When fall hits you can feel a shift in the air--school is starting; even if you or your children aren't in school, there is that old familiar feeling. Even if it is still warm, the light is different in the sky. As an acupuncturist, this is when I tend to give my "fall dietary recommendations" like eating more warm foods to balance the cooling outside temperatures. But, I've decided not to go that route today. I'd like to talk instead about the shift in energy this time of year and how that can affect you.
Summer brings a rising energy that moves outward. People tend to spend more time outside being active; they tend to want foods that cool them down, like watermelon or ice cream (unless your acupuncturist has warned you that there is nothing worse for you than cold dairy...). In contrast to that, Fall is about gathering (I am skipping "Late Summer" for the purposes of this post). If you think about what the animals are doing in the fall, they are preparing for Winter. They are gathering food to store in their nests during their hibernation. They are trying to put on some fat to keep themselves warm when it is cold and snowy outside. They are starting to store up reserves so that they survive the long Winter.
Unlike animals, we have supermarkets and Winter coats, not to mention indoor heating and lighting. As a culture, we've moved away from the energetics of nature so that we can survive all year round without really changing any of our daily habits (aside from having to dress in layers and wear boots). However, that only means that we are less in tune with the energetics that surround us; it doesn't mean that they don't affect us.
As the days get shorter, and we get busier at work and at home, there is a sense of something building. As we move through our days in Fall, we tend to spend more time rushing around, trying to get everything done. Gone are the days of summer vacation, we are back to the regular routine. Take a moment to observe this in your life. Even if you are not aware of it, you are preparing for Winter in the sense that you have a drive to make everything happen right now because you won't have time later. When the days get shorter, so do tempers, perhaps. The "feel-good" sunshine is not around in the same doses and more and more people (especially here in the Northeast United States) suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). If we were animals, we'd just sleep through the Winter and come out refreshed in Spring, ready to build our Vitamin D stores back up. But because for most of us that is not possible, we need to acknowledge that this might be our tendency and supplement against it (or build up enough with Summer sun exposure to be able to coast through the Winter).
This Gathering of Qi that happens in the Fall is an interesting phenomenon to observe in yourself and others. Being aware of it is the first step to keeping it from getting out of control. Deep breaths and other stress management techniques will be important to keep your Qi moving and prevent it from gathering and becoming stuck. You many notice feeling a little off balance, especially around the Autumnal Equinox. This is the best time to turn your attention inward and give yourself a bit of nourishing, physically, mentally and emotionally. It will make the swirl of the the season a little more tolerable.