As we move from summer to autumn, we move from the growth cycle to the slower more dormant time of the year. In Chinese medicine, autumn is a time to harvest our energy and take time to pause and honor our inherent need to slow down and be still. It’s counter intuitive as our busy lives encourage us to become disconnected from our nature as we approach back to school and the lead up to the holiday season for many businesses.
Not surprising we lose sight of the intuitive ‘feeling’ parts of ourselves that help us stay present and grounded. I continually experience this. The good news is I have discovered activities that are do-able and impactful and help me live my life in a more positive meaningful way. So, what are these activities to honor the harvest season and clear out the old and welcome in the new?
Clean out the wardrobe
In Chinese Medicine the season of autumn is associated with the element of metal, which governs things like organization, setting limits, and protecting boundaries. It's a good time to finish projects that you began in spring and summer. Of course, it's also the perfect time to begin more introspective, indoor projects. With that in mind, I am considering clearing out old clothes and donating them to Good Will. Getting rid of clothes I haven't worn in over year will help me reduce my clutter in my wardrobe and also in my mind, so to speak. Here’s a simple 5 step plan to organize your closet.
It’s also a good time to reflect on personal relationships and identify the ones that are causing us friction. Then ask ourselves do we need to set a limit or protect our boundaries. Is there a relationship that has not been serving you? Do you feel you’ve been giving too much and it’s tiring you? Is it time to see if setting a boundary with that person will create more ease for you? I’ve decided to give a dear friend the space she needs to process some negative news that I, sadly, had to deliver. Unfortunately she’s not yet ready to talk about it so I am choosing to love her from afar.
Autumnal beauty rituals I recommend are using a loofah to exfoliate the skin on your body to shed the summer skin and welcome the healthiest and smoothest skin possible for the upcoming season. Another treat is incorporating aromatherapy oils, such as lavender, cedarwood (smell it first to see you like it!) or rosewood into your favorite moisturizer and massaging your body and soles of your feet. In my experience, the best grounding oils come from wood and trees- the energy of trees being so perfect for grounding. For more ideas, go to Banyan Botanicals.
Eat grounding foods
The best grounding foods to eat, as recommended by nutritionists are root vegetables which are great for stabilizing energy because they grow underground. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, parsnips, turnips, garlic, radishes, rutabagas, and ginger are all ideal examples of root vegetables that can be cooked up in warm dishes throughout the autumn season. I like to make my own ‘grounding tea’ by boiling a large pot of water and adding ginger, cloves and a pinch of turmeric (be careful as it stains things it comes in contact with). Using a large spoon to fill a commuter bottle and sipping it throughout the day is great way to self-care. Of course, adding honey to sweeten. The Joyful Belly has some good recipes.
Let go through yin yoga
Doing a yin yoga practice can be therapeutic in helping you to drop more inside your body, get more in touch with your intuitive nature and to let go of anxiety, depression and sadness. Poses are held for several minutes to lubricate the connective tissues allowing emotions to come to the surface. We also stimulate the meridian channels of the body, rivers of energy that live within our fascia to move vital energy through the body with more integrity. When the energy flows, we feel harmony in our physical organs, emotional and mind states.
Chinese medicine also teaches us the lung and large intestine are the internal organs related to autumn. It’s the opportune time to look at what we can let go of (large intestines) and take in what we need (lungs). Taking in and releasing what our bodies don't need can help eliminate toxins and support us in feeling more at ease and content.
In my upcoming classes in September and October and my upcoming workshop ‘Balancing the Seasonal Body for Autumn’ on Sunday 8 September at Yoga Tree Valencia in SF, we’ll be doing exactly this. Letting go of what needs to be released and setting intention for what wants to be reaped on the eve of this season of harvest. Join me?