Living in Alignment With Nature – Part 1

Autumn has finally arrived here in Central Texas, with rain and temperatures more reflective of what Fall should feel like. We dropped from the 80s to the 50s in less than a day. With a cool North breeze to accentuate the shift.

Times like this, I am thankful for the wonderful Five Elements Daoyin (Wu Xing Jing) form I learned some years ago and include in my Qigong and Breathwork classes and private lessons. The Lung exercise, which is associated with the Metal element and the Fall season, is particularly important right now. Fall includes changing temperatures, changing wind directions, and changing energies, all of which can make you more susceptible to seasonal colds and flus, allergies, and even more serious illness. Unless, of course, you build RESILIENCE through healthy nutrition, good sleeping habits, and doing your Lung / Metal exercise on a regular basis.

(BTW, if you’re interested in learning more about this super effective, powerful, yet easy (and dare I say FUN) health practice, go here for more on the Five Elements / Wu Xing Daoyin form.)

With the cold comes more outside training. What? Outside? Don’t you mean more INSIDE training, Karen?

No I don’t. Our summers are so brutally and endlessly hot, and we typically have to time our outside exercise and other activities to the early mornings or late evenings. Now, with the onset of cooler / colder weather in the Fall and Winter, we can enjoy our activities outside at any time of the day.

And it’s important to align yourself with the changing weather by spending time outside. Walks, yard work, sitting out by the fire pit, practicing your Qigong or Tai Chi…it’s all good. We’ve become so insulated from the weather and the changing seasons in our air conditioned / heated buildings and houses. Get out there and get some wind on your face. Shiver a bit until you move and generate some heat.

In fact, I typically do even MORE Qigong sessions outside in the fall and winter than I do in the summer, when it’s easier. Years ago, one of my Qigong and Martial Arts instructors, Master Yoo, taught us to go outside in the early morning and practice our Qigong or martial arts. First thing in the morning, the air is fresher and cleaner. And you aren’t distracted by the tasks and cares of the day.

As he put it, even if the rest of your day “go to shit”, you still accomplished something very important to your health, productivity, and creativity. And you came through on a discipline and a commitment you made to yourself.

A key point Master Yoo hammered on was to do your Qigong outside, no matter the season or the temperature. That way, your body is exposed to the natural, seasonal cycles and becomes more quickly acclimated.

As an aside, Master Yoo was one of my favorite Ki Kung (Korean version of Qigong) and Hap Ki Do instructors. His dad was Korean and his mom was Chinese, as well as a highly respected master of Qigong and Kung Fu. While Master Yoo came up through the TaeKwonDo competitive ranks, his true loves were the exercises and forms his mom taught him. And he, in turn, taught us these ancient disciplines in the hopes we would benefit from them and carry them on to future generations.

Back to the weather…

Your ability to acclimate and adjust enhances your adaptability and therefore, your resilience. Modern science, especially in the field of psychoneuroimmunology, has “discovered” (in quotes because the Chinese beat them to this by about 5,000 years) that putting yourself through discrete bouts of stress – such as exercising in higher intensity bursts followed by rest intervals, or exposing yourself to cold for a period of time – actually trains your body and brain to adapt, so you get stronger and increase your capacity to handle even more stress the next time. These adaptations occur at all levels: physical, mental / emotional, even spiritual…and from the systemic (i.e., circulatory system, lymphatic system, digestive system, etc.) all the way down to the cellular level.

I’ll have more to say about living in alignment with nature in future posts. For now, be sure to get outside and get in sync with the current season, however it may be manifesting in your area of the world right now.

You Can Do It!

Dr. Karen

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