The time of transition in nature is again upon us. This time, from the maximum yang, heat, and expansive energy and activity, nature starts going towards yin, the interior, contractive energy and the beginning of stillness before winter, the time of maximum yin. Not surprisingly, this time of year is actually welcomed by many people. The transition into a more yin, still and internal state gives us a chance to slow down from the full-on activities of the summer.
Autumn is often associated with melancholy and nostalgia. This is mainly due to the fact that after a busy summer of activity and distraction, we are suddenly pulled internally and start focusing on ourselves, our lives and challenges. While this process can be somewhat challenging, it is an invitation for us to examine our lives, choices and intentions. We can make the most of this transition by honouring it and going with the flow.
The fall equinox is around September 21st, but climatic and energetic changes are well underway for a few weeks before and a few weeks after. Such times of transition can be unsettling for those who are sensitive, fatigued, or in a weaker state of mind/body/spirit health, be it chronically or acutely.
How to adapt your body to the autumn season
Here are some general recommendations to ensure a smooth transition into autumn:
- As the days get shorter, it is ideal to go to sleep earlier and, actually, wake up later. As we go deeper and deeper into the yin time of the year, longer sleep hours will nourish and nurture the yin within our body.
- Slowing down and doing less is a way to engender yin energy in the body. To that end, less physical activities such as gentle yoga, taichi, and meditation, while great to do all year round, are especially called for at this time due to their yin nature.
- Cut down on the number of projects that you might have on the go at once and focus on what is really essential.
- In the dietary department, we transition to more cooked foods and away from salads and fruit consumption. We should focus more on soups and stews and in general more hearty meals with a variety of root vegetables. Keeping warm in the fall and winter is paramount for surviving the cold but also feelings of fear, insecurity and anxiety (all yin in nature) that can arise at this time of the year. The warmth of our diet and dietary practices will ensure that, in some ways at least, we are addressing some of the emotional challenges of the season.
Keeping the Immune System Strong in the Fall
This is the time that many of us succumb to colds and flu as the climatic change in nature catches us by surprise. In our western way of thinking, we like to think of the immune system as a separate entity to the rest of the systems in the body such as digestive, circulatory, lymphatic or the nervous system. In reality, all these systems are nothing but the different manifestations of the same bigger system that is essentially the individual. All these systems work hand in hand and by improving and working on one system, you are helping with all others. Immunity belongs to the yang aspect of the body and requires heat and energy for its performance. This heat can come from diet, wearing appropriate layers in line with the season, and by not making yourself tired. Fatigue equals less energy; less energy means less warmth in the body which in turn means less immunity.
Immune system recommendations
- The obvious one for this time of year is to wear more layers. Mornings and evenings are cooler, but afternoons can be warm, and this can catch us off guard. Always protect your neck by having a light scarf to ward off any cool/cold draft or wind. Wear socks to ensure your roots are warm and secure. Keep your waist area covered and protected; this is where your kidney/adrenal system resides and is paramount for fighting the cold season.
- At first sign of a chill, take a very warm shower and ensure that the water is landing on your upper back/neck region. Then bundle up and keep yourself very warm.
- Drink fresh ginger tea. Peel and cut three slices of ginger (loonie thick), and put in simmering water for a couple of minutes. Strain the water and add a little honey or brown sugar. Have this tea throughout the season, but especially if you think you are coming down with something, in which case you could also add a touch of fresh lemon juice.
- Eat some purple turnip. Chop up some turnip and put in boiling water. Cook until fairly soft, then strain and add some sea salt, pepper and drizzle some olive oil. Do not discard the water as it has great immune boosting properties. Either drink it up or add to soup.
- Acupuncture treatments will help boost and regulate the system for a better transition, especially for those with more compromised systems.
Armin Madani-Nejad R.Ac