With a flashy show of painted leaves, it is official, fall has arrived! With it comes a deep breath of crisp fresh air and an exciting inspiration from nature. Fall beckons us outdoors, enlivens our senses, and encourages introspection and reflection. It is a time to watch Mother Nature at her best.
Just as trees lose their leaves, fall reminds us to identify the essentials in life and let go of all the rest.
It is a time of preparation and storage for the winter ahead — a dramatic lesson for us all. Fall is a family time. We come together in the pumpkin patch, rake the leaves, and prepare for hibernation. The preparation is a bustle of activity, just watch the squirrels! Projects are at their maximum. It can feel like there is not enough time to do everything that needs to get done and still spend quality time with those we love. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Fall is associated with the Metal element, which is related to the Lungs. When we straighten our bodies and open up our chest, we make more room for the lungs and for deep, healthy breaths. The Lungs are called the “tender organ” because we bring in air from the outside; this also exposes us to pathogens (viruses and bacteria). The skin is said to create a barrier to protect us from the outside environment. We call this “wei qi”. The Lungs are said to “open to” or “express” in the health of the skin. The skin is a barrier to the outside, but also reflects our internal health. In TCM, asthma and eczema have a direct relationship to the Lungs. Bringing awareness to the surface of our body and focusing on our breath are good ways to bring balance and harmony to our bodies and help direct our energy. I practice a few exercises to continuously bring myself back to the present. I use my breath, my senses, and my posture. When my energy is low, or I am wrapped up in thought, I do a full body scan and “check in”. Throughout the day, I’ll have moments where I catch myself slouching, or holding my shoulders up. I consciously think of a string attached to my head, lengthening my body. Instantly, I sit up straighter and relax my shoulders. When I bring my attention to my lower body, my pelvis, legs and feet, I focus on slow, deep belly breaths. I focus inward and feel my breath throughout my body. One of my favorite practices is focusing on my senses. What do I see, smell, hear, feel, and sometimes, taste? Everything becomes technicolor clear. Days can pass quickly, but we can slow them down.
One moment of stillness in a busy day can change how you feel.
Meditation and breath are a part of TCM and a great way to take care of yourself. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is another aspect. An acupuncture treatment is a great way to reset your system and drop into a place of deep relaxation. It allows you to approach your life from a place of stability. As we move into cold and flu season, it is also an excellent way to boost the immune system. Acupuncture has the effect of bringing the body to homeostasis (middle ground), it helps regulate stress hormones, decrease depression and anxiety, and improve sleep.
TCM has an extensive pharmacopoeia of medicinal herbs to help regulate stress responses and increase the immune system. It is a sophisticated tradition of prescribing intricate formulas with a number of herbs that work synergistically to treat the individual in a precise and personalized way. As a TCM practitioner, it is my strong recommendation to seek the help of a licensed practitioner to prescribe your herbal formula. Herbs are like paint. Red represents one herb; blue is another. Together, they make purple and have a different effect. Rely on an experienced practitioner to make you a formula. That being said, there are a few simple immune-promoting tips you can find in your kitchen. Adding ginger and cinnamon to your daily routine in a tea or in food, is an excellent way to keep your digestion flowing and your “defensive, wei qi”, alert and active; they are also warming herbs which may help you stay warmer during the Fall and Winter.
Optimal health and vitality comes from nourishing life.
Here are a few more recommendations:
– Always listen to your body and know when to take it easy. – Practice moderate exercise to keep the blood moving. – Dress in layers. The weather in Colorado changes quickly and dramatically. The Chinese tradition is to wear a scarf to cover your neck and stay warm. This helps to keep a chill from getting on your skin. – The best immune tonic: SLEEP! Seven to nine hours of rest, and in bed before eleven will ensure restoration.
At the Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder, Inc., we practice collaborative care. We look forward to helping you achieve your health care goals.
Summer is already better, but the best is autumn. It is mature, reasonable and serious, it glows moderately and not frivolously… It cools down, clears up, makes you reasonable… -Valentin
Autumn came, with wind and gold. -?
Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale. -Lauren DeStefano, Wither
by Noah Goldstein, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M.