Here we have it. Summer is over and fall has just begun. The summer has given way to autumn and nature is helping us to wind down from the summer heat and encourages us to begin our way inward as the outer temperatures change. We are going from a warm climate to a cool, and soon to be cold climate. The windows or air conditioning systems are shutting, and the heating systems of the home will turn on. Summer clothes shift to warmer garments and layers. We go from feeling hot to cooler/cold.
The fall brings us the qualities of cold, dry, and light. The air gets thinner and colder. Dryness starts to occur as the fall foliage changes and trees become bare. Nature goes into hibernation, and the animals are starting to save food for the winter months ahead.
DIGESTION and THE BODY
It is normal this time of year to notice an increase in food cravings. This is the time of year, menu wise, that we focus on increasing protein and fats. The lining of our entire digestive system acclimates to the climate change as the microbes shed its current layer and form a layer that is prepared to handle the summer harvest and wintery foods such as apples, pears, figs, dates, pumpkins, potatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, and other ground veggies. Digestion itself has a centripetal force about it. During the summer months as heat is prevalent in the atmosphere, the body adjusts itself so it doesn’t overheat by focusing the blood away from the summer, centrifugally, which is the direction of center towards extremities. Whereas, in the colder months the force is now centripetally where the blood is more centered around digestion and the core of the body maintains homeostasis during the winter months to keep us warmer and to digest and store foods accordingly. The body is amazing at self-regulating itself!
This is where it can get trickier. The increase in cravings for foods and certain foods that are savory and fatty can become more obvious this time of year as the body wants to store but there is also the mental component that the mind seeks to balance itself by grounding itself in ways through these foods as well. The nervous system, which is governed by VATA according to Ayurveda, is affected more this time of year since Vata becomes vitiated in its own season. It is not uncommon that people, especially of Vata Dosha or with a Vata imbalance, that they have an increase in anxiety, insomnia, dryness, and constipation.
Let’s also mention that summer ends when people return from summer vacation, and children go back to school. There is a lot of rushing around to get supplies, meetings, classes, work, etc. and then the holiday’s start to roll in which means an increase in activities inwardly (versus summer which involves more outer activities of a different quality and nature) and holiday parties, holiday’s in general. A momentum begins right as summer begins its transition and this momentum picks up speed until around the first or second week of January, where at this point, after all the holiday’s, spending, eating, drinking, meetings, and parties that many people are exhausted, depleted, lethargic, even depressed (due to the rush coming to a halt after all the months of festivities, people looking at bank accounts to see how much was spent during the holidays’, and even less sun exposure which causes SAD “Seasonal Affective Disorder” for some individuals that are that sensitive), and people simply crash and become ill. This isn’t coincidental because we are at that point transitioning into the next phase known as late winter/early spring which is governed by Kapha.
BODY AND MIND
Body and mind can work together or separate. The goal of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and Holistic Medicine overall is to help regain the balance between the body, mind, and spirit. It is mainly when all three are out of balance that people generally incur imbalances. By aligning with nature which includes cycles of the day that involve the natural 24 hour cycle of dawn (sunrise), peak sun time (at lunch), and dusk (sunset), and by connecting with the cycles of the year as per the seasons and seasonal transitions, then people can remain more on steady water with health.
It is when people sleep when they should be awake, or when people skip meals when they should be eating, or when people stay awake when they should be eating, or when people are eating cold and raw foods during cold months when warm foods and beverages should be taken, and countless instances such as these that increases the chances of disease manifesting. The body is our guide and when people are in balance….we will know it by how great we feel. When people are out of balance, the body tells this story as well through symptoms. The body communicates through symptoms and it is our job to pay attention to however big or small the symptoms are BUT more often than not, the mind creates a distraction or is easily distracted and takes the attention away from the body. Don’t worry though, the symptoms of the body will only continue to get bigger until it grabs our attention enough as it is screaming for help. That’s the short of it. That’s the simplicity of this unique system we all possess. Amazing is the intelligence of the body! The mind is very intelligent for sure but it makes a better servant than master.
In my practice, I work with many many patients on all of this, and then some. I discuss with my patients, from day one, about proper diet and lifestyle changes/adjustments that have a major impact on everyone ranging from simple health issues to complex health issues. I get to have the chance to witness over and over and over how profound Ayurveda is with its wisdom and then I have the passion to share these tools with countless others in order to help so many people find balance in their bodies and in their lives. In working with my patients we don’t only address the body and symptoms but we also work together on the mind-stuff that can be symptomatic and problematic. This journey starts even before I offer suggestions on herbs and the various treatment sessions.
HERE ARE SOME GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS TO CONSIDER:
1) CONSTITUTION: Learn what your constitution is and how far you have deviated from that natural level of homeostasis that your body was born with. This can occur through a lengthy consultation. This becomes the personal road map to your health and is a vital tool that you can carry with you day to day to become more in charge of your health and well-being. Knowing whether you are Vata, Pitta, or Kapha and its several configurations will tell you more or less how to navigate each season, time of day, and period of your life personally.
2) MINDFULNESS: A) Once you’re aware of your constitutional needs you can make choices that best support you. B) Take a pause and look at where you are in this moment. Notice if historically you tend to be that person that gets sick this time of year or just after December/January. Ask yourself what you have done to become ill in the past around this time of year and see if there are other choices you can make that involve doing something differently so that you have a different outcome. I know some people still say “I’m going to die from something anyways so why bother?” My response has always been, “yes, that is true, but we don’t necessarily have to fall apart getting there.” Health, for the most part is a choice. Even if there is some circumstances that created ill health, there can be some choices made to reduce the discomfort around such experiences. We are going to die for sure but we can go out slowly, one way or another. The health of this body also depends on mind, and with the right mind we can make better choices to take care of ourselves the best we can and reduce afflictions.
3) SLOW DOWN! SLOW DOWN! SLOW DOWN! What’s the rush anyways? When we don’t take the time to slow down, whether when we are chewing food or really being with what is right now, we not only get indigestion but we also get an upset mind, which then spills over into the body and this creates a vicious cycle. Not to mention that if people aren’t taking care of ourselves as we should, especially by heeding the warning signs of the body and whatever symptoms may be produced or producing, the body will will and eventually cause us to not only slow down but eventually stop, maybe not death just yet (though sometimes illness can make us feel that way) but definitely having us bedridden for days or weeks. Ironically enough, some people in this situation curse and yell at the body say it’s an “inconvenience” to get sick or to get sick right now, but the reality is that the body has been tell them all along to slow down and take care of the little things so that they don’t develop into bigger things. When the time is taken to attend to the little things, the body will bounce back quicker because it was acknowledged and cared for. Why create what can seem like an enemy relationship with the body when we have the opportunity to have a loving relationship instead?
HERE ARE SOME PREVIOUS ARTICLES WRITTEN TO HELP WITH WHAT ELSE CAN BE DONE:
Feeling Anxious? Read THIS article on Anxiety.
Would you like better health? Read THIS article on Digestion and Disease.
Wanting to get more into rhythm with nature? Read THIS article on Ritucharya.
Wanting to get more into rhythm with the daily cycle? Read THIS article on Dinacharya.
Concerns around Colds, Flus, and Viruses? Read THIS article on catching a cold.
Seasonal Allergies? Read THIS article on Seasonal Allergies.
Concerns around Dryness? Read THIS article on catching dryness.
Concerns around sleep? Read THIS article on sleep.
Want to learn more about how your body is your guide? Read THIS article on it.
Want to know more about balance? Read THIS article.
DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.