Flow with the autumn
In western countries, September is often a kind of starting point, a time to begin something new.
On the other hand, because April is the start of the school year in Japan, September is often considered a kind of halfway point in the year, a time to recover from the heat and humidity of the summer. At this time of the year, the mood is quite different in Japan and western countries.
In Traditional Japanese Medicine (TJM), autumn is regarded as a transition point, when the energy vector’s rise is finished and its descent from top to bottom begins. Yang reaches its peak in summer. Its transformation into yin begins in autumn and is completed in winter.
The Lungs and Breath
According to the philosophy of TJM, the Lung phase of our body’s seasonal cycle starts as we head into fall. The main function of the Lungs is respiration. This is believed to include the regulation of our Qi as we inhale the “pure Qi” of the air and exhale the “dirty Qi” we have metabolized.
The energy of autumn is associated with a kind of boundary across which we can take things in and let them go. According to this concept, the boundary is both our physical and energy “skins,” the membrane at which interactions with others and the environment occur. It is symbolic of our constant living interaction with the world, the workings of which can be seen most clearly in the action of the breath.
In many cultures and philosophies, breath is thought to be a bridge linking body, mind and spirit.
All that we need physically, emotionally and energetically is to maintain flexible and lively breathing.
You might have noticed that, when you are busy or stressed, your breath tends to become shallow, or in extreme cases, you might even hold your breath. In contrast, when you are in a forest, you might have felt how smoothly and naturally the air or Qi fills and rejuvenates whole.
Emotion, Thought and Attachment
As we breathe, we take in not only oxygen but also life force, Qi, and the essence of the universe.
Breathing allows the interchange of thoughts and emotions. When breathing is constricted, it can obstruct the rhythmic flow of taking in and letting go, causing an over-attachment to thoughts or an under-attachment to emotions.
The energy of autumn promotes the release and letting go of the attachments that weigh us down. Through the character of the season, nature encourages us to develop the ability to gratefully accept & freely relinquish thoughts, emotions and energy. It deepens our understanding of the matrix of life.
Be grateful for the bounty of nature and embrace that which is essential.
The momentum of Autumn is not just letting go of things physically and emotionally. It’s also about recognizing what is truly essential and embracing it wholeheartedly.
Autumn, in its essence, urges us to distill the rich experiences, the “sparks of joy and happiness” of the summer. It’s a time to harvest not just crops but also the vibrant emotions and experiences of the preceding months. It’s about converging the expansive energy into a focused essence, “crystalizing the essential” of Autumn.
As we express our gratitude for nature’s bounty, we also acknowledge and appreciate the myriad emotions and experiences that have enriched our lives. As the leaves fall and nature prepares for the stillness of winter, we too are encouraged to reflect on our lives and nurture the things that are truly precious. Autumn is a call to let go of our attachments and to cherish and cultivate the essential aspects of our lives.
As Autumn progresses, sunsets come earlier and earlier, and the colors of the leaves turn to brilliant red, gold and yellow. It gets so cool and dry that it’s hard to believe the hot and humid summer actually occurred. It’s also the time for farmers to harvest their crops and for us to give thanks for the grace and bounty of nature. In traditional oriental medicine, Autumn is the time of a pivotal transition that invites us to adapt to the rhythm of nature.
We humans are part of the natural world although people often fail to recognize it. The transition between each season is a good time to reflect on this, and the close connection between the seasons, our health and lifestyles.