Fall has returned! In this season, nature lets go of its abundant creation of the past year in a grand final display. Leaves turn brilliant colors and drop back to the earth, enriching it to promote (nourish) the coming growth. In autumn, we can learn more about ourselves because, after a harvest, everything is bare. Autumn marks the end of the growing season, so it becomes a natural turning inward. Outer-directed energy falls away to be replaced by reflection and then creation.
Nature instructs us about the cycle of creation and letting go: Trees in autumn don’t stubbornly hold onto their leaves because they might need to wear them next year. Yet how many of us defy the cycle and hold onto what we’ve produced or collected – those decayed leaves in the form of old negativity, outdated attitudes, or fears? How can we hope for a healthy harvest next year unless we release the old, rest and start fresh with renewed focus?
The lesson of this season, more than any other, tells us to release the waste, the old, and the stale aspects of our lives in order to uncover all that is meaningful and fresh.
We all have feelings and experiences that make us think, “I wish this moment could last forever”. It is so human to want to hold on to special times and we often structure our lives hoping to create a reality in which that good feeling endures. But our expectations and preconceived notions of what we SHOULD feel, what we SHOULD need, what we SHOULD receive also get us into trouble. We also carry assumptions about what a friend, partner, son, teacher, or parent SHOULD be. Why does this cause trouble?? It doesn’t allow reality to exist. Most of the times our ideas of what people SHOULD be very rarely coincides with the ways they actually behave or express themselves. Autumn is the season that teaches us to let go. Try dropping a few of those old ideas (like leaves) and see how much lighter you feel. This will also allow space for new ideas and growth.
Chinese Medicine has some nutrition ideas to help you and your family enjoy a healthy fall season.
Foods – Eat more cooked and fewer raw foods. Sour, astringent foods like lemon, lime, pickle, vitamin C, seaweed, and sourdough bread can all benefit your health. Enjoy spicy/pungent foods like onion, garlic, radish, horseradish, and cabbage. Hearty concentrated foods like root vegetables, soy products and barley are also foods for Fall. Pumpkin ( pumpkin soup from the Chopra Center) , winter squash ( great recipe for ginger squash soup), and sweet potato are all great choices. Almonds, apples, and pears (especially Asian apple pears) are beneficial to the respiratory system.
Herbs – Astragalus is an herb that is often used to boost immunity and aid resistance to illness by increasing phagocytosis and your white blood cell count. Chinese research has shown it to have a protective effect against the common cold when taken consistently for two to eight weeks. Astragalus works best as a long-term preventive measure. It is best to take it as a tea through the cold and flu season to enhance immunity and prevent illness. For more information on Astragalus check my previous post here.
Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at www.tcm007.com.
*Image of “lemon” via Shutterstock