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Emotions and the Fall Season
As light wanes and we prepare for the confinements of winter, sadness, grief and isolation can occur. What can we do to counteract these possible tendencies.
Fall- the season of waning light and with it are energetic changes happening in the 3 realms of heaven, man and earth. From the fullness of summer and the expansion it brings we have already entered fall and increasing contraction. With contraction is a descent of energy as sap in trees moves back down the trunks to return to the roots. Meanwhile the sun, to our perspective, moves back closer to earth's horizon, to its roots, so to speak. And humans gradually return back to warmth and shelter of home as colder weather sets in.
In Chinese medicine, fall is associated with the metal element which has two meridian/organs, the Lung and Large Intestine.
Both deal with taking in energy, taking what it needs and letting go of what it doesn't need. The lung does this 16-20 cycles per minute, the large intestine, hopefully once a day. The skin is considered a part of the Lung or respiratory system in both Chinese and Western medicine. The skin is important in protecting us from outside pathogens, regulates opening and closing of the pores and is the boundry between us and the outside world. In Chinese Medicine the lungs are also associated with the nose, sinuses, mucous membranes and fascia (a thin sheath of fibrous tissue enclosing a muscle or other organ [boundries of groups of tissue]).
Fall is a time of letting go, just like the leaves of a tree. In fall we harvest the crops we cultivated through the growing season and appropriate this nourishment to last through to spring. For humans it is a time of transformation and expansion of our existing bonds. Simply put it is a time of self-cultivation and realizing our resources and working within them. This requires focus of our energies. As we return more to the confinements of the home and family, it is a good time to revisit what our relationships mean to us and how we can renew them. It may call for more communication and compromise, establishing limits and boundaries and further defining roles and commitments. Fall energy asks us to rediscover what we value, including money, and letting go of unnecessary things as we "gather our resources" for the winter months ahead.
The process of letting go also means that when we have a hard time letting go we may grieve about someone or something we have lost. It may also involve sadness. When we have a hard time letting go it may express itself as constipation on a physical level. Or it may manifest as allergies affecting the skin and lungs. Even excessive stress can affect the metal element organs to create the symptoms above. Stress, grief, and sadness all have storage of energy in the body through emotional buildup. Just as with food, it is important what choices we make as to what we keep and what we throw away, what provides nourishment and what doesn't.
Foods and Diet Tips for the Fall Season
The Fall season brings with it a bounty of local foods which aid us in preventing illness and in preparation for winter.
Humans have developed a more artificial environment (air conditioning, heating, artificial lighting) and a diet that is less restricted to local seasonal foods (refrigeration and transportation) we are less cognizant of adapting to needs of the seasons.
The fall season is associated with the Lung and Large Intestine. To find out why see "Emotions and the Fall Season" in the column to the left.
The fall season energetic is contraction so eating astringent foods is appropriate. Also, foods which are heartier in substance and flavor are good for this time e.g. root vegetables, soups and stews.
Dryness affects the lung and large intestine. Periods of dry weather and indoor heating can affect our health. Those with dryness should use bitter or warming foods with caution. Adding a little salt to foods can help with retaining moisture (those with high blood pressure may not be able to). Bananas and apples are good for moistening the lungs and bowel if they are dry. Bananas are also good for hypertension.
Fall is a time when many catch colds as temperature fluctuate. When you have a cold eat much less and use more simple liquid-based foods like vegetable or grain based soups. These are good for colds with chills. With this condition we want to open the lungs and dispel the pathogen. Herbs good for this are: peppermint, yarrow, chamomile, cayenne red pepper (which contains high amounts of Vit. C). Garlic is a good anti-viral and can help to get rid of a cold early on. Helpful foods are, parsnip, horseradish, parsley, scallion, lemon juice and grapefruit. It is recommended to use fruit and vegetable juices and fresh fruit if the cold has symptoms of heat i.e. fever, feeling hot or warm.
To help eliminate mucous in the lungs: (items listed with "w" are warm those with "c" are cool, no letter are neutral) fennel (w), flax seed, radish (c) (regular and daikon) mushroom, watercress (c), ginger (w), garlic (w). Doing a sinus cleanse with a neti pot helps to get rid of airborne allergens and clean the sinuses.
To renew the mucous membranes in the lung and large intestine use mucilaginous foods to help remove old thick deposits of mucous. Best foods for this are: seaweeds, marshmallow root, fenugreek and flax seed. Fibrous foods also help to cleanse especially with regard to the large intestine. Best way to do this is to eat a variety of whole vegetables. To protect the surface of mucous linings eat dark greens and golden orange vegetables containing rich beta-carotene.
If one is looking to satiate hunger between meals try barley grass or spirulina drinks.
You can find more tips online and look for the winter newsletter with more information on the energetics of winter and healthy tips.