Ancient Chinese Wisdom
We all witness the transformation of the landscape brought about by the changing seasons. Our bodies sense and feel the changing weather, the shortening and lengthening of our days, and many more of nature’s patterns.
Based on observations of the sun’s annual motion, the ancient Chinese created a lunar calendar dividing the year into 24 segments lasting about 15 days each. Each segment is given a specific solar term and reflects the changes in climate, natural phenomena, and agricultural production, providing a time frame to guide farmers, festivals, and other aspects of everyday human life. Having been merged into the Gregorian calendar, the system has been passed down for generations.
The sun gives energy to all living organisms on earth, and the cosmic system revolving around it regulates our living patterns on a fundamental level. Working with the natural flow of the earth is easier than going against it, and can teach us how to live in harmony with the universe and natural environment. If we can learn the basics of this ancient wisdom, living with nature instead of against it, we can make the best use of opportunities to improve our well-being.
We’re excited to share a series of articles on the solar terms for each season so you can begin to learn the characteristics and signs of the changing solar terms, and tips for how to best care for yourself as the seasons change.
Lì Qiū 立秋
Start of Autumn
Lì Qiū is the beginning of autumn, when the temperature starts to cool down. During this time, recuperation is very important to maintain good health.
According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, autumn corresponds with the lungs, and the lungs corresponds with sadness. Sad emotions can easily hurt the lungs, likewise, if the Qi in the lung is weak, it is more likely for us to feel sad. Therefore, for our mental health, it is good to maintain a calm and quiet mind.
For our diet, sour foods help keep the Qi in the lungs, while spicy foods weakens the Qi in the lungs. It is advised to eat foods that help keep the Qi in the lungs in autumn. Avoid eating onions, ginger and other pungent products and eat more sour fruits and vegetables. It is also advised to eat sesame, glutinous rice, rice, honey, loquat, pineapple, dairy and other replenishing foods to hydrate the body and strengthen the stomach.
To maintain peace in mind, combat the effects of autumn and balance out the Qi of autumn, it is important to cultivate ourselves and complement the Qi of the lung in order to recuperate in autumn.
Here is a recipe that cultivates Yin in the body and strengthens the stomach:
Chǔ Shǔ 處暑
Limit of Heat
ChǔShǔ is the end of the summer heat, when the autumn cold has not yet reached us. During ChǔShǔ the afternoon heat is not inferior to the summer season and the weather is often referred to as “autumn tiger” because the autumn sun is as mean as a tiger. It is a saying that reminds people that there will still be a few more hot summer days returning in autumn.
ChǔShǔ is when the weather alternates from heat to cool, when the Yin energy of nature reduces and the body’s Yin and Yang balance also changes following the change of seasons. This is the time when we have to adjust our living habits accordingly.
To maintain good health in autumn, it is very important to adjust our sleeping schedule and it is advised to go to sleep early and get up early in autumn.
Here is a list of advised foods to eat:
Bái Lù 白露
Báilù is the 15th of the 24 Chinese solar terms, around September 8 each year, during this time, the weather gets colder. At this time, the summer heat gradually disappears, the temperature begins to fall and the autumn air becomes thicker.
The lungs are a delicate organ that can easily be damaged. During autumn, people often feel very dry, hence, drinking water doesn’t quench their thirst, and putting on body lotion doesn’t seem to help their dry skin, all these are results of the lungs suffering from the autumn dryness.
During this time, it is advised to take more vitamin rich foods or use some traditional Chinese medicines such as ginseng, lily and almond etc. to relieve autumn dryness. It is also advised to not walk around barefoot during this time, especially for the elderly, children and people with cardiovascular disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma etc. because of their weaker bodies.
Here is a recipe that is beneficial for the lungs:
Qiū Fēn 秋分
As qiū fēn comes, the nights slowly increase. During this time, the weather gets colder and dryer, and people need to choose foods that nourishes the Yin and moisturizes the lungs. In order to take care of the Yin, it is advised to go to bed early and get up early. It is also important to pay attention to living habits and our mental health.
In autumn, the sunshine and temperature decreases. Some people feel sad because of the changing environment. If you can’t adjust your mood, it will lead to hormone and organ function imbalance, which could lead to other diseases.
During this time, the human body is prone to dry throat, cough, nasal dryness, dry skin and other autumn dryness symptom. Our diet should be based on the principle of “nourishing yin and moistening dryness”. Try to eat less spicy foods such as onions and ginger, and eat more sour and sweet fruits and vegetables. Sweet and moisturizing products such as lily, white fungus, yam, autumn pear, medlar, persimmon, sesame, etc. moistens the lungs, nourishes yin and dryness.
Autumn is a good time to exercise, but during this time, because the human Yin and Yang are in a convergent internal stage, it is advised to exercise for a shorter amount of time in order to prevent excessive sweating and Yang loss. Choose a project that is easy to move and has little activity. Young and middle-aged people can run, and seniors can take a walk in the park. As the weather gets colder, the body contracts under normal conditions. While exercising, the muscles will expand instantly. If you go out to exercise directly after getting out of bed, it is easy to cause muscle strain due to the instantaneous expansion of the muscles, so it is best to do some warm-up exercise before the exercise and let the muscles slowly expand.
Hán Lù 寒露
The arrival of Hán Lù marks the change from heat to cold climate. The Yin and Yang balance changes along with the weather, as Yang gradually recedes and Yin gradually grows. Following the changes of the Yin Yang balance in nature, our bodies have to adapt to a different routine to ensure the Yin Yang balance in our bodies.
Autumn is thought to correspond with the lungs and the Qi of the lungs corresponds to the Qi of the golden autumn. Golden autumn is when the dry-natured Qi is in full force, and during this time, it is easy for the dry-natured Qi to enter the body and hurt the Yin essence of the lungs. If one does not maintain the balance well, symptoms such as dry throat, dry nose and dry skin will appear. Therefore, it is important to maintain a diet that nourishes the lung and replenishes the Yin energy in the body. The ancients said: “To combat the dryness of autumn, one should eat sesame to replenish”. At this time, it is advised to eat more sesame, glutinous rice, rice, honey, dairy products and other nourishing foods, while also increasing the consumption of chicken, duck, beef, liver, fish, shrimp, jujube, and yam to strengthen the body. It is also advised to avoid eating spicy foods such as peppers, ginger, onions and garlic as excessive consumption of spicy foods would hurt the Yin essence of the body.
We need to pay attention to our mental health during this time. When the climate gets colder, the sunshine decreases and the wind gets stronger. This weather stirs up the sadness in people’s hearts and causes emotional instability. Therefore, to maintain a good mental health, it is advised to make the best use of situations, vent the gloom and cultivate an optimistic and open-minded heart.
Here is a autumn medicinal porridge recipe:
Shuāng Jiàng 霜降
Shuāng Jiàng is the end of autumn, at this point, the weather has gotten cold and began to frost.
It is easy to get a cough at the end of autumn, and it is also the time when chronic bronchitis is more likely to get aggravated. During this time replenishment should be the basic principle of maintaining good health.
Here is a list of fruits that are beneficial for the end of autumn:
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