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Summer turns to autumn

by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.


After spending the day at Talent Harvest Fest,  my heart was warmed by community and my body was exhausted. The festival happened on a perfect sunny day following our first stretch of cool rainy weather. Everyone was so happy to be savoring the last days of summer. I chatted with many people about how they just wanted to be outside; prolong going home to laundry, work related projects, and making dinner. It felt like as a community we were eager to harvest every drop of “fun” from summer, yet there was a tangible taste of fall in the air.  After the festival, I realized my heart  was in summer and my body was ready to rest in Autumn.  

My personal experience speaks to why the change of season tends to make our health unstable.  Switching from the “expansive” spirit of summer (think travel, going out more, and staying up late), to autumn a more “contractive” time of  going inward, being at home, and sleeping more can be a challenge.  Adjusting our lifestyles to the changing needs of the season is something most people do not consider, it simply is no part of our cultural consciousness. However, learning to honor the changing needs of your health in relationship to the season is a wise way to improve your health.

Traditional Chinese Medicine associates autumn with the metal element and the Lungs. This season governs organization, setting limits, and protecting  boundaries.  The energy of the lungs is “letting go”,  autumn is a perfect time to let go of anything that you may be holding on to. Special attention is given to Lung health as they are the most vulnerable during this season. Emotionally, the lungs coincide with feelings of grief and sadness. Unresolved grief, sadness, and difficulty with letting go will stagnate the lung meridian and make one more susceptible to illness, often causing symptoms of chest tightness, cough, or low immunity.

Awareness is the first step in making changes to your health. 

The practice of cultivating  awareness that your lifestyle needs to adapt to the change of seasons is a huge step for your wellness and quite intuitive when given attention.

5 ways to stay healthy this Autumn

1. Breathe deeply

-take the time to breath deeply and fully exhale…letting go all the way of the breath. Come back to deep breaths all day long.

2. Forgiveness 

-take advantage of Autumn’s energy of letting go to forgive others and yourself

3. Purge /Give away

-purge what you do not need in your closet, shed, heart…relocate things to friends. Make room for  your inward work.


-the ultimate letting go. Aim for 1 more hour of sleep per night.

5. Take immune tonics

-Recommit and stock up on your immune tonics; Vitamin C, D, Tonic herbs, medicinal mushrooms, etc.

Cheers to gracefully transitioning from an external to a internal focus, to letting go of what you don’t need anymore, and to embracing Autumn.

Good Neighbors

by Clark Zimmerman, L.Ac.

When my wife and I moved to Talent 13 years ago, we came seeking a slower and more relaxed life.  After growing up in Indianapolis and then living in Portland for many years, I was more accustomed to the pace of city living.  I had a lot to learn about what slowing down really meant.  

One day I was running a little late to work so I started to speed.  I quickly caught up to another car and began tailgating it.  After feeling frustrated because I was getting to work late, I decided that there was no safe way to pass the car in front of me, so I slowed down a bit and accepted the situation.  

When I got settled in my office and opened the door to greet my first patient, he said “It looks like you were running a little late to work this morning.”  I was a little perplexed with his statement until he immediately followed with “that was me you were tailgating.”  I felt quite uncomfortable. Then he smiled and said “Let me give you some friendly advice: You aren’t living in the city anymore and this valley is smaller than you think.  Just pretend that everyone is your neighbor.  That way you will think a little more about the things that you do.”  His smile told me that I was forgiven, but the advice he shared has stuck with me.

As the world becomes busier and we connect more online, we seem to have less contact with the people around us.  Fewer people know their neighbors, fewer people shop at the corner store, and fewer people move around without their eyes glued to their phones.  We are becoming more isolated, even though so many of these tools promise to make feel more connected.  We may be more networked, but we are becoming less connected.   When we get our information about people from a social media feed, or we get our products through the mail, we don’t always realize the true cost.  

There are a lot of positives that come from connecting with people in person.  Rather than living in sound bites or snippets, we get to have a more complete experience.  We get to see all of a person when we are physically with them:  their gestures, their expressions, their eyes.  Often times when we can’t see all of a person, we start to fill in our own ideas of who they are.  This is a less authentic picture that is often full of inaccuracies.  The less we know someone, the more likely we are to misjudge, mistreat, or fear them.  One of the reasons that people have such a fear of clowns is because when they are wearing all of that makeup, you can’t see their true face.  When we don’t really see people we are more likely to fear them.  We make up stories about how they are different and thus not entitled to the same respect and love as the people in our family or “tribe.”

