As the trees drop their leaves in the autumn, we too are prompted to let go of that which does not serve us. And this urge is no coincidence; it is nature speaking to us and through us.
Living in harmony with the rhythm of nature is not a new practice, but it has been forgotten in our fast-paced, urban lives.
With the turn of each season, our body wants to mimic the process that nature is experiencing. When we are in sync with this rhythm, we have more energy and are more productive, happier and peaceful.
Fruits and vegetables are programmed by Mother Nature to give our bodies what they need most, when they need it most.
The clues nature provides in each season are the following:
Spring - New Beginnings, revitalization, resurgence of energy. Corresponds with the liver and element of wood and the eastern direction. In Eastern medicine, this is a time of detoxification and ensuring the flow of ki through the liver is uninhibited. At this time, nature is infusing you with energy and giving your body a jolt from the calm, slow and lethargic winter. Tap into the energy of spring by eating plenty of greens (the color of liver and the wood element) and consuming food and herbs that help detoxify the liver like beet, dandelion, milk thistle and chamomile.
Summer - Activity, fertility, growth, outward expression of energy, yang. Corresponds with the heart and element of fire and the southern direction. During summer, we are at our most expansive, taking advantage of long days, plenty of activities and bountiful foods. At this time, the energy that was stored underground during winter has blossomed and come into its full expression. We have the most energy during this season. Tap into the energy of summer by eating cooling herbs such as chrysanthemum, lemon balm, mint and hibiscus and resting during the hottest part of the day. This reserves your energy and makes socializing and getting things done with the extra light easy and less stressful on the body.
Autumn - Letting go, moving inward, harvesting, preparing for winter, storing provisions. Corresponds with the lungs and the element of metal and the western direction. In autumn, we are pulled to release that which no longer serves us. We harvest what was planted in spring and store it for the long winter ahead. The energy of autumn is crisp and clear as we are in preparation for what we know to be a difficult few months ahead. Tap into the energy of autumn by breathing plenty of fresh air and being outdoors as much as possible. Reflect and be grateful for the harvest of your life. Practice dry brushing the skin (the skin is thought to be part of the lungs in Eastern medicine) to revitalize the body. Eat pears, American ginseng, pumpkins, squash and yams. Spend 15 minutes a day in the sun.
Winter - Retreat, stillness, quiet, rest, spending time inside with loved ones and self, yin. Corresponds with the kidneys and the element of water and the northern direction. In order to experience the full expression and expansiveness of summer, we must fully embody the stillness of winter. Tap into the the energy of winter by taking time to reflect, be still, be warm and enjoy the slower pace rather than try to move at the speed of summer. Eat warm, hearty meals like soups with peas, root vegetables, chicken broth and warming herbs. In eastern medicine, it is thought that the cold wind is responsible for colds and the flu so cover your lower back and neck.
In addition to the guide above and eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, we can also realign ourselves with this natural rhythm by spending time in nature. The Earth emits negative ions and far infrared rays (FIRs) which help realign the body with the rhythm of nature, improve mental clarity and creativity, reduce stress and elevate mood.
Nature has much to teach us, but it is up to us to make the time to listen.