Here on the coast we often enjoy sunshine and warmth that has eluded us all summer. Still, forces are at work that will inexorably turn autumn into winter. We can support health and consolidate immune function through coming into alignment with natural cycles. Autumn offers great opportunity to protect and strengthen the Metal organs, lungs and large intestine, important components of the immune system.  

Expansive energies of summer (Fire) have gathered in throughout late summer (Earth). In further preparation for winter, Metal energies of autumn continue to draw inward and downward, though now with outward expression. Metal (mineral) phase seems to contradict by including most and least dense, metal and air. Metal appropriately contracts and expands; pulls in and releases. Underground tubers plump up, drawing nutrients in, while aboveground leaves let go. 

Breathing in, breathing out; taking in, letting go; accumulating, eliminating. Though internal, lungs and large intestine open to the outside (lungs via the nose) and so interact with environmental factors such as temperature, wind, humidity and dryness. Lungs rule the skin and thus boundaries both physiological and emotional. Integrity, self esteem and inspiration reflect healthy Metal qualities. Discernment determines self/not self, pure/impure, essential/nonessential. 

Often, we feel nostalgic in the autumn, though unsure why. Lungs are vulnerable to grief, with difficulty in letting go. Grieving loss is natural and healthy, but longterm grief that never seems to heal can eventually harm lung function.

This autumn, enjoy the clean coastal air with deep inhale and exhale. Notice habits of thought and behavior you no longer want, and intend gentle release with the breath. When stressed, check that you are breathing fully. Practice qigong or yoga for breath awareness and more. It’s a great time to clean out closets! Keep essential; release nonessential.

Supportive foods are now in season: Root vegetables, winter squash, mushrooms, apples and pears. Cook meat slowly, with added moisture. Consume pungent flavors (brassicas, ginger, culinary spices) to help disperse internal phlegm. Minimize consumption of foods that produce phlegm, like dairy and sugar. As always, choose cooked over raw or cold food, especially avoiding ice. 

Dress in layers during unstable weather. Our vital energies are drawing inward while temperatures are dropping outside. Lungs are unduly taxed with warming the skin when we don’t wear enough clothing. Protect and strengthen Metal energies now to buffer against colds and flu, perhaps even depression, in the coming winter.

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