Fall is in the air.
As we approach the Autumn Equinox on September 22, we say goodbye to the intense heat and exuberant social schedule of summer, and begin to embrace the quieter energy of Autumn. It’s crisp cool air and brightly colored leaves are a welcome change. For our ancestors, many of whom lived and worked on farms, this was a time of celebration for the bountiful harvest and of preparation for the long cold winter to come. The Fall Equinox is seen as the transition from Yang to Yin energy ~ or from brightness, warmth, and outward activity to darkness, cold, and inward reflection. The energy of this season is a drawing in and letting go.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this season is associated with the Metal Element, and with the Lung and Large Intestine Organ system. The lungs govern our skin and respiratory system, both of which form boundaries between ourselves and the outer world. When your lungs are in balance, you will have clear skin, a strong immune system, and the ability to set healthy limits. The lungs’ paired organ, the large intestine, is responsible for letting go of waste ~ either through healthy elimination, or in the ability to let go of what is no longer serving us. Weakness in the lung and large intestine organ systems will show up as frequent colds, allergies, spontaneous daytime sweating, low energy, pale complexion, and constipation. Emotionally, we may experience excessive grief or sadness, and the inability to let go of the past.
Here are some suggestions to support our lung and large intestine systems, and to ease the transition into fall:
Clean your closets: Spend some time creating order, and challenge yourself to get rid of 25 items that you no longer use. This physical action of letting go will create energetic space and help to stimulate a release of old emotional baggage. Practice letting go of unhealthy habits, and negativity.
Breathe: Recognize that your breath is your connection to the outer world, and start to bring awareness to your breath in small moments throughout the day. Practice deep belly breathing. Shallow breaths taken into your upper lungs stimulate your sympathetic nervous system and the fight or flight response, whereas belly breathing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which has a calming effect.
Nourish: As the weather becomes colder, start to incorporate more warming foods such as soups and stews. Also, since this season is associated with dryness, choose foods which are moistening and supportive of the lungs. Some to try include:
Support: Bolster your immune system with regular Acupuncture visits, and with a Chinese Herbal Formula designed to strengthen your body’s protective Qi. Stimulation of Acupuncture Point ~Stomach 36, located one hands width down from the knee, has been found by researchers to strengthen and regulate the body’s immune response. Similarly, the herbal formula Yu Ping Feng San, made up of Astragalus, Atractylodes, and Ledebouriella root, has been shown to boost the body’s ability to fight off respiratory illness. Clinically, it is used for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), spontaneous sweating, frequent colds, fatigue, and to prevent viral infections including SARS.
Wishing you a happy and healthy transition into fall!
Pia Mezzacappa Lic. Ac. MAOM