The five elements-Earth, Metal, Wind, Water, Fire-and their relationship to the body are a fundamental concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Each element corresponds with a season, organ system and emotion in the body.
Now that Summer is drawing to a close, days are shorter and nights are cooler. The Fire element/heart, also known as the ultimate yang, moves consciously into the yin. In Autumn, we pay close attention to purging, hydrating, and nurturing our minds and bodies.
The hot Summer weather with so many outdoor activities is now changing into the drier Autumn season, corresponding to Metal/lungs and large intestines. They require constant fluid, so it is essential that you drink more water to keep them from damage.
Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. Stay away from the raw food and salads that you have been enjoying during the heat of the summer and move to more warm cooked foods. Fill your plate with winter squash, pumpkin, kale and broccoli instead. These vegetables contain important fluids to nourish your body in the Fall season. Walnuts and hemp seeds are another source for good health, since nuts and seeds also contribute to the maintenance and balance of your body at this time. Stew and soups are recommended to support the digestive system, as their long cooking times are warming, making the foods easier to digest. Also, when you cook foods longer their nourishment travels deeper in the body.
The energies of Autumn are associated with introspection and more serious matters. Turn your attention to setting limits and protecting boundaries. Organize yourself by completing projects and starting new ones. Cultivate both mind and body in this season.
This is the time to be mindful.
The energetic quality of the season is grief and anything that has been ‘on our chest’ (lungs), it’s time to let go of. Let go of the things in your life that no longer serve you. Like leaves that die and fall from trees, some friendships and relationships that are at a standstill need to be examined. It is important to be honest with yourself at this time, although it may be difficult. When you discard negative energies, you open your spirit to welcome in positive energies. Of course, there is grief whenever things change. Transition is not easy. For harmony to remain, this sort of loss is inevitable. It is a time for self-nurture and introspective thoughts. Even if things seem out of your control, just making a small change works toward keeping negativity out of your life. Be sure to keep your body hydrated and nourished. Adapting to change is much easier if your body is in alignment with your mind.
Clean your home and work space of unnecessary things. Drop off a box or two at your local Goodwill or charity shop. Purging is very important in this season for your mental health and well-being. It feels good to breathe in fresh air. Strengthen your lungs with deep breathing to help memory, energy levels and immune system. Flood your cells with oxygen. Feel the beauty of change.
Open your arms to embrace the gifts of Autumn.
Autumn Associations in Chinese Medicine:
Element – Metal
Yin Organ – Lungs
Yang Organ – Large Intestine
Emotion – Grief / Sadness
Climate – Dryness
Stage of Development – Harvest
Flavour – Pungent
Colour – White
Sense Organs – Nose
Tissues – Skin
Sound – Crying
Healing Sound – sssssssssss
Beneficial Foods to Eat in Autumn:
Garlic * Sweet potato * Onions * Carrots * Turnips * Parsnips * Radishes * Beets * Potatoes * Yams * Sweet potatoe * Ginger * Onion * Cabbage * Pears * Walnuts * Black pepper * Grains * Chili * Cinnamon * Cardamon * Leeks * Miso * Navy Beans * Pumpkin * Almonds * Asparagus * Broccoli * Cucumber * Celery * Mustard Greens * Apricot * Banana * Eggs * Sourdough Bread * Sauerkraut * Olives * Pickles * Vinegar * Cheese * Grapefruit * Apples * Plums * Grapes
If you are interested in reading more about eating for the seasons, one of the best books about TCM nutrition is Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.