In the Five Phase Theory, autumn is a time of waning yang and increasing yin. It is a time to slow down and turn inward for the approaching winter.
This season supports us in letting go of old ways. Like nature releasing summer leaves and seeds to return to the earth, we can embrace this time for our own enrichment.
Autumn leads us back to our essence as we let go of what we no longer need. This reveals what is most precious in our lives and enhances our receptivity to the possibility of new ways of thinking, seeing and living.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.”
– Tao Te Ching
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the attributes corresponding to the autumn season are the lung organ, the color white, the metal (or air) element and the emotion of grief. Grief is the challenging, often called negative, emotion of the autumn season. During this time we can harmonize and resolve grief with courage and drawing on our inner strength.
Part of being human is to experience loss and separation. Grief and the symbolism of the metal element grant us the opportunity to find deep inner strength, as if we are mining precious gold from deep in the earth.
This is an ideal time to remove clutter from our surroundings and minds, such as fear, anger, prejudice, envy and resentment. It can be liberating to let go of ‘things’ thus releasing old thoughts and habits that have come to their own autumn.
Autumn is the time to maintain and build qi by eating locally grown foods that ripen now such as pumpkins, winter squash, root vegetables, kidney beans, apples, pears, persimmons and pomegranates. Include honey, cinnamon and ginger to warm the body internally. Now is the time to transition away from salads and other raw foods. Warm dishes will help support our inner fire.
With autumn comes a change of the yin and yang energy. We can honor and embrace this change by maintaining our qigong practice, de-cluttering our outer and inner world and nourishing ourselves with warm foods. These mindful actions empower us in staying balanced and harmonized with this season.