AUTUMN DETOX IS ABOUT LETTING GO…
According to Chinese Medicine, there are 2 seasons during the year when detoxing is recommended and will bring on optimal results. One is Spring (see How to make the most of Summer and Spring), and the other one is Autumn.
Respecting the basic rules and rhythms of nature is part and parcel of ancient Chinese medicine and wisdom principles. Therefore, aligning yourself to nature’s « energy » and particularly to the energy of each season, will greatly assist and promote your health.
Autumn is linked to the Metal Element. Metal is associated with the Lungs and the Large Intestine (or colon).
The lungs welcome the oxygen and release the carbon dioxide that is toxic for our body. They operate under a clear and regular motion of taking in and letting go – breathing in, breathing out.
The large intestine operates under the same pattern of taking in and letting go, its function is to absorb the water remaining in the food that has been digested and to push away the unwanted remnants of the food that has been digested and is no longer useful.
The Lungs and the Large Intestine are related in this way and both represent the ability to let go of the old, the unnecessary, the clutter, in order to allow the new to come in.
When these Metal related organs are out of balance it will physically manifest as respiratory issues such as asthma, COPD, bronchitis, etc, but also constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, skin disorders…
By the way, not to worry too much if you have just caught a cold, your body is naturally trying to cleanse itself!
As you might know, in traditional chinese medicine, the human body is considered as a whole (holistic approach), which means that body and mind are interrelated and indissociable from one another.
When the Lungs and Large Intestine’s energies are out of balance, it can translate as emotional manifestations such as persisting sadness, low self esteem, lack of personal boundaries, obsessive compulsive disorders, an overdrive for perfection, issues with letting go, etc.
Let’s see now how you can best accompany this energy so it benefits your body and your mind.
On a nutritional level, I personally am not in favour of extreme detoxing.
As a matter of fact, as a Chinese Medicine practitioner I witness how the majority of patients nowadays show signs of depletion, their bodies are tired, affected by life’s fast pace, work challenges and emotional stresses.
If you are not on optimal form and still decide to go for a « one size fits all » extreme programme, you will run into more difficulties as your body will get further depleted, which will make the whole process counter productive.
Whether you are on good form or tired, I recommend you opt for a safe body and mind Autumn detox. Here is a very easy and efficient body-friendly way to go about it :
What it is not about :
It is not about FASTING.
What it is about:
It is about EATING THE RIGHT FOOD.
The right food is the food which will boost your digestive and respiratory system (Large Intestine-Lungs) in order to help THEM do THEIR job ie take charge of eliminating the unwanted clutter and absorb the precious nutrients.
However, in just a few words : as a general rule, and all year round, I would recommend you start avoiding processed food, high glycemic index food and you watch your coffee intake. I will not develop further today. If you are interested in knowing more, let me know in the comments or privately and I will get back to you.
Those of you who are already avoiding these categories of food: congratulations, keep going!
There are categories of food (a classification which was established thousands of years ago) which are associated to their corresponding Element and therefore have a beneficial effect on their related organs. If you put the emphasis on this category of food you will assist your body’s detoxing process.
Here is a list of the recommended food for the Metal Element (Lungs and Large Intestine). This doesn’t mean you have to eat this food only! You just need to incorporate more of it into your usual diet.
Go for what we call « pungent » and « white » food such as:
- White Rice
- Soya (tofu for example, but in moderation)
- White sesame
- Radish (even Black radish which is white inside)
In the same way we can assist our physical body by eating appropriate food to benefit the Metal organs, we can proceed in a similar way in regards to emotional aspects linked to this element, as mentioned before.
How can we best accompany the « taking in », « letting go » detox process, as far as emotions are concerned?
We need to find a way to let go of old thoughts which no longer serve us so that we can welcome the fresh new ones.
The emotion linked to the lungs is sadness.
Now is a particularly favourable time for allowing the feelings of sadness inside to be released.
It is necessary to do so if you have suffered a loss, a separation, If you are affected by the violence in the world, if you are feeling nostalgic or melancholic for no apparent reason.
You may have noticed quite a few people go through what is commonly called « seasonal depression », Autumn depression in other words.
How can you heal your feelings of sadness right now?
Again, by letting go…
Don’t try and fight it, allow the feeling to be there. Feel the pain.
Often we think that by avoiding a feeling it will somehow become less painful or it might even disappear. It won’t, it will hide and reappear, stronger and determined to make you deal with it.
« Don’t worry, be happy » doesn’t always work!
« Let yourself be sad when you are sad, and happy when you are happy » might be a more realistic approach.
If you take the time to feel the pain, the discomfort, and find a way to accept it is there, it will be more likely to go away by itself. And this process will free up some space so that « nicer » emotions can manifest.
So cry as often as you need to and…
Now that you are aware of the importance of the Lungs energy right now, you understand why breathing is one of the best Autumn detox practice you can do.
Here is a very simple detox breathing exercise – from the Six Healing Sounds Qigong:
You can practice this whenever you feel the need to. It is very simple yet powerful, it will help you release the physical toxins as well as the feelings of sadness.
Find a comfortable place and sit on the floor or on a chair. Place your hands on your lap. Feel your lungs in your chest and mentally connect to them, you can even smile to them. Take a deep breath through the nose, slightly tilt your head back, your tongue pressed gently against your palate, with clenched teeth and the corners of your mouth stretched out in a « fake » smile, exhale through the mouth with the sound « sssssssssssss ».
Repeat as many times as you wish, however if you feel dizzy, discontinue or use less power when breathing out.
End the exercise with connecting once again to your lungs with a feeling of gratitude.
Experience the difference between how you felt before and how you feel after the exercise.
RETREAT – The Yijing
Retreat is the name of Hexagramme 33 of the Yijing (I-Ching, Book of Change). It is a seasonal hexagramme and corresponds to September. It has 4 yang lines and 2 yin ones at the bottom. The Yin lines are making progress, meaning the Yin principle (dark, night) is advancing, days are getting shorter, winter is coming closer.
Retreating is a key element of detoxing and letting go.
The advice here is to withdraw and take a step back. It is a time for less social interactions, less stimulation from the outside world, and more space for yourself.
Practicing being silent whenever you can is a very healing habit. It will quiet our mind, allow it to « breathe ».
Retreating in order to let go also means releasing our grasp on outside events, relationships or situations which are causing concern and which are not going in the direction we would like them to go.
It does not mean giving up. Hexagramme 33 is a temporary step back, a short time of withdrawal which allows our mind to be clear and present for the next steps to take.
For people who lack strong personal boundaries, the advice would be here to retreat from the emotionally toxic environmnent or relationship in order to gain strength and be better equiped to maintain a healthy distance when necessary.
For people who, on the contrary, are very sharp, judgmental and lack tolerance with others or themselves, the advice would be to retreat in order to protect other people or themselves from harm, stop, breathe, become more aware so they are in a better position to consciously soften their behaviour later on.
Wishing you a nice different – detox ♥