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Understanding Autumn

It happens every year: half of the people you know are mourning the end of summer while the other half are celebrating the coming autumn.  This ongoing battle between the salty air of the beach and everything pumpkin spice is eternal and unavoidable.

The Transition from Summer

As we transition from the carefree days of summer, the height of the Yang cycle, we are entering into initial phase of the Yin cycle.  The days are getting shorter, becoming chilly, and there is work to be done.  It’s a time of harvest, both literally and figuratively.  Crops, the bounty of summer, must be picked and stored; and our lives must re-adjust back to reality.  It’s a time to get back to work and school and to our goals all of which involve getting organized, having a plan, creating structure, and being healthy enough to follow through.  In order to accomplish all that we need to, it’s important to pay attention to communication, setting limits, and protecting boundaries.  So where do we turn?  How do we get this structure?  We need scaffolding!  Luckily, we can build our scaffolding out of metal…or, more accurately, the Metal Element!

Letting Go

The Metal Element (one of 5 Elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine) is comprised of two organs – the lungs and the large intestines – and they are at the forefront of our health picture in the autumn.  They give us the tools we need to stay clear, focused, and protected year-round but never more so than in the autumn, particularly given the relationship of the lungs to our immune systems.  Both sets of organs have an aspect of “letting go” associated with their functions.  The lungs not only let go of dirty air and pathogens on each exhale but they are also involved in the process of letting go of emotional baggage especially around grief and sadness.  The large intestines, on the other hand, literally allow us to let go of waste products that our bodies do not need.  The healthier our Metal Element, the easier it is for us to “let go” of the fun of summer and focus on the duties of autumn.  How can we support the Metal Element?

– Prepare for the Cold

As the weather begins to get chilly, it’s very important to dress appropriately to protect the skin and pores from pathogenic invasions…otherwise known as germs!  Wearing a scarf around the neck in the autumn is one of the BEST ways to avoid colds and sore throats by literally creating a barrier to the wind that carries the pathogens.  In addition, autumn is the perfect time of year to begin a meditation or Qi Gong practice since not only will it connect us to our breath and strengthen our lungs but it will also help clear our minds allowing us to handle all of the organizing and preparing that we must do.

– Protect Your Body

Sleep is vital during this chaotic shift in seasons.  Getting to bed earlier to be in tune with the shorter days, and waking earlier to mediate are essential changes we can make.  And, rising early takes advantage of the lungs’  most powerful time of day which is 3:00 – 5:00 a.m.  Any measures we take to strengthen our lungs will support our Wei-Qi, which is the type of Qi that runs just beneath the surface of the skin and is the equivalent of the immune system.  By protecting our lungs, we can actually build a force field of protection!  In addition, it’s a great time to use a Neti Pot to keep our nasal passages clean and clear of pathogens before they can enter more deeply into our respiratory system.

– Eat Pungent Foods

In terms of nutrition, autumn is the time to let go of mucous- and phlegm-producing foods such as dairy and to transition away from cold and raw foods like salads and summer fruits.  Instead, begin to add pungent foods like garlic, ginger, and onion which benefit the lungs and keep the pathogens at bay. 

– Express Gratitude

Autumn can be a time of great opportunity with the right mindset and focus.  The more we lean-in to harvesting the gifts being offered the better prepared we will be for our next transition into winter’s stillness.

About Cory Walsh DeLise, Lic.Ac.

Graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master’s Degree in Chinese Medicine from Emperor’s College in Los Angeles, California.  Cory believes strongly in the philosophy of complementary medicine which embodies the concept that no individual branch of medicine has all of the answers. It is in the spirit of working together that physicians, acupuncturists, chiropractors and other specialists can make strides toward not only healing patients but also preventing illness from manifesting.  Her specialties include musculoskeletal pain; infertility; facial rejuvenation; osteoarthritis; and disorders such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. She is trained in numerous techniques and can address a wide variety of diseases using acupuncture, herbal medicine, Chinese therapeutic massage, nutritional advice and lifestyle counseling.