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How To Protect and Strengthen Your Lungs In Autumn

Japanese woodblock print of forest and mountains

Dancing gold
The forest rustles
Alive with surrendering leaves
— Lao Xian


Fall is the time of year when the Lungs and immune system are working hard to help your body adapt to the changing weather.

Working together, your body’s organs are a networked system that receives, transforms and transmits energy. A balanced system is a healthy system, and in Autumn, you want to make sure that your Lungs get tuned-up.

Lungs Are Most Sensitive In Autumn

The Lungs are the focal point of your body’s energy network in Autumn. Now is the time to do some very simple things that will protect your Lungs from the forces that cause cold and flu, and prepare them to deal with the dampness and cold that comes with Autumn and Winter.

Five Ways To PROTECT Your Lungs

  • Use a scarf or collar to cover the front and back of your neck when you go outside.
  • Avoid drafts and wind.
  • Wear a dust mask, or other cover, when working around dust, spores or other airborne contaminants.
  • Use Chinese medical herb formulas, or other internal protection, to guard against colds, flu and other contagious illnesses.
  • Be mindful of any intuitive insights you may have regarding your health.

Five Ways To STRENGTHEN Your Lungs

  • Eat foods that nourish the Lungs. These include: daikon radish, lotus root, maiitake mushrooms, and Chinese herb formulas.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Reduce and keep stress low. (Easier said than done ... but doable.)
  • Pace yourself. Make sure to save some of your energy).
  • Begin developing—or maintain—an inner practice  like meditation or deep breathing to help your body relax and rejuvenate.

So, as the days continue to shorten and the nights get longer, remember to slow down to match the deepening  of the seasonal energy. 

Conserve and enjoy!

The Ant ... The Grasshopper ... and Oriental Medicine

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Ahh ... Summer—the Season of Luxurious Growth!

But while luxuriating in the warmth and fecundity of Summer’s intoxication, we run the risk of getting lulled into an idyllic sense of laisse faire, forgetting to prepare for the next round of Autumn and Winter.

This dichotomy of sensibilities is quite human; so much so that Aesop took the time to tell us a little story about it back in the days of Ancient Greece when he wrote The Ant and The Grasshopper.

The Silk Road integrated ancient Indian, Persian, Arabian, and Hellenic cultures, enabling cultural exchange between Western and Oriental civilizations. So it’s not surprising to find the contrasting awarenesses of Yin and Yang conveying the practical wisdom of Ant and Grasshopper.

Yin and Yang: Winter and Summer: Ant and Grasshopper

Ancient Chinese doctors told people then, what we tell people at BIOM today: Become aware of seasonal energy and be mindful of how it affects your health.

It’s so easy to relax into the easy-going feeling of Summer because there is so much Yang, creative, supportive energy available to us from Nature.

Let’s see how Aesop saw this perennial dynamic playing out between the Ant and the Grasshopper a few thousand years ago in Greece ...

The Ant and The Grasshopper

In a field one Summer’s, day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

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The concept of Yin and Yang informs us of the contrasting nature of everything that exists—including ourselves.

Each of us is part Ant and part Grasshopper. In Summer our Inner Grasshopper tells us to relax, take it easy; Don’t worry ... be happy!; while our Inner Ant is telling us that we need to stay balanced, so while enjoying these airy days of Summer were also building up our supply of Chi so it’s there to fuel our Immune Systems when Autumn and Winter return.

It’s the same process one goes through in storing fuel, like wood or propane, prior to the onset of the cold weather. This is ANT preparation. On the other hand, the reliance on electricity plays to our unconcerned GRASSHOPPER nature, as we assume it will always be there when we need it; which it is ... until a storm comes and knocks the power out.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

It’s so unwittingly easy to get used to the bonanza of SOLAR ENERGY that’s the essence of Summer. It seems like its ease will flow on forever; the warmth, the juicy, tasty fruit ... while the Grasshopper-mind blocks out the reality of mosquitos and disregards that errant leaf that falls early, laden with indications of changes to come.

