Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall should be called "Get Off Me" season

Did you know that leaves don't just fall off trees in autumn? Trees actually purposefully "cut" their leaves off when it's time to let go, so they can preserve their internal juices over the winter and make a fresh batch of leaves in the spring. This NPR piece says it beautifully: the season shouldn't be called "fall" - it should be called "get off me" season.

In Chinese Medicine, the season of fall is associated with the Lungs and the Large Intestine, which are both about extracting what you need(oxygen, water) and expelling what you don't need(carbon dioxide, feces). They are our great reminders to let go.

It's the length of time that we hold onto anything that is the key to the rhythm of the Lungs and Large Intestine. There's an adequate amount of time to hold on to things and then there's not holding on long enough or holding on too long.
Not holding on long enough might look like short, shallow breathing, gasping for air, difficulty inhaling, or when food passes right though you. Emotionally that might look like dismissing people or opportunities before giving them a chance and seeing their value.
Holding on too long might show up physically as asthma (for those who have trouble upon exhalation) or constipation. Emotionally that can look like holding a grudge, regret, or prolonged grief. Televisionally, that looks like the show Hoarders. Holding on to anything for too long - whether it's leaves on trees, air, feces, emotions or cardboard boxes - backs us up like a traffic jam so freshness can't flow through us.

In the clinic, I may be paying attention to how you're inhaling and exhaling. I may ask you about your bowels. I may ask you how you are with the actual season of fall. I may inquire more if you mention a recent situation that evoked some sadness, regret, or grudgyness that seems to have no end in sight.

Letting go is a part of life, and while it can sometimes be painful, letting go is also the very thing that allows us to keep on living. If you're feeling the urge to purge something that's holding you back, whether it's in attic, the closet, the kitchen cabinet, the car trunk, that relationship, that job, that living situation....consider what part of it is useful to you, glean a lesson from it, and freely announce "Time's up! Get off me! I've got to get on with living!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First comes Halloween, then comes cold season

It's no coincidence that the winter cold and flu season starts after Halloween.
Did you know that 70% of the body's immune system is in the gut? Seventy percent. That means most of the germs you come in contact with sneak in through your nose or mouth, which lead straight into the stomach and intestines. If your gut is too overwhelmed to pass germs through you, it resorts to pushing toxins out another way, via mucous, stuffed nose, stuffy head, fever, chills, cough, etc. The way your gut can get overwhelmed is when it shifts into high gear to process stuff like sugar and processed chemicals. Halloween brings on an onslaught of delicious chewy melty goodness...which is like D Day for your gut. With your gut focused on recycling all that goo, your immune system gets dampened. Then comes cold weather, stress, holiday shopping, family get-togethers, stress, holiday pies, death of diets, end of year audits, and more stress...and voila...you have a tissue-filled winter cold and flu season.

The key to preventing all that is to treat your gut gently. Eat in moderation, starting with Halloween candy. Add in more soups more cooked veggies.

If you still feel like the end of fall and beginning of winter is bringing you down, there are some acupuncture points to help clear out toxins and open up your sinuses, so ask your friendly neighborhood acupuncturist about keeping you healthy all winter long!