The season has changed and so must we. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches us to live in harmony with nature. Everything in TCM is based upon Yin and Yang (the two principles in nature; mutually dependent opposites) and the Five Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood).
We are all made up of these elements and therefore must live in accordance with them and with the seasons for our health and happiness to really thrive. The world is an interconnected entity to which we are tied. As written in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, it is said that in ancient times those people who understood Tao – the way of self-cultivation – patterned themselves upon the Yin and the Yang and they lived in harmony.
Autumn represents the element of Metal and the emotions of grief and sorrow. It is the time of year in which we tend to look within ourselves and focus on self-reflection and growth, like turning over a new leaf.
Metal is in charge of the Lungs, for inspiration and reflection; and the large intestine, for letting go of the crap (yes physically, as well as metaphorically) and moving forward in life. In this cooling, ‘yin’ season, we need to support our immunity as our bodies are susceptible to dryness and weakness after the summer heat.
We are prone to colds and flus, respiratory issues like hay fever an sinusitis, digestive disorders and skin problems (as skin is as an extension of our lungs). It’s the time of harvest and gathering our energy in preparation for the hardness of winter. But it is also a time to gain vision and get organised and to clear out your cupboards and homes. Let go of anything negative in your mind, body and spirit and stay open in your heart to everything life may bring, good or bad.
Get outside, go bare foot on the ground and connect to the earth and your Metal element. Metal represents our spiritual side and higher self so you may feel an overwhelming sense to mediate or practice more yoga. Honour that part of you and allow yourself to feel to the depths of your soul, even if it feels sad and lonely.
To nourish your body internally this autumn, you also need to eat right with the season. We are what we eat and feeding on what nature provides is always best. Eat local and fresh with nourishing and moistening foods to avoid dryness such as pumpkin, sweet potato, turnip, carrot, stewed apples and pears, red dates, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Drink soy and nut milks, avoiding the dampness and mucus forming dairy product. In autumn, begin to cook foods a little longer, such a stir-fries and curries using warming spices and herbs like chilli, cinnamon and cardamom.
Foods to avoid (or minimise) include excessive cold foods like salads as well as heavy and greasy foods that generate too much internal heat and weaken digestion. As in any season, the most important part of eating is to enjoy your food, in moderation. Health is happiness, and happiness is health. They cannot be separate.
Here are a few more TCM tips to get the most out of your health this season….
Autumn health tips for the Adelady
:: Rug up
Wear a scarf in the windier days to protect your neck and body against external pathogens (like colds and flus).
:: Dry off
Avoid leaving the house or going to bed with damp or wet hair as this weakens your Wei Qi, or protective energy (immunity).
:: Sip citrus
Drink warm or room temperature lemon water to boost immunity and increase vitamin C intake.
:: Switch off
Turn off fans and air-con while you sleep as your body needs all the energy to heal and regenerate, not try and keep you warm.
:: Herb on
Add a little more garlic, onion and ginger to your cooking to ward away colds and flus.
:: Get support
Use acupuncture to balance your body and help protect against external, invading pathogens as well as herbal medicine as a preventative. (TCM is very good an for hay fever and sinusitis too – the effects are instant!)
:: Stay salty
Add a pinch of Himalayan rock salt to cooking as salt helps to prevent dryness.
:: Breathe deep
Take time each day to breathe slowly and deeply, inhaling clean, crisp autumn air to purify and energise you and your lungs.