I’ve just spent the last few weeks pickling carrots, digging potatoes, collecting firewood, and closing our cabin for the summer. According to the Five Elements of Chinese Medicine, in the Northern Hemisphere, we are in the Metal Element of Autumn. This is the season of cleansing and harvest–harvesting crops, garden produce, and ideas. Now we evaluate the seeds we planted in the spring to determine which seeds are keepers and which seeds we can toss.

Autumn is also the time to return to routine. As we evaluate our crops, we can add in activities and practices that will serve us better this coming year, and cleanse ourselves of those that no longer serve. A normal part of growth is to refine and re-calibrate the activities and people we invest in. All these activities are related to the reflective quality of the Metal Element.

Each Element has organs and organ systems (meridians) associated with it. The breathing system and the large intestine are the organ systems of Metal. Both of these systems are involved in the processes of cleansing, releasing and letting go, much like the trees releasing their leaves. Can you see the theme here?

We can use this ancient knowledge to help us on a daily basis.

The lungs, skin, sinuses, throat, immune system, and large intestine are all on-duty and prevalent during the fall season. As a result, there are more chest infections and colds in the fall and asthma and skin rashes are more prevalent.

Autumn air is characteristically dry, much like the metal element, and windy. Dryness can make the body susceptible to viruses. This dry air can be felt by the lungs, skin, and large intestine and may manifest as chapped lips, constipation, dry skin, dry cough, stuffy nose, eczema, skin rash, asthma, sore throat, itchy scalp, and dry mouth.

Here are a few suggestions to support you during the fall season.
  1. Practice deep breathing. Often we don’t send our breath deep into the belly. Deep breathing is cleansing. It’s like opening the windows and cleaning out old stale air and replacing it with fresh air that is full of energy and life! Deep breaths a few times a day will increase your energy and support your lungs and immune system. Here is an Energy Breathing Guide you can download to help you learn a specific energy breathing technique that will help to balance the body’s energy quickly. Try doing this outside in nature.
  2. Add in Qigong Movements each day. From Spring Forest Qigong, the exercises Breathing of the Universe and Connecting to Your Body’s Energy support the breathing, skin, and large intestine systems. To try Breathing of the Universe, you can sample it here. Try doing these outside in nature.
  3. Cupping. Make your hand into a curved cup shape. Hold out your arm, palm up and cup the insides of the arms from shoulder to wrist (downwards) a few times. This supports the breathing system including the sinuses and skin. Turn your arm over and cup the back side of the arm from wrist to shoulder. This supports your large intestine. Also cupping below the collarbones outwards and around the outside of the shoulder supports further supports the breathing system. Raise your arm and cup the armpit and down the side of the body. This supports your immune system. A good exercise to determine the effectiveness of cupping is to sit and notice your breath as you breathe deeply, then cup the arms inside and out and re-visit the breath again. Notice the difference? Cupping is also beneficial if someone has a cold or is coughing. It helps increase energy and oxygen to the lungs, throat and nose. Try doing this outside in nature.
  4. To gain moisture back into the body, eat warmer foods such as soups and stews. Increase your water intake and have warm or room temperature water instead of cold or icy drinks. Moisturizing foods such as pears, raw or steamed, are excellent for the lungs. Pumpkins and pomegranates are also good. Here is a recipe for a warming Curried Pumpkin Soup you might enjoy. Raw walnuts are great for the bowels and almonds are good for the lungs.
  5. Declutter! Did you know decluttering is a form of cleansing? This doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task, just pick one area and find a home for the things that a awaiting your attention. Also, how can you declutter your calendar? Look at how you are spending your time. Are there things you’re participating in that aren’t serving your goals and life purpose? What can be refined? If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, fall is a great time to get focused and inspired (which may come during the inspiration exercise of #1 above). Clearing your clutter and spending less time on things that aren’t bringing you meaning will create more space in your life for good things to flow in, including opportunities, relationships, money, things that inspire you, and smooth flowing energy in your body, mind, and spirit.

Enjoy the smells, tastes, sights, and sounds of autumn. The more you feel connected to the energy of the element and the season, the better your health and wellness will be. Practising Qigong can help you tune into this. For me, with consistent practice, my intuition gets louder and it is easier for me to make the subtle adjustments to bring myself into alignment. Plus, my immunity is automatically boosted, along with my mood, each time I practice. And who couldn’t use some help with a more positive outlook these days?

If you’d like to learn more, take a class with me! I have an online Spring Forest Qigong Level 1 class coming up next month! This is a great way to bring a healthful practice into your life to support your immune system, balance your emotions, improve your energy, and bring you more joy and happiness.

I would love to hear how you align yourself with the energy of autumn in the comments!

Thanks for reading!
Love and light,

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Sue Crites MSc, Holistic Healing & Qigong
Qigong Instructor, Mentor, & Master Healer


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