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Natural Awakenings Jacksonville-St. Augustine

Happy Fall Y’all

Oct 29, 2021 09:31AM ● By Megan R. Weigel
We have come to a crossroads of sorts this autumn, having spent most of the past year and a half in isolation and introspection. You may feel the urge to open the gates and run free as fall seasonal gatherings start: football games, Thanksgiving, travel to cooler and more colorful places. Thousands of years of ancient forms of medicine, like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, tell us this is the time of year for letting go, turning inward, and gathering what you need for nourishment. So, how do you reign in the FOMO, enjoy enough to be fulfilled, and avoid being depleted?

According to TCM, autumn is the time of the metal element, composed of the lung and large intestine meridians. The lung holds on to vital new breath and the large intestine lets go of waste. These meridians can be supported with foods that are heartier, preparing us for winter, yet also cause a slight bitterness, helping us to focus and organize the year’s harvest. In general, foods that are baked and sautéed for easy digestion are helpful in the fall. Soups and stews with root and sulfur-rich vegetables, mushrooms, grains and certain greens (watercress, chard, mustard greens) allow easier digestion of higher fiber foods. Adding in small amounts of sour-flavored foods stimulates inward focus.

Ayurveda teaches us to fill the fall with stability, groundedness, warmth, and close and loving relationships to soothe the vata dosha—the most powerful of the three doshas (energies that define every person's makeup); it controls basic bodily functions as well as the mind. Remember, trees let go of their leaves in the fall. They stand sturdy as the leaves blow away; they don’t frantically try to pick up all the leaves! Reach out to loved ones and activities you find deeply satisfying, rather than satisfying your to-do list. If you are struggling to feel grounded, diffuse essential oils, like vetiver, geranium and citrus oils. Incorporate a daily gentle yoga practice that includes a sun salutation, cat-cow pose, child’s pose, legs-up-the-wall pose, and savasana.

With the approach of Thanksgiving, gratitude comes to mind. Its transformational power has been associated with improvements in subjective happiness, life satisfaction, and even the release of oxytocin (also known as the “love hormone”). Harvest your gratitude this season with a new journal. Perhaps list three things you are grateful for each day or start a new dinner conversation routine to involve the whole family and pass around the journal. Create a new tradition by purchasing a piece of cotton fabric (large enough to be a tablecloth) and permanent markers, and on Thanksgiving asking family members to write what they have been most grateful for this year on the tablecloth. Bask in the abundance of your harvests each year when you bring out the tablecloth.

Finally, consider a visualization of letting go to create space and stability. Sit comfortably, preferably in a patch of sun. Let your breath become slow and deep, inhaling through your nose to a count of five and exhaling to a count of five. Picture a scene of beautifully colored leaves swirling about on the ground in the breeze underneath a clear blue sky. Imagine the leaves as things you have let go; things that may be heavy, fragile, sad, completed or no longer serving your highest good. See how the wind carries them gently away. If emotions well up, focus on deepening your breath and expanding your chest from front to back and side to side. Allow the emotion time to neutralize as you breathe. When your leaves are out of view, focus on the warmth of the sun on your body. Feel the space you have created in letting go. What is the first thing that comes to your mind? Send gratitude to that thing, that person, that word. Take a few more deep breaths. Let your last exhale be an audible sigh.

 Megan R. Weigel, DNP, is a nurse practitioner specializing in neurological care in Jacksonville, where she brings a unique integrative medicine and holistic nursing perspective to her practice, First Coast Integrative Medicine, located at 14215 Spartina Ct., Ste. 200. She has been a multiple sclerosis certified nurse since 2005 and a nurse practitioner for more than 20 years. She is also a board-certified advanced practice holistic nurse. For more information or to make an appointment, visit FirstCoastIntegrativeMedicine.com