Fall has returned! In this season, nature lets go of its abundant creation of the past year in a grand final display. Leaves turn brilliant colors and drop back to the earth, enriching it to promote next year’s growth. In autumn, we can learn more about ourselves because, after a harvest, everything is bare. Autumn marks the end of the growing season, so it becomes a natural time to turn inward. Outer-directed energy falls away to be replaced by reflection and then creation.
Nature instructs us about the cycle of creation and letting go: Trees in autumn don’t stubbornly hold onto their leaves because they might need to wear them next year. Yet so many of us believe we can defy the natural cycle of things and hold onto what we’ve produced or collected. Those decayed leaves come in many forms: negativity, outdated attitudes (and clothes:), stagnant relationships and long held fear. How can we hope for a healthy harvest next year unless we release the old, rest and start fresh with renewed focus?
The lesson of this season, is a powerful one, Autumn reminds us to release the old, unnecessary, stale aspects of our lives in order to make space for the unexpected and new possibilities.
We all have feelings and experiences that make us think, “I wish this moment could last forever”. It is so human to want to hold on to special times and we often structure our lives hoping to create a reality in which that good feeling endures. But our expectations and preconceived notions of what we SHOULD feel, what we SHOULD need, what we SHOULD receive also get us into trouble. We also carry assumptions about what a friend, partner, son, teacher, or parent SHOULD be. Why does this cause trouble?? It doesn’t allow reality to exist.
Most of the times our ideas of what people SHOULD be very rarely coincides with the ways they actually behave or express themselves. Autumn is the season that teaches us to let go. Try dropping a few of those old ideas (like leaves) and see how much lighter you feel. This will also allow space for new ideas and growth.
Chinese Medicine has some herbal and dietary ideas to help you and your family enjoy a healthy fall season.
Foods – Eat more cooked and fewer raw foods. Sour, astringent foods like lemon, lime, pickle, vitamin C, seaweed, and sourdough bread can all benefit your health. Enjoy spicy/pungent foods like onion, garlic, radish, horseradish, and cabbage. Hearty concentrated foods like root vegetables, soy products and barley are also foods for Fall. Pumpkin ( pumpkin soup from the Chopra Center) , winter squash ( great recipe for ginger squash soup), and sweet potato are all great choices. Almonds, apples, and pears (especially Asian apple pears) are beneficial to the respiratory system.
Herbs – Astragalus is an herb that is often used to boost immunity and aid resistance to illness by increasing phagocytosis and your white blood cell count. Chinese research has shown it to have a protective effect against the common cold when taken consistently for two to eight weeks. Astragalus works best as a long-term preventive measure. It is best used throughout the cold and flu season to enhance immunity and prevent illness. You can find it as a tea, tincture, or in pill form.