Fall is a season of change and transformation. In nature, we can see the colors shifting and leaves falling. It’s also a time for creating space and fortifying our internal energy. Animals busily stock their nests and burrows for the cold winter months ahead, and humans can do the same for emotions and immunity.
In our last blog post, we focussed on the process of letting go and creating space for what we want to become. Today, we’ll address one of the other great gifts that fall brings us: The opportunity to strengthen our resiliency and boost our immune system.
Fall and the Metal Element
Each season is associated with a different element, and Fall is the season of the metal element. Each element embodies various qualities and is connected with specific organs in the body.
Fall and the metal element are associated with the lungs. The lungs allow us to absorb Qi through our breath, which is essential for both our immediate lives as well as long-term health. Although breathing happens naturally and without effort, the way in which we breathe has a profound impact on our energy and well being.
If we breathe shallow, disconnected breaths, we’ll tend to feel nervous and ungrounded. Also, when we take shallow breaths we’re unable to fully absorb the Qi that is in the oxygen around us, which can cause us to feel weak or fragile. Over time, shallow breathing will weaken our immune system and make us vulnerable to illness or disease.
On the other hand, deep belly breathing allows us to absorb the full content of Qi that the oxygen around us contains. By taking slow, deep breaths, Qi is able to fully integrate with our body to fuel our energy and vitality.
Healthy breathing also calms our body, mind, and spirit, allowing us to experience a deep sense of who we are. By returning to our breath in a skillful and intentional way, we can deliberately cultivate a healthy sense of self and boost our immune system in the process. Deep, grounded breathing helps us return to our core and experience our connection to the earth.
Healthy lungs are also important for the process of letting go. Just as the lungs help us to purge carbon dioxide after oxygen has been used, they’re also essential for letting go of emotional sadness or depression. Just think of what your breathing is like when you’re consumed by sadness. If you pay attention to your breath in such moments you’ll realize that your breath is shallow and anxious. When this happens, the sadness and grief is harming the lungs and preventing them from doing their job effectively.
Just as our emotions affect our lungs, the reverse is also true. When we work with our lungs in an intentional way, they can be a powerful tool for letting go of sadness and finding peace and harmony. By balancing our lung Qi and practicing deep, healthy breathing, we can learn how to let go of past trauma and live peacefully in the present moment.
Maintaining Strength and Preparing for Winter
In Chinese Medicine, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of preventative medicine. Instead of just waiting for problems to arise and dealing with them then, we seek to cultivate our good health before problems arise.
Our lungs and the metal element are an essential part of our immune system’s power. By learning breathing exercises and Qi Gong practices that boost the immune system, we’re able to protect ourselves against the challenges that the world is constantly presenting us with.
In Qi Gong, we focus on two primary processes for fortifying our immune system: purging and tonifying. Purging is the process of letting go of that which doesn’t serve us. Stress, anxiety, and sadness are all experiences that we may want to release. When we carry these energies they become a burden on our body and weaken our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness. By working skillfully with our breath, we can purge the energies and let go of them before they become toxic to our body.
Tonifying is the process of strengthening our internal energy. There are many Qi Gong practices we learn to tonify and strengthen our internal Qi, and breathing is an important aspect of each. When we’ve let go of old, stagnant energy and fortified our positive energy, we become strong and resilient, both physically and emotionally.
Qi Gong for Fall Workshop
On Sunday, October 28th Lee will be leading a workshop for Qi Gong for Fall. The workshop will teach powerful breathing practices and Qi Gong exercises to help us store our energy and boost our metal element.
The workshop will take place in Santa Cruz, California, and will be available both in-person as well as online. The lessons will be recorded and all students will have access to the replays for thirty days. The workshop will run about three and a half hours and will be a great opportunity for students to learn directly from Lee. The practices are especially important during Fall but are also excellent additions to any Qi Gong routine throughout the year.
The warmth of summer is coming to a close and it’s time to store our energy for the cold months ahead. Click below to learn more about Qi Gong for Fall.