By Yuval Blum, L.Ac & Bronwyn Hill, ND —
According to ancient Chinese Philosophy the man is a representative of the universe. He’s a microcosm of the macrocosms. Therefore it is man’s desire is to become one with nature and live according to its rules.
One of the basic but most important ways to connect with nature is to synchronize life’s activities with the seasons.
Among the five elements, the autumn season is controlled by the metal element. The action of metal is to cut; cut and separate the unnecessary from the necessary, keep what needs to be kept and get rid of the waste. Autumn is time to keep and store everything that is essential and necessary for survival, and let go of all the accessories and fortune that has been collected during the summer. In the natural world we see animals trying to gain weight, store food, and prepare their homes to be warm and cozy in preparation for the long winter months ahead. Trees are no longer giving fruits and leaves falls down to the earth; all in an effort to preserve energy.
For many of us, the fall is a time where we “get back to work” and return to our busy routines. Many people will work exceptionally hard as the seasons change, but without balance, find themselves burnt out by the time November comes around. For human beings, autumn presents a time to find a healthy balance between work/family/school routines and self-care. It is a time to slow down and recover from the summer’s fast-paced activities. It encourages us to look into ourselves in an introspective way and do some internal emotional cleaning. It’s a good time for moderate physical activities like Yoga, Tai Qi, Meditation or other deep breathing exercises.
The typical climate of autumn is chilly, dry wind. According to Chinese Medical Theory, the wind is a “carrier” of external pathogens like viruses and bacteria. These winds tend to penetrate the body through the neck and the back of the neck, and for women the lower abdominal region is another area of susceptibility. To strengthen the Wei Qi, our defensive “immune system” energy, it is very important to keep these areas warm and covered.
It is also very important to adjust our diet. It is good time to eat concentrated foods with a contracted quality, like nuts, brown rice of any kind, legumes (mostly lentils), and an assortment of root vegetables (mostly the white ones) like radishes, kohlrabi, turnips, celery root, and onion & garlic. Change of Season soup (recipe found below) is a great addition to the autumn diet as it tonifies the immune system and nourishes the internal organs.
Generally, cooking methods appropriate to the fall season will be longer and more warm foods should be consumed – such as soups and stews which are easier on the digestive system and help our bodies cope with the colder temperatures. Sleep is also essential to overall health and strong immunity; as cold and flu season approaches, this is the time to prioritize rest by going to bed earlier and waking at a regular time.
Just remember, in order to eat you need to cook first. In the same way, a healthy winter body requires support and preparation through the autumn!!