The Autumnal equinox falls on 23rd September this year, marking the official end of summer and the beginning of Autumn.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Autumn is associated with the Metal element and the Lungs and Large Intestine. The cooler temperatures and dry winds of Autumn can directly attack the lungs, often resulting in common symptoms such as a sore throat, a dry nose, chapped lips, dry cough, colds, and flu. To protect the body from these external factors, you should now start to focus your healing around warming and strengthening the body and in the more spiritual act of letting go.
It is the season to retire early to bed and rise with the sun, to begin pulling your energy inward, toward yourself. This means retreating a bit from the outside world and making a choice to put more of your energy inward rather than outward. It is about conserving all the energy you have gathered in the summer months to see you through the cold winter days. This will help you enter the Autumn and Winter months feeling full and strong instead of tired and worn out.
It is common for people to be more vulnerable to colds, bronchial infections and allergies in the cooler days of Autumn. The pollen and mould in the air, as well as the cold dry winds of autumn, stress our immune reserves, making it a good time to support the immune system with rest and good foods.
By retreating and storing your energy you will find that you will get fewer colds or illnesses as your body will have enough energy (qi) to boost your immune system and keep you healthy and strong through the coming winter.
When the lungs lack energy (qi) we are prone to respiratory infections and when the large intestine lacks energy, we can experience indigestion and difficulty breaking down food and nutrients. Both situations start a negative cycle of losing more energy and feeling worse as winter goes on. To help keep the energy in your lungs balanced and stable make sure you get enough sleep, dress appropriately for the weather, and eat lots of root veggies and warming soups and stews. It is advisable in the Autumn to start wearing a scarf when you go outside as the winds can easily enter the body via the nape of the neck causing illness.
According to the Chinese five elements Autumn is associated with the Metal element and is seen as a time for letting go. Just as the trees let go of their leaves it is time for us to let go of the past and create space for the new. If your metal element is out of balance, you could be experiencing grief… or feeling sad particularly at this time of year. If you are feeling weighed down with grief or sadness TCM believes it is better not to ignore it but allow yourself to feel it and then you can begin to rebalance your metal. Grief can cleanse you of what you no longer need in your life and should not be seen as a negative emotion. If you are having lung problems or a cough it will often get better when you acknowledge and deal with your grief. It takes up more of your energy not to feel than it does to feel.
Tips to Keep Healthy and Joyful This Autumn
Clear Out Your Clutter
Let go of physical things, clear out anything cluttering up space in your home, get rid of clothes you no longer want and organise your admin. By doing this you are practicing the art of letting go and making space for new things to come into your life.
Let go of any old hurts and resentments. A good exercise is to write down any hurts or resentments from the past on pieces of paper and realise that each piece of paper is weighing you down. Then tear them up, shred or burn them letting each resentment or hurt go as you do.
Make time for meditation
There is never enough time in the day to get everything done so take a few minutes to do NOTHING. TCM says this is the time of year when the spirit is more accessible. If you haven’t learned to meditate just spend 10 to 15 minutes with your eyes closed and relax and breathe, put on some soothing music and reveal in the joy of doing nothing.
Drink plenty of water
As autumn is associated with dryness try to drink at least 8 – 10 glasses of water a day.
When the weather allows go for a walk enjoy the beauty of autumn and appreciate how nature changes and adapts with the seasons and how the trees easily let go of their leaves leaving space for new growth new adventures and new beauty.
Should you feel the start of a cold it’s good to have a remedy that you can put together quickly that will help to fight off the incoming illness. I love this drink and it has helped stop many a cold getting hold.
· ginger, about 1 cm cube grated
· The juice of 1 lemon
· 1-2 tsp. honey
· dash of cayenne pepper
· hot water
1. Add the grated ginger to a mug.
2. Add the juice of 1 lemon to the same mug.
3. Stir in a teaspoon or two of honey adjust to taste
4. Add enough hot water to fill your mug.
5. Add a dash of cayenne pepper.
6. Mix well and sip frequently.
The recipe is not exact, so just add as much of each ingredient as it takes to make it palatable for you.
Drink throughout the day