Last year we discussed the importance of building up your immunity and Qi when Autumn begins and Summer wains (you can read more on that here.) In Chinese philosophy we are also affected by seasonal change emotionally; a deeper understanding of this can help us live more harmoniously with the seasons.
It is the time of year that we go from the relaxed attitudes of summer to the more introspective emotions of Autumn. Chinese medicine associates Autumn with the Lung energetic and Metal element. Lung function is heightened during the Autumn months and is responsible for both nourishment and the notion of letting go as it draws clean fresh air into the body and then releases with the out breath.
The inherent nature of Lung Qi is one of clarity providing the ability to discern right from wrong. Its functional qualities are firstly respiration, inhaling heavenly Qi (oxygen) vitalising the body and exhaling, releasing pathogens. Its second function is to descend energy downwards to the lower part of the body, connecting to the Large Intestine and encouraging elimination of waste and toxins. Efficient functioning of the Lung and Large Intestine is related to the bodies defense Qi, the ability to create healthy boundaries both from an immune perspective and an emotional perspective. Clear personal boundaries enable us to form healthy open relationships with others. They provide us with the flexibility to to be able to say “yes that is good” or “no I don’t like that” and the ability to be able to communicate it clearly.
The Lung is associated with self esteem, it processes feelings of grief, vulnerability, insecurity and morality/ injustice. It houses the part of our spirit that contains the innate knowledge of living in this world, enjoying the here and now. It is normal in Autumn to be gathering the fruits of summer, retreating indoors and creating a cosy store house for the coming winter. When there is an imbalance in the Lung spirit it can manifest as selfishness, a desire to withdraw from society, loneliness and unhappiness.
Emotions are a normal part of life, feeling the depth of each emotion is healthy, important and unique to each individual. With healthy Lung function feelings of grief and sadness are able to be processed in an appropriate way and time. We can let go and forgive or accept. The concern is when these emotions are repressed or go unresolved for a long period creating stagnation of Lung Qi resulting in the Lung to loose it’s clear crisp nature. It is through this pathway in Chinese medicine that emotions can have an enormous affect on the physical body. Stagnation of Lung Qi results in poor immunity, lack of vitality, depression, constipation, skin and respiratory conditions. Acupuncture, herbal remedies and massage treatments can help to move stagnation in the body, strengthen Lung function and assist in the process of letting go.
Many of us feel melancholy or wistful as we say goodbye to Summer and it’s long, warm carefree days. It is a good time to tie up loose ends and get ready to throw yourself into new projects and to practice letting go. Maybe try some of the steps in the 30-Day Minimalism Challenge: clean out your cupboards or clean out some digital space! These actions can be very freeing and are in harmony with the emotions of Autumn and the function of letting go.
Other ways of supporting Lung Qi during the Autumn months include doing light exercise such as yoga or swimming, taking a brisk walk or simply breathing deeply from the diaphragm. Wearing a scarf and/or a jacket protects the Lung externally while eating light nourishing foods provides support internally. Pears are especially good for nourishing the Lung, try this Upside Down Pear and Ginger Cake Recipe, just in time for Mothers Day!