Our lives are cushioned from the true nature of the seasons, we live in heated, insulated homes, eat unseasonal foods grown in far off lands and flick on light switches to brighten the gloom. This modern lifestyle is far easier than the lives of our ancestors, but the price we pay is that it is too easy to miss out on the magic of seasonal energies that can encourage us to live a healthier, more contented life. To help counteract this, it is good for us to spend time outdoors in all seasons; when we do this regularly we can get a good sense of the energy of a season by looking around to see what is happening out in the natural world.
As we move into autumn, you may have become aware of the gentle undercurrent of the season, a sense of reflection and an air of quiet melancholy. All aspects of life should reflect a balance of yang and yin energies, the cycle of the breath of life has a yang aspect (inhalation) which is balanced with a yin aspect (exhalation).
We need both of these aspects of the breath to survive; we need to inhale as much as we need to exhale, we need day as much as we need night or the planet would not survive, we need time to be busy and we need time to rest in order to feel fulfilled. Modern life has far too much emphasis on the yang, we want to eat summer foods all year round, we want to be able to shop day and night and for there to be permanent economic growth! Society puts too much pressure on us to be permanently busy, eternally happy, which is why for so many people the air of melancholy that accompanies autumn feels so unwelcome but it is a really good reminder that a healthy life requires a balance of yin and yang. Autumn is a season that heralds the decline of yang energy and the rise of yin energy; in the breath of the seasons, it is the beginning of the exhale. The autumn is a time to quietly contemplate, to reassess and reorganise and a time to let go.
To help support yourself through the autumn you could try some of the following ideas:
Support your system through our diet; in the autumn we should eat less raw or cold foods and eat more warm, cooked foods such as porridge, roasted vegetables, homemade soups, stews and curries.
Go for a walk in the woods, feel the sense of peace that comes with the autumn, notice the sense of spaciousness that is created by the branches as they become more bare; notice the smell of autumnal woodland, the fallen leaves, the mixture of dryness and dampness.
If you feel sadness, let yourself cry rather than bottle it up; savour the sense of release and relief you feel afterwards and be aware of how cleansing it can be to release grief at this time of year.
Have a clear out, or a declutter – whether on a small scale or a large scale; have confidence in your decisions about what to throw out and be clear about what you are keeping and why; take pleasure in the space and orderliness you create.
In autumn the trees draw their energy inwards and downwards as toxins are moved out to the leaves; as a result, the shedding of leaves is a positive, detoxifying process that sets the tree up to survive the winter and enables it to thrive in the coming spring. We are also letting go, letting go of the pleasures of summer, the warm evenings, the bright, warm sunshine and the social whirl of summer. For some of us the autumnal air of melancholy also brings to mind other thoughts and emotions; losses and regrets from the past may feel uncomfortably fresh again. If you have experienced such a reawakening of loss, this would be a good time to seek support from an acupuncturist; the energy of the season can be used to help you to process unresolved emotions more successfully so you can move through the winter with a sense of peace and balance towards the coming spring.