate the problem, e.g. dairy products, refined white foods (sugar, white flours and rice). Anything excessively ‘hot’ (like alcohol and coffee) can also dry out the mucous membranes, increasing the likelihood of a sinus infection.
WELCOME TO AUTUMN!
To book in for an appointment click here. For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Nicole Trudgeon (Chinese medicine Practitioner). Nicole is a practitioner of acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine (AHPRA registered) at her Booragoon clinic and is a Chinese Medicine Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Perth campus.