Some people say that autumn begins on March 1st, other say it begins with the equinox on March 21st. I personally love to celebrate the equinox as this is a time when our days and nights are of equal length. Yin and yang are in perfect balance following the yang outward energy of summer and before the yin inward energy of winter. This is a time where we can bring into balance our willingness to receive and our ability to let go as we breathe in and breathe out.
If you watch nature you will observe that Autumn doesn’t begin on any specific day. It glides in gently as the morning air becomes crisper and the leaves turn from greens to reds and golds and browns and then let go for their return to the earth. I have been watching the maple tree in my garden and its colours have been slowly changing through February, as the weather cools, and becoming more vibrant through March. Each leaf changing at it’s own rate and letting go when the time is right for it.
In Chinese medicine they say that autumn corresponds with the energy of the lungs and the large intestine. This correspondence makes perfect sense as these organs receive the gifts of oxygen and nutrients as well as supporting the body’s process of letting go of what we no longer need, as we breathe out and poop out the waste products of our metabolism.
I was doing my qigong practice this morning and we were focusing on the meridians of our lungs (inner arms) and our large intestine (outer arms). We were also focussing on our breath and observing our chests expand and contract, and our bellies fill and empty as our diaphragms were engaged. With each breath and movement, as well as each pause between breath and movement, I started to contemplate all sorts of other correspondences.
Life begins with an in breath the moment we are born, which is followed by the cry of an outbreath as we realise that life outside the womb is going to be very different and potentially quite challenging.
Spring is like an in breath of new life after the pause of winter. While our lungs are filled with air we can enjoy the energy of summer. With the out breath of Autumn we can let go of all that no longer serves us before the long pause of winter.
I find it interesting that it is the crispness of the morning air that signals autumn’s return since in the Chinese medicine body clock the time of the Lungs is 3-5am and the time of the large intestine is 5-7am. If you tend to wake early but don’t want to get out of bed then sit up, pop a shawl around your shoulders, and meditate as this is an ideal time to focus on your breath. Once you get up and start moving, perhaps with a few qigong or yoga stretches, you may find your bowels will want to move too.
Autumn is the best time to work on supporting your immune system before the winter cold and flu season.
Stress is well known to weaken your immunity and your breath plays an important role in your nervous system. Short shallow breaths keep you in a state of flight and fight, while long slow deep belly breaths move you into rest and digest. Stop now and take a long slow deep belly breath, or ten (it only takes 2 minutes), and notice the shift as you to let go of some of the stress you carry. Acupuncture can also help with stress management.
Your nose, your sinuses and your airways are endowed with many different types of immune cells that induce a potent immune response. This is an important reason to work on breathing through your nose, rather than mouth breathing, to keep your immunity strong this winter. If your sinuses give you problems, then this is the time to address that too and Chinese medicine can help.
Long slow deep belly breaths also engage your diaphragm which calms and massages your digestive system and helps your bowels to move better. Your large intestine and microbiome play a critical roll in your immune system so keeping your bowels moving daily help keep your immunity strong.
If you are having trouble with bowel movements then it is important that you are hydrated by drinking enough good quality water. Squatting is also a great help. By squatting, with the help of a stool, the hip flexion straightens the kink in the lower part of your colon and waste passes more easily.
Swimming is a great exercise for your Lungs both from a breathing perspective and because of how you move your arms and stimulate your lung meridians. If you don’t enjoy swimming, you can still pretend you are doing breaststroke by breathing in as you stretch your arms to the sides and open your chest and breathing out as you bring your arms back around. Focus on stretching your thumb (lung) and index finger (Large Intestine meridian) with each stroke.
Breathing is essential to life. They say you can only survive 3 minutes (on average) without breathing. But breathing is much more than just supplying your body with oxygen. It impacts your nervous system, your immune system, your digestive system and much more. So stop and give yourself time to breathe in a conscious and deliberate way and receive the gifts of autumn. Let go of what is not longer working in your life and make room for new and exciting things to come in.
If you feel you would like help with managing your stress, supporting your immunity, or addressing lung or large intestine issues then book an appointment today as acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help.
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, Qigong and Wholefood counselling). Tania is an AHPRA registered practitioner of Chinese Medicine located in Katoomba, NSW and has spent 6 years lecturing at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.
The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Remember that you are responsible for your own health and safety at all times.