Middleway Medicine Blog

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.

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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.

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The Bud

I was recently at a women’s writing group where we watched a performance by Lizzo, a voluptuous, female pop-star, expressing an uninhibited freedom to the masses with her sexy, voluptuous body. She strikingly exuded self-confidence, unabashedly allowing her whole being to shine while she sang and danced on the stage. From her example, I felt a sense of permission to break free from my own limited body images formed early in childhood and the narrow images of beauty often displayed on TV, the front covers of magazines, and the modeling my mother demonstrated. I was taught early in life that thin was the goal and that it was going to be a struggle to reach that goal. Lizzo’s ability to comfortably inhabit her female form spoke to the capacity we each have within us to accept our unique body and genius–to let go of the chains of cultural conditioning, to stop comparing ourselves to other people’s bodies, and to claim our inherent “Bud” of beauty.

What is a Bud? 

One definition, is a form put forth in a small growth that develops into a flower, leaf, or branch.

Saint Francis’s wise words on a Bud:

“The Bud stands for all things, even for those things that don’t flower, for everything flowers from within, of self-blessings; though sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness, to put a hand on the brow of the flower and retell it in words and in touch that it is lovely until it flowers again from within, of self blessing.  As Saint Francis put his hand on the creased forehead of the sow, and told her in words and in touch blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow began remembering all down her thick length, from the earthen snout all the way through the fodder and slopes to the spiritual curl of her tail . . . the long, perfect loveliness of sow.”

How does this relate to your health?  In every way. 

The Bud cannot be, if we do not put ourselves beyond the limiting images and beliefs of our childhood, culture, and self.  If you have forgotten how lovely you are, let someone remind you.  You deserve to feel good!

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