In these early days of September, when there is a distinct nip in the early morning air, nature is gently beginning the shift from summer, to late summer, and finally to autumn. It is a time when nature is telling our bodies to slow down, and really look internally at what is going on. Are you able to feel that natural desire to be introspective? It can be challenging though, as September is also, for many people, the busiest time of the year! How can we try to slow down, listen to what our environment is telling us, and make the most of this beautiful transition time for our bodies, mind, and spirit?!
To begin, when we look at Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, autumn is the time most closely related to our lungs and large intestine. The lungs are largely connected with our immune system, so now is a great time to boost them, before we head into winter. When we are in constant connection with our bodies, these changes are instinctual...but again, being such a busy time of year, not everyone can hear their bodies request for a diet shift or a change to the exercise routine. This is the time of year to really fill our reserves, in all aspects of life, so we can make it through the long, sometimes super long, and cold winter!
When we talk about the lungs and large intestines, which become extra vulnerable at this time of year, we look at grief, sadness and the ability to move on from situations that make us sad. The lung is responsible for allowing new to enter our lives, while the large intestine will allow old to leave us. When our lung qi is healthy and flowing smoothly, as it should, we feel confidant, and capable of accepting life situations as they are. We can avoid getting stuck trying to change difficult times, and spend our time more usefully accepting what we cannot change. When our large intestine's qi is flowing smoothly, we can relax fully, and release what is no longer serving us. Children starting a new school year in autumn is really great, as it exercises this symbol of new beginnings. This can also be why some people feel sad during this time, because of the ending of summer. These particular emotions are heightened during this time, so how do we make sure our qi is flowing?!
A great way to celebrate this time of year, and to ensure we don't become stagnant is to purge our homes! It is a great time to clean out clothes you didn't touch this summer, and to literally make space for something new! It is also a great time to be outside and breathe, completely filling the lungs, only to then totally empty the lungs again. It is such a simple way of accepting the continual taking in of new, and releasing of old. Deep breathing also helps move the qi through the lungs and the lung meridian! And finally, the ultimate act of letting go...sleep! There is no better way to relax and fill our energy reserves than cozying up on the couch for a short nap, or going to bed 30-60 minutes earlier than you normally would. Rest is so important, and one of the areas that is often neglected during this time of year.
Some really cool ways to figure out if your lung or large intestine may be in need for a little acupuncture tune up?
· you wake up before your alarm, somewhere between 3:00-5:00am (lung) or from 5:00-7:00am (large intestine)
· breathing issues - asthma, shortness of breath
· frequent illness
· loose stools or constipation
· water retention
· sinus problems
· spontaneous sweating or absence of sweating
· skin condition primarily located on cheeks (lung) or corners of mouth to chin (large intestine)
· gas and/or bloating
One of the best ways to correct any imbalance in the body, including those of the lung and large intestine is through acupuncture and an evolving diet! Here are some support foods that are great for this time of year:
· sweet potato
· warm soups and stews
· cooked veggies
· limes and lemons
· adzuki and navi beans
If we can set aside time to shift our lifestyle, specifically at season changes, we will be sure to feel better, physically and mentally. Even for people who don't have acupuncture regularly, seasonal changes are a great time to have a re-balancing session or two. With a few meaningful adjustments, we can ensure our body is able to adapt and we can head into the coming season with full energy reserves and a motivated clear mind!
See you at the Spa!
Dr. Amy Nykoluk, R.Ac