Bustling school children and ubiquitous Pumpkin Spice can only mean one thing…it’s officially Autumn. Although the Fall Equinox arrives in late September, the Seasonal Nodes have slowly shifted to Autumn since early August.
What are Seasonal Nodes, you may ask? Based on both solar and lunar calendars, the 24 Solar Terms, or Seasonal Nodes, are biweekly divisions that reflect significant natural shifts. People in East Asia have used the wisdom of Seasonal Nodes to guide agricultural and human activity from the 17th century BCE to the present day.
Understanding the Seasonal Nodes can help us “swim with the current” of nature – in other words, we can harness the vast forces of nature to optimize our well-being and enhance the outcomes of our endeavors. This seasonal series will explain the Seasonal Nodes as organized into the four seasons we are already familiar with. Now, let’s continue with…Autumn!
- Beginning of Autumn (Aug 8-22: Leo)
- Seemingly premature, during this period of “Indian Summer”, daytime temperatures remain warm, while evening takes on a crisp, cooler edge
- End of Heat (Aug 23-Sept 7: Virgo)
- The zenith of summer comes to an end
- White Dew (Sept 8-22: Virgo)
- Cooler temperatures cause vapor to condense to water, and autumn rains begin
- Autumn Equinox (Sept 23-Oct 7: Libra)
- Conventionally known as the “First Day of Fall”, day and night are in perfect equilibrium
- Cold Dew (Oct 8-23: Libra)
- Weather cools down enough to form dew, but not enough to form frost
- Frost (Oct 24-Nov 7: Scorpio)
- The advent of early frost, signifies the transition to winter
Autumn is associated with the Metal element – descending, condensing, cooling, and drying. Leaves are falling, temperatures dropping, days shortening, and crops ripening. You may find it easier to settle down and get back into routine, as the Metal element also represents structure and organization. The extroverted vibrance of Summer is turning inward to the more serious self-reflection of Autumn.
Here are some tips to align with the descending energy of Autumn.
“In the three months of autumn, all things in nature reach their full maturity” ~ Huangdi Neijing
- Sleep longer and turn your attention inward. Nature is slowing down, gathering, and focusing its energy – and so should we. “Gather one’s spirit and energy, be more focused, and [don’t] let desires run wild” ~Huangdi Neijing
- Increase moistening foods – such as apples, walnuts, honey, rice, sesame seed, and spinach – to prevent chapped lips, dry skin, and constipation as the weather becomes drier. Try cinnamon-poached pears to warm and moisten the lungs and prevent seasonal coughs.
- Pungent flavors – found in onions, garlic, ginger, and horseradish – can help strengthen immunity and support the lungs as we head into the colder months.
- Warm foods and drinks are always recommended, but especially during seasonal shifts, as our bodies become vulnerable to colds.
- Strengthen your Lungs. The Lungs are the organs associated with Autumn, which means they are particularly vulnerable at this time. Daily breathing exercises (Qigong, pranayama, or just deep belly breathing) and refraining from smoking will support the Lung system and prevent digestion issues in winter.
- At the early onset of a cold, a heavy dose of ginger and scallions in your diet can act as a last-minute protective shield.
Set Boundaries, Let Go
- Reorganize your physical space. Donate unused items, clean out your computer, or reorganize your home. There’s a reason why school starts in September. The descending energy is perfect for hunkering down and getting back into routine.
- Reset emotional boundaries. Just as trees drop their leaves to conserve energy for winter, we should also conserve our emotional energy. Reflect on what you are unnecessarily clinging on to (unhealthy relationships, negative mindsets, bad habits), and try to release them.
- Fittingly, grief is the emotion associated with autumn, so there is a natural grieving process that accompanies letting go. If so, observe the sensations without judgment, and recognize that it will pass, sooner or later.
These are just several ways we can align ourselves with the season to realize the best versions of ourselves. For more personalized advice according to your unique constitution, please consult your practitioner. Seasonal transitions are the perfect opportunity to rebalance yourself with acupuncture and herbs!