Autumn marks the end of the growing season, having provided the harvest, nature now makes everything bare. In this season nature lets go of its abundant creation of the past year in a grand final display.

Just like in nature, our bodies transition through ‘seasons’ with different organs, physiology and aspects of ourselves in focus at different times of the year. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the season of autumn is the element of Metal, which relates to the yin organ of the Lungs, paired with the yang organ the Large Intestine.

In nature autumn is a time of falling away, the release of outer-directed energy; leaves turn colour, drop and return back to the earth, enriching it to promote the coming of new leaves and new growth.

We can learn more about ourselves by observing the cycles of nature. Trees in autumn don’t stubbornly hold onto their leaves because they might need them next year. The energy of this season, more than any other, supports our letting go of the old and stale in our lives, leaving us receptive to the pure and new, encouraging us to eliminate what we no longer need and creating space and vision for the future.

Emotionally the element of Metal is associated with grief, loss and sadness, grief cleanses us of what is no longer needed in our lives. The element of Metal is also associated to the positive emotions of inspiration and courage. When we align ourselves with nature and the cycles of the seasons, when we embrace ‘letting go’ and separation in the same way that Autumn embraces releasing the harvest we have the opportunity to transform grief, loss, sadness and depression into inspiration and courage.

The Large Intestine has the function of eliminating what is unnecessary or toxic from our physical bodies. On a mental and emotional level we can consider the function of this organ as helping us to the release mental patterns and programming that no longer benefits us, eliminating mental garbage, allowing our minds to become less noxious and cluttered. The Lungs are the ‘Commanders of Qi’, the first place the energy enters our body. The air in autumn takes on a new crispness, the opportunity to fill our lungs with that clean, cool autumn air. A time to take in the pure and new and to be inspired by the possibilities of the future. The Lung and Large Intestine work together as a team, one taking in the pure, the other eliminating waste.5 yin organs

As nature moves into a period of rest, it is a time that we too can release and rest, being careful not to overexert. The time for ‘putting it all out there’ – the summer – has passed. Now is the time to turn inwardly, reflect and release what is no longer needed. It’s a great time to reorganise, clean and donate and to get outside, enjoy and draw in the freshness of the autumn air.

As the heat of the summer passes and we embrace to cooler climate we can also support our physiological and emotional transition by eating the foods of the season. Autumn is associated with dryness so its important to ensure we are drinking enough water, we can move away from the cooling foods of summer and nourish our body and our immune system by embracing warming and moisture rich foods such as garlic, ginger, lotus root, leek, capers, mushroom, pumpkin, sweet potato, nuts and seeds, apple, pear and honey.

My top three tips for embracing the lessons of nature and living aligned the cycles of the seasons this Autumn is to:

  1. Get outside, go for a walk, breathe in the crisp, fresh air
  2. Combat dryness by drinking enough water and eating foods from the season
  3. Turn inwardly, reflect and release negative patterns – try letting go of a habit that doesn’t serve you


Nicole teaches Integrative Qigong on Wednesdays at 7.45am. (Additional Qigong classes are taught on Mondays at 7.45am with Joanna Nation.) Head to our timetable to book your classes.

Written by Qi-Gong teacher Nicole Betts