Many of us put on our best face if we are around friends or neighbors.  We realize the importance of keeping the peace with people we have regular contact with, or those we may depend on in difficult times.  We tend to behave differently when we are anonymous.  Whether we are driving down a busy road or leaving comments on an online forum, being anonymous can lead people to behave in ways that are less considerate and less patient.  We can get so caught up in our own experience and challenges that we lose sight of the impact of our words and actions.  This seems to be becoming more common these days.  As the world gets more crowded and the pace of life picks up, it can be challenging to see the people around us as people, rather than as a faceless crowd of “others”.  We can have less capacity for tolerance.  

If however, we imagine everyone around us as a dear friend or neighbor, a daughter or a grandson, something seems to change.  We see them more as people, and less as interference.  We see the cars on the road less as traffic, and more as people that are stuck in cars just like we are.  We have a little more patience and care to give to situations because we are all in it together.  With this in mind, I think one of the greatest things that we can do to help the world is to lift up our heads and connect with people face to face. Not just people who are like us, but people we come across everyday.  The more we are willing to meet different kinds of people, and spend a little uninterrupted time with them, the more we begin to realize that we are all pretty similar, even though we have differences.  This begins to widen our circles of who we consider to be neighbors, of who we consider to worthy of our love and respect. 

I leave a little earlier for work these days.  I enjoy the ride more thanks to the patience and advice of my good neighbor.

How to Meditate Your Emotions Away

by Ryder Johanson, L.Ac

There’s a growing awareness in our society that stress can wreak havoc on your health.  I’d be surprised to find a single health care provider of any flavor that wouldn’t suggest stress management is an important part of maintaining good health.

Meditation is something I’m seeing more and more health experts recommend as a potent tool for relieving stress.  Many people are aware that it’s hard to beat meditation when it comes to stress relief, but there’s often a hang-up when I suggest that someone try meditation.  The most common response I hear is something along the lines of: “There’s no way I could meditate—my mind is just way too busy.”  Many of these people have even tried meditation before and found it an amazingly frustrating experience because their minds just won’t shut up and the harder they try, the worse it gets.  I can understand, then, why meditation doesn’t seem like the most appealing tool for stress relief.

The funny thing is that that’s kind of the point of meditation: all of your baggage, the things you’ve been avoiding, your suppressed emotions are going to come bubbling up. 

That has definitely been my experience.  When I discovered meditation and was convinced of all the wonderful benefits and experiences that it could open up, I jumped in with both feet and meditated as much as I could.   I thought meditation was a tool I could use to escape all the stressful emotions in my life.  I experienced sublime periods of relaxation and moments when I forgot all my stresses.  And that relaxation often translated into the rest of my day.

But after that initial “honeymoon” period things got a lot harder.  It became more difficult to reach the places in meditation that had come much more effortlessly before.  And the anxiety and agitation bouncing around in my mind seemed to be harder to quiet down—maybe it was growing or maybe I was just becoming more aware of it.  My plan to meditate all my emotions away wasn’t going so well.

I came to realize that the only real way to release stressful emotions was to let myself fully feel them and even express them.  I started to let myself experience the anxiety and frustration of not being able to quiet my mind.  That would lead to memories of other things in my life that would bring up anxiety and frustration.  It started to become easier to express to people in my life the things that were frustrating me.  With that came relief—the relief of getting the weight off my chest—and a sense of empowerment: it was OK for me to stand up for myself and set my boundaries. 

After a while I started to realize that there was more than suppressed anger that was agitating my mind.  Underneath my angry, teenage self was a sad, fearful, ashamed childhood version of myself—some would call it my “inner child”.  And it was wounded.  I always knew it was there, but it was something I had rejected because it was too painful to experience. 

I was blown away at how powerful it was to let myself remember and re-experience all those childhood traumas and have it be OK that I was afraid and hurt.  And despite what I had previously expected, I didn’t wallow in depression and self-pity for weeks on end.  Letting myself fully experience those painful emotions started to neutralize the “charge” they had in my mind.

I’ve learned that this is a common experience among meditators.  After the initial peaceful and even blissful experiences in meditation, there comes a time when all of the painful thoughts and emotions you’ve suppressed come up to be felt and integrated into the new “you” you’re becoming.  St. John of the Cross called it the “dark night of the soul.”

Meditation didn’t turn out to be the totally relaxing and blissed-out experience I expected, but it’s also turned out to be better than I expected.  More and more I’m finding relief from stress not by avoiding it or through coping mechanisms (which even some forms of meditation can be), but by addressing the thoughts and the emotions underlying the stress.  It’s part of what people are talking about when they say there’s “no way around your problems but through them.”

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