Easing into Fall: Your How-To Guide
Syncing with the Seasons.
The transition into a new season is an opportunity for us to realign with our body’s natural rhythm. In both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, humans are seen as a microcosm of the macrocosm. That’s to say that the human body is a projection of the world around us. When we fall out of sync with our environment, we fall out of sync with our natural state of health, and essentially we fall out of balance.
Each season is linked with a different element, organ pair, and emotion. Fall is associated with the metal element, the lungs and large intestine, and grief. Transitioning from summer to fall can be a particularly stark transition. We’ve spent months in this state of high energy, enduring long days, high temperatures, and less sleep. These aren’t bad things, because they are in alignment with the summer season, which is associated with fire and upward movement.
Fall is where we begin to move inward. It’s a slow transition towards winter, where a relative state of hibernation occurs. In order to get to that place where we can rebuild our energy and find introspection, we must look at the things, patterns, situations, and feelings we’ve acquired over the past year, or longer, that may no longer be serving us, and let them go. If there was one phrase that could be associated with metal, fall, and the pertaining organs, it would be “let go.” For so many of us, our relationship with grief is so uncomfortable that we continue to carry things with us, season to season, year to year, that we no longer need. These things keep us from bringing in new and useful tools because there’s just no room. Think of the trees that line the streets in the fall. The leaves change color, dry out, and eventually drop off. If they didn’t, the tree would not be able to continue growing. When spring came it would still be holding onto it’s dead leaves, leaving no room for new growth. It’s a cycle, and one that we as humans have to go through as well. It shows the impermanence of things and how things are in constant flux, including us.
Here are some ways to be in sync with the season and the environment:
Honor the shorter days and your natural decrease of energy. You’ve expended so much energy over the summer months and coming down from that high can be difficult. We resist it because we live in a society that craves stimulation and action. Fall is less about external action and more about taking an internal inventory of where we’re at in this moment. Adopting a meditation practice is a great way to honor this. Try sitting in stillness for 10 min, once a day to start. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment.
Eat warm foods.
The weather is cooling down and just as you would bundle up to keep your outside warm, you need to keep your insides warm with warm foods. Summer was all about cool and refreshing foods. You needed those things to keep the element of fire in check. Those foods likely won’t serve you come Fall. Think root vegetables, pumpkin, beets, carrots, turnips, squash. Things that are in season and at their peak of freshness. The lung organ loves pungent flavors, so adding warming spices like cinnamon and ginger to your recipes is great this time of year.
Keep your immune system strong.
Regular acupuncture is great way to do this. Another simple thing you can do is to keep warm. Your body is more vulnerable to illness this time of year. Wear a scarf, as the back of your neck is one of the more exposed areas where cold and wind can enter the body and create illness.
Change your relationship with grief.
It may be an uncomfortable emotion for most of us, but it’s natural and impermanent. If you allow yourself to let go of what is no longer, you make room for all the things that are in alignment with your true, authentic path. Note that when I speak of grief here, I’m speaking of it not just in terms of death, but anything that doesn’t serve this present moment or has an attachment to the past. Let it go, and then grieve it’s loss. Although it may not seem like it, this is a natural process that the mind and body want and need to go through.
As doctors of Chinese medicine we look at how each part affects the whole. When one part of the system is off balance, it affects the system entirely. The idea here is the same. When you allow yourself to be in tune with each season in it’s uniqueness, it makes the transition into the next season and the one after that more of a natural process, leading to a life that’s less resistant and more open to change, which is always inevitable.