This year the Autumn Equinox falls on March 21st. This is the date on which there are an equal number of hours of daylight and darkness. After this the nights will start to get longer until we reach the longest night on the Winter solstice.
As the nights become longer issues with sleep can become highlighted for some people. World Sleep Day is held annually on the third Friday in March. In 2014 it is all about ‘Restful Sleep, Easy Breathing, and Healthy Body’. This slogan is quite apt for this time of year as in Chinese medicine autumn corresponds with your Lung energy. When you are breathing easily and deeply you switch off your fight and flight response to life and can relax enough to sleep deeply. When you have a restful night’s sleep you replenish the energy you need to face the day, your immune system will be strong and you will have a healthy body. If you have trouble with any of these areas, then consider a course of acupuncture to help put you back on track.
A common occurrence I often see in clinic in autumn is the 4am wake up. This tends to occur due to the fact that not only do the lungs correspond with autumn in Chinese medicine but they also correspond with the time period of 3am to 5am. To stay asleep at this time means you need to have nourished your yin, your spiritual side as much as your yang, your mental and physical side. If you do find yourself waking up too early then connect with your breath in meditation and start the day in your body rather than in your head. Then book yourself in for some acupuncture to help you sleep more peacefully.
Autumn not only corresponds with the Lungs but also with the Large intestine in Chinese medicine, both are important organs of elimination. At this time nature is transforming from the lush greens of summer to the beautiful reds and golds of autumn, and the trees are losing their leaves. So as you synchronise yourself to the flow of nature it is timely for you to spend more time indoors and to turn within to determine what it is you now need to let go of, physically and emotionally, in order to create space for new ideas that can then germinate through winter and blossom in spring.
Deep, rhythmic belly breathing is a great way of letting things go. Make time each morning to inhale the crisp, fresh autumn air and feel yourself inspired and purified, ready to breathe in whatever exciting future you can envision. Make time equally to exhale the old, the negative and any impurity and pain from your body, mind and spirit as you accept and let go of the past. Your breath is the best way you have to regulate your autonomic nervous system which controls the conditions inside your body. When you are breathing deeply into your belly you activate the parasympathetic nervous system or the rest and digest system. However, when you are in a state of flight and fight, the sympathetic nervous system, you tend to breath with short shallow breaths. By changing the rhythm and nature of your breath your can move out of flight and fight and relax into the flow of life.
To support the energy of letting go this is a perfect time to go through your cupboards, desk, garage, or any cluttered area, and throw out, donate or sell what you no longer need. This is also a perfect time to go within and have a look at your attitudes, perspectives, prejudices or resentments and attempt to resolve your old issues and let them go too.
Autumn is the season, in Chinese medicine, when you need to focus on strengthening your lung energy. This helps to support your immune system so you can more easily let go of any colds and flu that come your way. When your lung energy is strong you will have more energy to embrace change and can more easily live in the now. When lung energy declines your immunity breaks down, you become tired and short of breath. Remember that short shallow breaths put you into as state of flight and flight and in this state you tend to live in the past and fear the future. You can help nourish your lungs with deep conscious breaths, swimming and skin brushing (as the lungs rule the skin). While the emotions of sadness, grief and disappointment tend to drain the lung energy values such as integrity and righteousness replenish the lungs, it’s all about being fully present and that is where the importance of the breath once again comes in to play. As the weather cools down you can also nourish yourself by warming up your diet.
So if you feel you need some support to better nourish your lungs and let go of the troubles you are having with sleep, stress or immunity then call your local practitioner and make an appointment today.
Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.
For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Wholefood counselling). Tania is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (AHPRA registered) in Kingsford and is a Contract Academic at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.