How to Engage Your 5 Senses to Care For Yourself This Fall

Click here to download Sheryl's FREE Guide to Lung Health

The autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere is this Tuesday, September 22nd at 7:30am MST. The sun is rising shortly before that time these days so I invite you to treat yourself to a quick morning walk. Breath in the crisp, cool and invigorating air before your day gets going. Notice the birds, the changing colors of the leaves and ground beneath you and give thanks for the all the abundance in your life, even if things seem tough for you right now. 

Autumn is the time to harvest the seeds you sewed back in the spring time. Whether you are a farmer, started a project, had to goal, a vision, an intention, it’s time to wrap it up! Autumn is a time to consolidate and begin storing energy for the cooler months ahead, not expending it. It is very important to take the crops off and bring closure to unfinished projects so that they don’t weigh you down and bring disappointment and stress in the days and months to come.  If you need to set new deadlines, do so. If you need to put in some extra hours to finish things off, do so. It will make you feel so much lighter and fulfilled.

We don’t need anything weighing us down as we go into these shorter and darker days. Free yourself as much as possible now of any burdens that are within your control. Make space within. As our energy naturally moves more inward this season and actually until spring time, we want to be as free and decongested as possible. If need be, clear out old habits, negative and destructive thinking, and anything that keeps you from feeling spacious within. 

Let’s prepare and make room for something new and special to happen this fall and winter!?

How do we adjust and flow harmoniously with nature and it's natural cycles? Let’s tease our 5 senses as a means to caring for ourselves this Autumn.LISTEN

As the sound of the furnace comes on in your home, be grateful for the heat that keeps you and your family warm and cozy.

Listen to the flocks of birds chirp as they fly and move together frequently soaring down to eat the remains of crops that have been harvested. Listen as they begin uprooting and flying south. Listen as life becomes quieter and the days wrap up sooner. Now and always, be receptive to all and any messages that can help you along the way. Especially when you are outside and there is no ceiling over your head, be open to all and any signs that speak to you. 

Listen to your body if it is wanting more rest right now. If you feel so compelled, sleep more and enjoy more time nestled inside your home. After all, we did expend quite a bit of energy this summer.The emotions that can weigh heavy on us this season are sorrow, grief, and sadness and they all weaken the lungs and large intestine, which are naturally the most vulnerable organs during this season. Because you can’t just hit a switch and turn off these heavy emotions, I encourage you to move through them. Get support to do so. Perhaps it’s time to create boundaries with certain people or stand up for yourself or put an end to certain patterns. You know what’s best. Make the changes you need to make to lighten your spirit.

In the clinic at the start of Autumn, I often see an increase in depression and sadness. People fear the sun becoming decreasingly less present. In some cases, the emotional congestion around fall can be quite severe.

The Large Intestine is responsible for “letting go” both in the physical and emotional sense. Adequate hydration is necessary to prevent constipation in addition to freeing the body of any mucous and phlegm. Mucous in the stool disrupts the large intestines balance creating bowel issues such as IBS, colitis, celiac, etc. People with runny noses will often have runny or loose stools and people with congested and painful sinuses will often struggle with constipation and/or difficult bowels.TOUCH 

Experiment with different textiles this season that are warm and cozy and make you feel good. This is the season for scarves, high necked tops, hats, toques, and hoodies. So as to protect your head, ears and neck from the wind and cold, don’t let anyone in your home leave the house without protecting the upper part of their body. If you want to see a complete shit show, with a pandemic already in place, go outside not properly dressed and see what happens!!

As the ground becomes cooler, spend less time barefooted outside or in areas where the floor is cold, like basements and garages. It is easy to catch a cold when you're barefoot in cool places. Time to pull out the wool socks!

Gardening is the ultimate gift to yourself to not only engage in all the different textures but to also enjoy the fruits of all your labor. Give thanks for all that you are harvesting. Get your hands dirty and enjoy pulling all the root vegetables out of your garden. Meditate as you rake the leaves this season. 

