It is officially autumn and change is in the air. This change is not in the light, dynamic way of spring, but in a rooting and grounding sense. This means it is the perfect time to harness the scattered energy of the summer season and to solidify or create supportive and nurturing habits and routines.
Whereas summer is often about expansion, vacation, activity and outward focus, fall is the time to pull inwards a bit and contract. At this time everything in nature contracts and moves its essence inward and downward: leaves and fruit fall, seeds dry, the sap of trees goes into the roots, and grasses become lighter and drier. While summer is the height of our yearly lifecycle, autumn signals the dying off. It is natural at this time of year to feel a little less social and to have a desire for heavier and warmer meals. By staying mindful of this shift in season and how we may be affected, we can make appropriate choices that will nurture rather than sabotage our efforts towards a balanced and healthy way of life.
In this modern day life, the fall often signals a flurry of activity. Parents and children rush to keep up with the new school schedule, holiday plans begin, and business may pick up after summer vacations. This is indeed all part of the game, just be sure to have a plan about how you intend to feed, care for and generally support yourself.
For Best Results
Here are a few ideas to get you going in setting up a healthy foundation. Take just one idea at a time and commit fully for 2 weeks. In this way you really establish the habit and make that activity or exercise a routine. Then take on another in the same fashion. Remember, slow and steady is the way to a lifetime of healthy habits.
Healing With Sour Foods
The autumn is a time to organize and focus mentally (contract). To facilitate this process of contraction, add more sour foods. These include lemons, limes, grapefruit, raw sauerkraut, olives, pickles, salt plums (umeboshi), apple cider vinegar, yogurt and kefir, rose hip tea, and the sour varieties of apples, plums and grapes. A little bit goes a long way, so don’t get caught in the myth of “if a little is good, then more must be better”.
This is a great time of year to introduce a glass of morning lemon water. An excellent healing tonic all year round, ¼ to ½ of a fresh ripe lemon squeezed into warm or room temperature water assists with elimination and digestion, provides an enlivening burst of vitamin C, and helps alkalize the body.
The autumn is a time of dryness, so if you find yourself being prone to excessive thirst, or dryness of skin, nose, lips, or throat, you will want to be sure to include plenty of “moistening” foods. Such foods include spinach, barley, millet, pear, apple, persimmon, loquat, sea vegetables, black and white mushrooms, almonds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, raw dairy products (if tolerated), and eggs. Using a small amount of high quality salt in your food can also help, especially for more a vata (thin, active mind) constitution.
In Chinese medicine the autumn is the season related to the Metal Element and the lungs. This means it is especially vital to strengthen and protect the lung energy. The yang counterpart to the lungs is the colon, so releasing what is no longer needed in both of these organs is essential at this time of year. Often times our ability to let go physically directly corresponds to the ability to release on the emotional and psychic levels.
Autumn is a prime time to cleanse the colon and to practice mindful breathing. By gently cleansing the lungs and colon 1-2 times per year you can often stave off the usual colds and flu, as well as cancer. Pungent foods such as hot peppers and chilies are excellent at protecting the lungs. White pungents can be especially important to include, as this color specifically affects the lungs. These would include garlic, ginger, turnips, horseradish, cabbage, daikon, and common radish. By consuming these foods raw or slightly cooked, you will maximize their effect.
Dark green and golden-orange vegetables are very helpful in keeping the immune activity bolstered and protecting both the lungs and colon against cancer. The chlorophyll in the green foods is strongly supportive in inhibiting viruses and assisting the lungs in discharging toxic residues. Eat abundant amounts of broccoli, parsley, kale, turnip and mustard greens, watercress, wheat or barley grass, spirulina, blue green algae (see my blog post on E3 Live), and the herbs yerba santa leaf, mullein leaf and nettles. Include the golden-orange vegetables such as carrots, winter squash and pumpkin.
Fiber is a must at any time of year, but especially when the focus is on the colon. Include plenty of whole vegetables and fruits as well as high fiber seeds such as ground flax seed and soaked chia seed.
It can be a great idea to meet with a qualified health care practitioner who can lead you through a cleanse. As an alternative you may look to purchase an “at home” kit. One word of caution: there are many to choose from and they are not all created equal. Please see my list of recommended wellness products http://devanawellness.wordpress.com/recommended-wellness-products/
Scroll down to the “Cleansing” section for the cleanse products I recommend.
One of the best ways to cleanse and strengthen the lungs is through deep breathing. Whether you choose to create a formal practice in the morning or evening or just practice while driving or waiting in line at the store, this simple act has tremendous benefit. To learn more about how this type of breathing is done you can visit a yoga class, enlist an instructor for a private lesson or obtain a book on the subject, such as The Yoga of Breath by Richard Rosen (http://astore.amazon.com/devana-20/detail/1570628890/102-4765999-9640923 ).
To really amplify the effects and help bolster the immune system, I suggest trying some of Young Living’s special blends to support lung health. If you invest in one of their new ultrasonic diffusers, you can easily reap the benefits of the oils without the damaging heat of traditional diffusers. My favorite oils for the lungs and sinuses include Raven, R.C., Thieves, Melrose, Exodus II, ravensara, Eucalyptus radiata, and thyme. For more information visit: http://youngliving.us and use member #904207 to order.
Remember to take one step at a time and if this still feels overwhelming, please consider taking my virtual 10-Week Body Transformation Program. It’s a very affordable way to support your journey to a lifetime of feeling and looking amazing!