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Autumnal Equinox 23 September 2019

In the West we don’t usually pay much attention to changing our lifestyle to align with the seasons. This is in contrast to Chinese Medicine (CM), however, which believes that the best way to stay healthy is to live in harmony with the seasons.

So what does that mean as we approach the Autumnal Equinox on 23 September? This date signifies the end of summer and the transition to the ‘yin’ season. Nature is slowing down and contracting, and for us we tend to move inwards also. We tend to reflect more, enjoying quiet time, and traditionally we would harvest what was planted in spring, preserving for the cooler months ahead.

According to CM, autumn is associated with the element of Metal – governing organisation, order, communication, the mind, setting limits, and protecting boundaries.

The transition from summer to autumn is a time when our life force (qi) is most unstable, but certain acupuncture treatments can strengthen your qi and your immune system before the onset of winter.

In CM, the Lung and the Colon are the internal organs related to the Metal element and to autumn. The Lungs are very closely associated with the immune system and control the circulation of the ‘wei qi’ (the protective qi), which is the defensive qi that protects the body from external attacks by viruses like colds and flu. A weakness in the Lungs can lead to a weakness in the wei qi, making you prone to frequent colds.

Balancing yin and yang

According to CM, the Lung and the Colon are the internal organs related to autumn and we must nurture these organs to thrive at this time of year. Every organ in CM has a partner – one is yin, the other yang. In this case the Lung is yin, and the Colon is yang, and they work together to keep the body in balance. The Lung is responsible for taking in the new, bringing fresh oxygen into the body to help us function optimally. The Colon is responsible for letting go, releasing waste as the last stage of digestion, and retaining only the nutrients needed for survival.

Tips for staying healthy in the autumn

A good way to strengthen the Lungs is deep breathing. Most of us are shallow breathing most of the time without even realising it. Shallow breathing can have detrimental effects on our energy levels and immune system.

Go for a walk outside and breathe in the crisp autumn air whilst soaking up nature. This will help to elevate your mood and at the same time you will be flooding your cells with vital oxygen.

Autumn is also the perfect time of year to take stock of all things in your life and to declutter – both physically and mentally. Besides decluttering your home and letting go of the old to make room for the new, it is an ideal time to get rid of mental negativity as well. Simply being aware of and acknowledging our negative emotions may be all that is needed to promote a more positive outlook.

This is the time to reduce our intake of cooling foods like salads and raw foods and to incorporate hearty foods like soups and stews. Pungent spices such as garlic, onions, ginger, mustard and horseradish can also be added for flavour.

Autumn is associated with dryness so it is important to drink plenty of water at this time of year.

Sleep is important for immunity in CM. It is believed you should retire early and ‘wake with the crowing of the rooster’. CM holds that the spirit is more accessible in autumn, which means even taking time out to rest and do nothing, or perhaps stretch or meditate, can have great effects on your wellbeing.

Being the uppermost organ in the body, the Lung is considered to be the ‘tender organ’ and especially susceptible to wind and cold. This is the time of year to keep warm and dress appropriately to avoid colder weather ills and chills.

By introducing some of these CM habits into your routine, you can enjoy an autumn filled with good health and happiness…