Life cultivation in autumn

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Examples of TCM Life Cultivation in Accordance with Seasonal Conditions

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Life cultivation in autumn

Autumn refers to the period from the Beginning of Autumn to the previous day of the Winter Solstice which includes the solar terms of Limit of Heat, White Dew, the Autumnal Equinox, Cold Dew and Frosts Descent chronologically. The three months of autumn are a season of maturity and harvest. At this time, the Yang Qi gradually decreases while Yin and cold increase step by step. The autumnal wind is crisp. The climate turns cooler and cooler. The temperature varies greatly between day and night. The four seasons change from Yang into Yin. Everything declines gradually as Yin Qi increases. Qi and blood of the human body constrict inwards accordingly in order to adapt to the changes of Yin and Yang from “summer growth” to “autumnal harvest”. Consequently, life cultivation in autumn should conform to the changes: gradual decrease of Yang Qi and decline of all things. This can make the lung Qi clean and descend, Qi and blood harmonious. Simultaneously, people should protect the internally-lodged Yin Qi to follow the principle of “harvesting and storing the vital essence.”

Regulating the daily life

Autumn is a transitional season from summer to winter in which it turns from cool to cold. The Yang Qi in nature shifts from outward dispersion to inward constriction. This creates the conditions to store the vital essence in winter. Sleeping rhythm should be also adjusted in conformity to the seasonal changes. The ancient Chinese health preservation experts believed people should get up early and go to bed early in autumn. Getting up early promotes free circulation of the lung Qi; going to bed early prolongs the sleeping time slightly in conformity to the storage of Yin and essence and the gathering of Qi by mens of nourishment. The early risers may have physical training according to their interests. In the early morning , the autumn wind blows gently and the air is fresh. People may come to the lakeside and garden to jog, practice Tai Chi Chuan (Taiji quan), etc. This can remove the inhibitory state of the brain after sleeping, activate every organ of the body, make people more energetic and more resourceful, consequently creating the good physical conditions for physical labor, work and study.

“Muffling the body in spring and freezing the body in autumn” is a Chinese folk saying and the summarization of Chinese people's experience in health preservation as well. The saying means that people should not add clothing and quilts too early. At the beginning of autumn, summer heat does not vanish completely. When cool wind blows, people should add garments and quilts gradually, and never add too many at a time to muffle the body. In late autumn, though the wind soughs and signs, people should control clothing as well and consciously to let the body be slightly frozen deliberately. This can avoid perspiration due to wearing too many garments which cause sweat to consume Yin and body fluids, make Yang Qi release outwards, and conform to the internal accumulation of Yin and essence as well as the internal gathering of Yang Qi in autumn and prepare the conditions to store essence in winter as well.

Generally speaking, the climatic variations are relatively stable in autumn, But in late fall, particularly in September in the north of China, the cold wind and excessive rain, together with the increasingly intensified cold air make the temperature lower and lower. In this case, people are susceptible to common cold. Especially, the slow metabolism and poor circulation in old people make them fear both cold and heat. They very sensitive to weather changes. More autumnal garment should be prepared to keep the body temperature constant by modifying the number of clothes instantly. Old people should pay more attention to keeping the hands and feet warm because of their poor peripheral circulation.

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