Seasonal Resilience Building Practices for Autumn: An Approach Inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine
Tend to the Breath
In Part 1 of this article we saw that autumn is the season of the Lungs in Chinese medicine. Rather than high energy aerobics or forced breathing exercises, the emphasis in autumn is on relaxing movement and natural breathing.
As an example, I invite you to bring your awareness to simply notice the rising and falling of your belly with each breath. No need to force a breath or way of breathing. With this simple awareness, our body resumes its natural, rhythmic deep breathing and switches to the parasympathetic nervous system where relaxation, healing, and repair takes place.
As you exhale, let go. Let your shoulders drop and feel your breath exhaling all the way down from your toes.
Under stress, we often breathe shallowly. This pattern engages the sympathetic nervous system – our active, possibly over-busy, stress mode. Medical research finds that stress contributes to 80% of all illnesses.
With this relaxed, natural breathing, we are in harmony – grounded in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with restorative functions. Here, we can release old holding and energy patterns and become present to our current experience.
Try this simple awareness exercise several times throughout the day:
Simply bring your awareness to notice your breath.
Where is it?
What is the quality of your breath? Rough? Smooth? Quiet? Even?
You will notice, as you do this that you naturally take a belly breath, your body relaxes, and awareness expands.
To breathe naturally and freely is to be healthy and able to receive life fully. To be able to exhale deeply and completely is to be able to let go of stress, let go of the things and people that are gone, let go of attitudes. letting go allows us to receive more fully.
Allowing ourselves to simply be, to receive grace and experience peace. We can nourish and enhance our resilience as we bring our gentle awareness to notice our breath.
Honor Your Grief
Since one function of the lungs is receiving (inhaling) and letting go (exhaling), the emotion commonly associated with the lungs is grief. The lungs also store courage. Courage helps us face the things we need to.
During recent times, there have been so many periods of change, upheaval, and great loss. Whether you’ve experienced the loss of loved ones, work or income, or just the simple loss of your normal routine and social life, we all have much to grieve. Autumn is a time to reflect and open ourselves to whatever grief we may be carrying. Acknowledging what is there helps us begin the healing process.
This passage by Rachel Naomi Remen inspires my own approach to grief:
“Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain… Every great loss demands that we choose life again. We need to grieve in order to do this. The pain we have not grieved over will always stand between us and life.... Grieving is not about forgetting...It is a sorting process. One by one you let go of the things that are gone and you mourn
for them. One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again.”
Incorporating these practices into your wellness routine this autumn can have wonderful effects. You may notice that you feel more vital and ready to tackle challenges or stressors. You will harvest the benefits of tending to your resilience.
If you enjoyed this article, you’d probably love the Living Resilience Coaching Weekly Newsletter. Every week, I send tips, inspiring links from around the web, journal prompts, simple practices, and perspectives on building resilience and living your fullest life. Click here to sign up!
From my heart to yours, Suzanne Sky - Life Resilience Coach
As a Life Resilience Coach, I offer a heart-centered approach to support purpose-driven women in transition in creating the meaningful life they love. We work together in a collaborative coaching process to identify practical steps you can take in alignment with your abilities, core values, and life vision so you can live your heart and create the impact you want. My whole person coaching integrates compassionate awareness, collaborative dialogue, gentle inquiry, and an invitation to engage in journaling and embodied awareness practices.
I offer a free 30-minute Connection Session to discuss the possibility of us working together. I'd love to meet you!