Embracing Autumn Naturally: Tips From Eastern Traditions
Nov 06, 2011 11:02AM
By Susan Lieberman, BSN, MBA
The full bloom of the summer is over—vacations at the shore are but a memory, kids are back to school, and summer work hours are finished. Now that it’s autumn, the leaves have turned color and fallen, the days have become shorter, and the temperatures have dropped. How does this change in season affect us and the way we live, work, play and feel? How can we live in harmony with the natural cycle of the seasons and fit it into our reality?
The time-honored traditions of Eastern Healing Arts teach us that fall is about “letting go,” just as the trees release their leaves, and the earth yields its harvest. We, too, can learn from this season to “let go” of the old and make room for the new: We can start by letting go of the waste in our lives that hasn’t been working for us and focusing on what does work—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. By embracing Eastern traditions, this time of year can bring renewal to our bodies, our minds, and our overall health once we’ve learned to live naturally within the season.
Breathe In, Let Go: Healing the Lungs and Large Intestine
In Eastern philosophy, each season has an organ system associated with it. Fall is the time of the lungs and large intestine.
Our lungs are the essential organs for respiration, transporting oxygen in the air made by the trees into our bloodstream to nourish our cells, and then removing the cellular carbon dioxide waste via the bloodstream back into the air for use by the trees. The lungs and respiratory tract are also important in helping us maintain our body’s natural immunity against infection in the external environment by producing protective secretions such as mucus. So, when the lungs don’t function properly, we experience shortness of breath, coughs, nasal congestion, bronchitis, sore throats, and other upper respiratory ailments. To help our lungs function harmoniously, we can start on a basic energetic level through simple, effective acupressure techniques. Jin Shin Jyutsu®, a gentle form of Japanese acupressure, helps harmonize the lungs and immune system. The following hand positions can be held for at least two to three minutes. They act like a “natural antibiotic” to clear the chest and keep you healthy during the changing season
- For the Right Side of the Body: Place your left hand like a coat hanger over your right shoulder and simultaneously place your right hand on your right groin.
- For the Left Side of the Body: Place your right hand like a coat hanger over your left shoulder and simultaneously place your left hand on your left groin.
- Lightly press/touch each side of the breastbone at the level of the nipples—the left side with the left hand and the right side with the right hand simultaneously.
Traditional Chinese Medicine also offers some wonderful acupressure techniques to help the lungs:
- Lightly press/touch the outside (radial) portion of the thumb at the nail corner (Lung 11).
- Lightly press/touch the outer portion of the chest, three finger widths below the outer (lateral) portion of the collarbone (Lung 1).
- Lightly press/touch the palm side of the hand in the center of the pad at the base of the thumb (Lung 10).
The large intestine helps detoxify the body by “letting go” of waste through feces and regulates water, electrolyte and bacterial balance. It also absorbs some essential vitamins, such as vitamins B and K made by the bacteria in the colon. When the large intestine fails to function properly, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, headaches, back pain, and even allergies can result. Again, easily applied Jin Shin Jyutsu® techniques work on an energetic level to keep the large intestine working at an optimal level.
ü Lightly press/hold the lateral (outside) portion of the back of the left knee with the left hand to help with constipation.
ü Lightly press/hold the lateral (outside) portion of the back of the right knee with the right hand to help with diarrhea.
A Traditional Chinese Medicine acupressure point also helps:
- Lightly press/hold the webbing between the thumb and the index fingers at the highest spot when these two fingers are brought together (Large Intestine 4). It’s the “get out” or “great eliminator” spot that can also help relieve headaches and toothaches. It is advised that pregnant women should not use this acupressure point, since it may stimulate premature labor.
Mind Over Matter
In Eastern philosophy, fall is associated with the element metal. Metals such as gold, silver, minerals, and other trace elements give value to the earth and also provide a sense of security and self-esteem. The lungs and large intestine are also associated with the emotions of sadness, grief, negativity and insecurity in Eastern philosophy, which explains why some of us may feel particularly sad when summer ends and temperatures drop. When these organ systems are in balance, we can more easily release our “old” habits and become “receptive” to new experiences and ways of living. So, fall is a time to look inside and rid ourselves of what doesn’t work for us. We can “clean house” and “let go” of emotions, thoughts and things that hold us back from living our lives to the fullest.
Here are some Jin Shin Jyutsu® techniques to help balance the emotions of sadness and grief:
- Hold left ring finger with right hand.
- Hold right ring finger with left hand.
You can do these holds anytime, anywhere, and for as long as you want, whether you’re at work, home or play.
Eating produce in season is the best way to nourish our bodies. In Eastern philosophy, the color white is associated with fall, and spicy flavors are recommended. And since leaves turn an assortment of colors during autumn, we can obtain the maximum benefit from foods whose colors match those changing hues. Suggested food include grains such as mochi (Japanese rice cakes) and brown rice; white beans; vegetables including mustard and turnip greens, onions, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, rutabagas, parsnips, squash, and pumpkins; fruits such as bananas, apples, and pears; fish such as halibut, sole, flounder, haddock, and cod; and herbs such as thyme, ginger root, horseradish, fennel, dill, basil, and cayenne.
Autumn Wellness Activities
In keeping with the need to “let go” and move on during this season, activities such as yoga and meditation will help ease you into autumn physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And taking care of yourself as well as your family can be achieved by entrusting your health to a wellness professional, who can help you establish a balanced and realistic plan for your individual needs and lifestyle. Visit your local wellness center and begin the road to “letting go” and finding out what really works for you.
Susan Lieberman, BSN, MBA, graduated from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, College of Nursing, and Baruch College’s Healthcare Administration program. She is also a certified Jin Shin Jyutsu® practitioner and co-founder of the Elila Center for Natural Healing in Berkeley Heights, NJ. Visit ElilaCenter.com to learn more about its integrated wellness services.