In Chinese Medicine, Autumn is associated with the Lungs (LU) and Colon (CO) organ, with the emotion of grief and the element of Metal (or air). After summer (maximum expansion) our energy starts to move in an inwardly direction. The CO has the primary function of letting go, eliminating waste (unnecessary or toxic) from our bodies as well as absorbing water. The primary function of the LU is to take in fresh air as well as eliminating Carbon Dioxide. The LU and CO work together as a team. The ability of the LU to take in, is dependent on the ability of the CO to let go.
The energy of Autumn particularly supports the letting go of the waste and stale in our lives, leaving us more open to take in the pure and the “new”. It helps us to eliminate what we no longer need. Nature beautifully demonstrates us this concepts with the trees letting go of the old leaves, which in turns becomes the nourishment for the new growth.
Through our lives we all experience loss, separation, and “letting go,” and we appropriately feel grief at those times. The grieving process reminds us (and teach us) that everything comes and goes, like the Qi of the air that in order to enters it also must exit. Grief helps us to understand the value of cultivating the ability of letting go of what is no longer needed in our lives, or no longer possible to hold on to. When the LU/CO Metal energy is blocked or imbalanced within us, our ability to express grief also becomes imbalanced. We might be unable to express our grief, or our grief may be excessive and ongoing.
The LU also control the circulation of the Wei-Qi on the surface between the skin and muscles. Wei-Qi is the defensive Qi that protects us from the invasion of colds and flu. A weakness in the lungs can lead to a weakness in the Wei-Qi.
What we eat also greatly affects the health of our lungs as well as everything else. Eating excess cold and raw foods, ideal during the summer heat, can lead to an internal “dampness environment” which can produce “phlegm”. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, cream, and butter can also create Dampness, while moderate amounts of pungent foods like garlic, wasabi, onions, ginger, horseradish, and mustard are beneficial to the lungs.
When Lu and Co are imbalanced, instead of feeling spontaneous, at ease, inspired and going with the flow, we might feel depressed, negative, stubborn or unable to “let go”. Of course more obvious symptoms of Lu and Co imbalances are constipation, coughs, and susceptibility to colds and flues.
What you can do to make the most of the Autumn energy
- Take time each day to practice your breathing. Remember, in order to breath in with ease, focus first on the breath out …. on letting go of the breath and everything else you no longer need.
- Go through your wardrobe, desk, garage, pantry, office – any cluttered storage area and here too let go of what you no longer need.
- As Nature moves into a period of rest, be cautious not to overwork. Now is the time to switch to “economy” mode. Especially those of us in the “autumn of our lives” must be wise with the use of our energy and protect from the sudden weather changes of this season.
- Reflect with curiosity on your mental states and current attitudes and notice how they might change as the seasons change, including the seasons in our lives. Be gentle with yourself.
- We can also help ourselves by learning about the nature of seasons and acting harmoniously and accordingly. In the season of autumn, the Metal element is at its peak and particularly responsive to Acupuncture treatment.