Sketchbook entry

The seasonal body clock

by Fletcher Kovich


Yesterday, my body felt like it was making its seasonal adjustment. People don’t realize how closely our bodies are attuned to nature and the seasons. When my own body adjusts to the incoming season, this seems to happen over a one or two day period. My energy suddenly falls to about half its usual level, and then on the following day, I feel great, but different in some way.

Chinese medicine tells us exactly what is happening here. In Autumn, the lungs are the dominant organ, so the lung energy is stronger than in the other seasons. As a part of this change, the other major organs also adjust. Since there is more energy in the lungs, there must be less energy in the other organs. Each season, the balance between the organs adjusts. Today, when I have felt my lung pulse, the level is unusually high; with me, my lung pulse is usually on the low side, so it’s particularly noticeable when my lung pulse is strong.

Why the lung energy is stronger in Autumn, I don’t know. I suspect it’s to do with the emotional and mental aspects of our makeup that the lungs are responsible for. Those elements being strong at this time of year, is somehow an advantage.

Over the years that I have watched these seasonal changes happening in myself, what has surprised me is just how much like “clockwork” the whole system runs. At, or very near to, the equinoxes (or the solstices), our bodies somehow know that it is time to change, and there is a “shakeup” to our system and we become “aligned” to the new season. What clues there are in nature that trigger this, I’ve no idea. (This year the official equinox is in two day’s time, on 22 September, even though I felt my body changing on 19 September.)

In myself, when my body is adjusting, I will feel extremely tired for a day or two, a deep tiredness; as though I am suddenly tired “in my bones”; it feels as though I am dragging a great weight, or as though my veins are filled with some heavy substance, and I just want to lie down and sleep. On these “changeover” days, this feeling usually starts at some point in the early afternoon and continues till I fall asleep that night. The only other time I’ve felt anything similar is when I’ve had a deep holistic treatment, such as acupuncture. The treatment changes your energy on a deep level and you feel tired, drained, and need to sleep. The next morning when you wake you feel great, but different in some way. Patients have often also described this process to me following their treatments. When talking about the seasonal change, I sometimes describe it by saying it’s as though nature gives me acupuncture and my energy changes and then I am aligned to the new season.

We are all closely linked to our environment and to nature. Our health is heavily affected by our environment. And when this seasonal change takes place in us, it can take a toll on our body. If you are already drained and stressed when this changeover happens and you continue to work at your usual pace through this critical period, then you are very likely to come down with a cold or the flu. This is why there are outbreaks of colds and flu when each season changes, whether it be Spring to Summer, Summer to Autumn, and so on.

20 September 2009