As I write this, the Perseid meteor shower is in full swing. Astronomers are promising a better than average show this year, with many times more matter streaking fire across the night sky. This display is the perfect example of Yang within Yin: bright fire moving fast through the darkness. And it puts me in mind of what we can do in autumn, as the Yang qi (think heat, sunlight, and fire) of the universe wanes. Our bodies mirror the outer universe and its cycles of change. All of our healthy metabolic processes, including digestion, respiration, and immune function, are powered by our Yang qi, and we need strong Yang to keep us healthy through the dark months of the year. Autumn is the time to protect and strengthen this active, generative aspect of our bodies. Here are five ways (plus a bonus) to boost your Yang qi in autumn:
1. After breakfast in the morning, eat two to three slices of fresh ginger root and drink one cup of warm water.
2. As ever, avoid cold and raw foods. Do eat warm and cooked foods, especially high fiber whole grains. These foods protect your digestive fires, which allow you to extract nutrition from what you eat.
3. Watch the sun rising and setting. The sun is pure Yang, and watching the sun brings pure universal Yang qi into your body.
4. Soak your feet in warm water infused with the white part of one leek, for ten to fifteen minutes daily. White color is associated with the Metal element, which pertains to the Lung, one of the two organs that govern immune function.
5. In the evening, eat stewed pears and/or daikon root, with ½ cup of warm water. Pears nourish the Yin (material, moist, receptive) aspect of the Lung, for balanced Lung function. Daikon can help dry the dampness, or phlegm, that can accompany seasonal allergies and harbor microbes that cause cold and flu.
6. Plus one more! Go to sleep earlier than you did in summer. By staying quiet during the lengthening nights, we move in harmony with the universal flow of energy, nourishing Yin to provide a strong foundation for our Yang qi to flourish.
By boosting your Yang qi in these next few months, you will enter cold and flu season with the resources to fight off pathogens and stay healthy all winter. The better to enjoy the quietly shining stars of the winter night sky.