It is vital to engage with our environment and external conditions in order to understand the changes that are occurring within ourselves.
Autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering and storing for the Winter months ahead. The sun gets lower in the sky, the days get colder, and leaves fall off the trees.
In Chinese medicine terms, the movement of qi (often described as life-force energy) in the Autumn is downward and contracting. Qi is moving and gathering in to the depths in preparation to be protected and nourished throughout the cold Winter months.
The Lung and its paired organ the Large Intestine are the organs associated with this time of year; they have a down-bearing and dispersing movement. Every organ in Chinese Medicine is associated with an emotion, that of the Lung is grief; lingering sadness or grief that has not been dealt with causes the Lung to contract so it is unable to expand and distribute qi around the body. The Large Intestine allows us to ‘let go’ of what is necessary, especially grief and other emotions. In a physical sense, these two are connected as deep breathing using the diaphragm literally massages abdomen encouraging movement of the intestines.
The taste associated with the Lung is ‘pungent’. This creates expansion and counteracts the strong contraction movement. Pungent foods include ginger, spring onions, and garlic – foods that can help us fight off the colds and flu viruses that are so common at this time of year. Autumn is also a time to move to more warming foods – soups and steamed veg instead of salads. Root vegetables, which have a downward movement of qi, are very beneficial.
LIVING IN RHYTHM WITH AUTUMN
Autumn is a difficult time of year for many, but awareness of the nature of the season can help us cope with the changes. The downward and contracting movement of nature resonates with emotions such as sadness, and it can be difficult to willingly let go of the warmth and joy of the summer. But just as the trees drop their leaves and move their energy inwards to the depths, we must do the same in order to prepare ourselves for the Winter.
Autumn is a time to resolve or at least try to come to terms with underlying emotional issues. We can become more introspective, taking time to think about what is most important to us, and carry these ideas into Winter, dropping unnecessary and burdensome emotions as if we are dropping leaves.
It can be useful to acknowledge the feeling of qi descending and contracting throughout nature and inside ourselves, and be aware of the association of the sensation with grief; to work through any emotions that arise and then let them go. We can then enjoy the movement inwards, taking only what we want to bring with us into the Winter months.
The following activities can help us move in rhythm with the energies of Autumn…