SMELL

The nose is the external opening and portal for the lungs, and is responsible for our sense of smell. It is imperative to keep our sinuses decongested and free of mucous. Patterns like loss of smell, sinus congestion, phlegm in the throat or chronic throat issues are treated through the Lungs.  

Appreciate the smell of the dirt before it freezes and the crisp fresh air. Enjoy the smell of roasting your freshly picked root vegetables and the smell of garden grown tomatoes as they are being picked from the vine and then sliced into.

Strong Lungs = Strong Immunity. Love your lungs and be concerned with keeping your immune system strong always, but especially while it is naturally challenged this season. I have a whole blog article on Let's Talk Immunity and All Things Lung  so be sure to read up on what this means and how you can support yourself and your loved ones. In a nutshell, along with the Qi that is extracted from the food we eat, our lungs extract Qi from the air we breath. This Qi from food and air is considered the Qi that sustains our lives postnatally. The lungs are the closest connection to the exterior, receiving air directly through the sinuses and mouth.

Chinese medicine refers to the Lungs as delicate organs because they are the most vulnerable to exterior pathogenic invasion such as wind and coldness. Because the autumn brings about more coldness and wind, perhaps this is why the lungs are the most compromised during this season?

Besides being our first line of defence, the lungs have numerous other jobs and responsibilities. At a time when our energy is naturally moving inward, we have less Qi being distributed on the surface of our body and instead it is traveling deeper to keep us warm much like in nature, the animals are preparing for hibernation.

SEE

Open your eyes and take in all the beauty of the leaves changing colours. Pay attention to those you love and how they are doing. Be available for people to share themselves with you. Look and see where you can give a hand and be of service to others. 

Of the 5 elements, metal is the element associated with fall. When we think metal, we can think structure, order, cleanliness, even perfectionism. This is a good time to tidy up and organize your home to bring about more simplicity, predictability and spaciousness. Start putting schedules in place and appreciate some regularity. In addition, we can be reminded of boundaries, always and especially, when we’re in the metal element.Because our immune system is already vulnerable, it’s important that we armour up, not to close ourselves off but to protect our energy and so that we don’t get sucked dry in a time we need to be storing up for the winter months ahead. Outside of caring for your family, perhaps this is the time to push the pause button on all and any situations that endlessly consume your energy. Time outs are healthy and sometimes needed as we go inward and reevaluate things.

TASTE

As the temperatures drop outside, consume less raw foods and cold drinks and begin warming your food and drinks. Enjoy making comforting foods that are cooked slowly for a longer period of time like soups, stews, crockpot foods, roasting and baked dishes. These methods create a deeper warmth and will supply greater energy.If you suffer with excessive dry conditions, use more stewing or poaching methods which add moisture to the food. If you suffer with mucous like conditions, use dryer methods of cooking like baking and roasting.  Eating foods that are white like mushrooms, navy beans, turnips, onions and cauliflower are good for the lung. And cauliflower actually looks like a lung so that’s even better. The color associated with the metal element and lungs is white. For a list of more foods that support the lungs, download my free guide to Lung Health. 

Pungent and spicy foods can promote sweating and this benefits the lungs when disturbed by outside influences such as wind, cold, dryness. 

Pungent foods also help in the digestion of rich foods and help to clear mucous in the lungs and large intestine. Be careful because when eaten in excess, pungent and spicy foods can lead to dryness and deplete the lung qi leading the fatigue and listlessness. I feel that the fall and spring equinox and winter and summer solstice are a great excuse for ceremony and celebration. In recognition of the fall equinox, take in the sunrise and sunset. Light a fire to stay warm as you continue to enjoy evenings outside. Fully engage your 5 senses as a way to thrive in this season, cozy up, tidy up, bundle up to keep your immune system strong, rest more, harvest the fruits of your labor, finish your projects, eat warm nourishing foods, and regulate your emotions to be of service to yourself and those around you.

May you experience health and happiness this season and always.

Xo 

 

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