The Three Months of Autumn

tumblr_nua128fvl31qdeuyro1_1280We’re well on the way to December 21st, the ‘shortest’
day of the year and the ‘height’ of winter from a Chinese Medicine perspective, but more about that in the next article, this is about autumn…

The three months of Autumn are called overflowing and balancing
The breaths (氣- qi) of Heaven become urgent
The breaths of Earth are resplendent (
 – ming)…
– Su Wen chapter 2,
from Larre and Rochat’s The Way of Heaven

The calendar of Chinese Medicine follows the sun, the light – it is about the balance between day and night as we move through the year. To live in harmony with these movements is to stay healthy, to dance with the seasons.

There is a radiance to autumn in New York – the golden leaves, the full farmers markets, and comfortably cool air make it easy to celebrate this season. The Earth is truly resplendent, as the Su Wen instructs. But, the autumn can be precarious for our health.

Summer may have been about being outside and enjoying casual times with little worry about the climate, but autumn is different – autumn requires us to focus, and be careful about our selections. If we’re not careful, it’s very easy to find ourselves with a ‘cold’ or worse. Autumn is about gathering the last of the harvest before the long, cold winter.

The Su Wen instructs in chapter 2,

Pacifying the breaths of Autumn
without letting the vitality be scattered outside
Making the breaths of the Lung clear and fresh.
This is the way that is proper to the breaths of Autumn
which thus correspond to the maintaining and gathering in of life.
To go countercurrent would injure the lung…

As we approach the final days of Autumn, this is a powerful time for clearing – for seeming ‘sick,’ when our body is expelling anything we do not need to keep for winter.

The prescription is clear: work with the Lung qi, which corresponds to the maintaining and gathering in of life, and do not let the essences escape as we approach winter. Keep breathing, exercising lightly, but do not work so hard or vigorously that the sweat pours out of you.

We’ll continue our exploration of the seasons with a forthcoming post on winter, but if you’re interested in learning more, please see Chinese Medicine from the Classics – The Lung or The Way of Heavenboth by Claude Larre and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee.


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