Without a cultivated awareness of the Cycle of the Seasons, it’s easy to spend our energy freely, without any thought of the changes waiting on the upcoming pages of the Calendar.

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And while Summer may seem like a time of complete freedom, as the Grasshopper thought, the Ants knew better. They knew the abundance of Energy-Chi in Summer was Nature’s way of giving us time to repair, replenish and prepare for the return of the time of Yin ... of Emptiness ... the return of Winter: a time when we MUST consume energy to stay warm and HEALTHY. So if we don’t SAVE some of our Summer energy/Chi, we may find our selves out of energy come Winter. Health-wise this translates into a weak Immune System.

Ask yourself: “How much energy/Chi do I have in reserve.” And act according to your answer.

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

The Ant-Grasshopper dichotomy becomes more discernible as we age, as it becomes apparent that more energy—Chi needs to be devoted to maintaining or reclaiming HEALTH.

When we’re young, in the Summer of our lives, we had/have more energy… the Yang phase of life. As we get older ... our Yin time ... we have relatively less energy, and need to be mindful of what we can do to preserve and supplement our Energy—our Life Force, our Chi—our HEALTH. This is the focus of Oriental Medicine.

“Why bother about Winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.”

The insight Oriental Medicine gives us is the same that Aeosop gave the world when he told the tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper. Be mindful; anticipate and prepare for the challenges your body and mind will face, again and again, through the seasons of the year, and the seasons of your Life.

But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.

Summer is the time to rebuild the organ energy that was used earlier in the year, so you’ll have it again when the leaves fall and cold returns.

... When Winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the Summer. Then the Grasshopper knew ...

What we need to remember: When Autumn and Winter return, our IMMUNE SYSTEMS are on HIGH ALERT, and being on alert all the time is stressful. When a bacterial or viral intruder gets into the body, which is inevitable, energy RESERVES will be called upon to fight the foe, and then rebuild afterwards.

So get in touch with your Inner ANT today, and build the RESERVES you’ll need for the rest of the year.

Moral of the Story: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

Oriental Medicine can help.


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The Ant and The Grasshopper

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

Related Links

Summer Health: BIOM Goes To The Black Sheep Gathering
Tips For Building House Chi
Staying Healthy In Summer
Staying Healthy in Autumn
Staying Healthy in Winter

Planting a Fall-Winter-Early-Spring Garden

NOW! is a good time to begin planting your Fall-Winter-early-Spring garden, so your seeds will have the benefit of plentiful late-Summer Sun to get a strong healthy start.

Our HUGELS are still in their ‘morphing’ phase and the soil too ‘rough’ for the gentle needs of seeds ...


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... so we’re focusing on a portion of our double-dug beds which have composted layers of last year’s maple leaves, and a heaping helping of leftovers from a couple of mules who live in the neighborhood ...

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... and because we just had a much needed and APPRECIATED soaking Summer rain, the seeds we just planted are making their move — UPWARD : )

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The cast of characters include: kale, mustard, turnips, parsnips, chard, onion and of course: FUKUOKA’s beloved White Clover

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But one of our hugels IS ready to go — the MUSHROOM HUGEL. We built it this past Spring and it’s designed to be a vegetable garden in its center ...

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...  while the windfall ALDER wood that makes up the platform of this raised bed will be the home of one hundred SHITAKE and OYSTER mushroom spawn plugs ...

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... we should get about five years of mushroom flushes, a few times a year, until the wood transforms into soil and the whole hugel becomes a mounded vegetable garden.

... in the meantime ... we DRILL ...

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... HAMMER ...

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... and WAIT ...

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... while continuing to work (somewhat patiently) on the rest of what Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching refers to as the Ten Thousand Things ...

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“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Related Links

Hugeling at BIOM
The Ant ... The Grasshopper ... and Oriental Medicine
Mid-Summer Checkup: Heat-Related Health Problems

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IMPORTANT: All information on this Web site is provided for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of a local Oriental Medicine practitioner, biomedical doctor, experienced coach, or martial arts instructor.