Lessons learned through changing seasons
Looking outside today, you would hardly believe we are already 2 weeks into Autumn. We are still swimming in the ocean, enjoying the longer days and balmy evenings, that Indian Summer feeling in the air. We can recognise only a few minor signs that a change in seasons is occuring.
But you know what is interesting?
Physically, my body is ready to move into Autumn. If you know how to truly listen to your body and read the signs, it will tell you it’s gearing up for the cooler months.
The signs for me?
My body gets a little more sluggish, my stomach is noticeably upset more often, things start to get a little foggier.
Because of my Metal Element constitution – a term in Traditional Chinese Medicine to describe the general state of the body before the onset of illness – I have a tendency to resist the signs of Autumn because I know that if I’m not really careful, this is when my body starts to show signs of weakness. It is not a bad thing at all, and we will all react to certain seasons more strongly than others, it’s the beauty of being different.
But how can you blame me?
When the weather is warm and telling you that for the majority of the day it feels like Summer then no wonder the body and mind get tangled in knots.
But this resistance to natures way, can lead to a few Metal Element related symptoms for me – in the form of colds or allergic reactions. If you look around, on your bus, in the office, these will become more frequent at this time of year.
But in listening to my body, I often need to tell myself – the process of slowing down before the onset of winter is actually okay, it is normal and as nature intended.
So what does ‘slowing down’ look like for me?
This process of slowing down might come as a few extra hours sleep a night or some slower mornings. Slowing down may mean taking on a few less commitments so that there is less stress on our bodies physically and mentally and we are able to cope better if our immunity starts to slide. I must confess, this is where my real weakness is exposed and I have to trust myself to say ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’.
Traditionally, this time of year was marked by the harvest. In one of my favourite texts on whole foods, Paul Pitchford describes Autumn beautifully –
a time to pull inward and gather together on all levels, a time to store fuel, food and warm clothing, a time to study and plan for the approaching stillness of winter
That process of pulling inward, will involve more yoga, attempting to cultivate the practice of meditation (but that’s another story) and creating defined ‘space’ in my day for pause and reflection.
To look at our bodies holistically, we can’t avoid the common denominator in everyone’s lives food. Food is medicine remember!
How does my eating change?
With Autumn I am encouraged to pull out the slow cooker and experiment with warming meals over raw or extreme heat such as barbecues or fried food. This is the time of year where we want to nurture and prepare our bodies for winter. With this slowing down, our meal choices and ingredients should begin to reflect the season. We introduce vegetables such as pumpkin, leeks and sour/pungent foods such as sauerkraut and lemons.
Because our immunity is directly related to healthy gut function, some may opt to try a gentle cleanse to cleanse the liver and support the gut.
Yes, if you are reading me well by now, this is my second moment of resistance.
Cleansing is not something that I’m bouncing off the walls to do, but if I am prepared and ready, the rewards cannot be matched. Your skin, your insides, your hormones, your mind, everything benefits whether it be 7 days or 4 weeks. The things I learn help me to form lifetime habits.
Sometimes a little resistance is actually not a bad thing. Our minds might resist but the signs our bodies show us cannot be ignored forever.
Join us in beginning the process of ‘slowing down’ as we move into Autumn. Let’s embrace the change of seasons with an open mind and heart, for there is so much to be learned from nature.