The first hints of a break from the relentless heat and damp of summer have quietly arrived with a few mornings, over the last week or two, championing moderate temperatures garnered with pleasant breezes. More, please!
And, of course, more will be on the way in the weeks ahead but, these days, autumn doesn’t really set in fully until the very end of October. So, why is “autumn in the air?” A good question. And one with a really interesting answer: in Chinese Medicine (CM), health consists of a harmonious balance between what are known as the Three Treasures. You might think of a favorite brand of car: a really hopped-up and fun car would certainly look snazzy on the outside but would purr on the inside too.
Health in CM takes a similar approach: from the outside, a person should look cheerful—with a sparkle in her or his eye. The shape should be well-proportioned with color in the face and a lively gait. Just seeing such a person—even in passing—can bring a smile to your face. Why? Health is contagious and we all know what it feels like to be healthy and what a healthy person looks like. So, seeing someone who is obviously bubbling with vitality and interest in life will naturally spark a similar feeling in most folks.
This is the first of the Three Treasures, jing (rhymes with sing). In Chinese Medicine, jing designates the body along with its many regulatory substances such as hormones, peptides and the neuroendocrine system. The other two treasures are qi (physiology, electricity and biophysical energy) and shen (mind, a person’s character, and, if you subscribe to the notion: a person’s higher self [or soul]). These two important aspects will be discussed in later postings. For now, it’s important to realize that not only do the Three Treasures have to be intact and functioning well—both individually and as a team—they also all have to being playing ball with the seasons and the flow of nature’s other cycles.
Autumn may not quite be here temperature-wise but the earth really takes little note of this and continues on its merry way around the sun. In fact, the autumn equinox (Sep 23) marks its transition into the quarter of space around the sun which corresponds to autumn (in the northern hemisphere). So, on the surface-level, just like jing, the days will lazily meander their way to milder temperatures and more appealing days, but, on the inside-level, just like qi and shen, the earth and sun are starting their autumn-time housekeeping. That is, although what you see and feel still feels hot—and it is—what is starting to happen at a more subtle biophysical level (called energy or qi) is autumn-time.
So, we have arrived at autumn in terms of energy and spirit. And autumn, in terms of physical qualities like temperature, is dawdling but will catch up with the plot soon enough. What’s the point? Simply this: from October on you can strengthen not only your health and attitude but also your luck, success and relationships by aligning with the autumnal energies. In CM, autumn relates to the Metal element which in turn is comprised of the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. So, qigong or acupuncture or feng shui aimed to bolster these factors will succeed now better than any other time of the year.
We will continue the discussion in the next blog posting but for now you can check out the qigong videos posted on this website (choose About then Videos from the menu; or, you can click the title of this blog post to navigate to our related Oriental Medicine website). If you are willing to invest a little time, you can also use the themes related to the season and its meridians for self-reflection. This can work really well and effect truly positive changes. Just do a web search and then set up a regular time to consider and study what these ideas mean to you, how they play out in your life and how you want them to manifest in the future. For instance, the Metal element refers to (among many other things) a time for harvest and clarification; it also represents a time for grounding and taking sensible action. Happy autumn-time!