Five Practices For Letting Go This Fall


Ancient Chinese practioners believed that certain daily practices align with  the natural cycles of the seasons to keep us healthy and balanced.  In Autumn, the leaves begin to change colors and fall to the ground.  The last remaining harvest from summer's bounty is collected.  Everything is going back to the earth and the energy is pulling inward.    

In chinese medicine, Autumn is the season of grieving and letting go so we too can pull our energy inward and prepare for the winter ahead.  

Here are five practices for letting go this season:

Breath: Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathing in its very nature is a constant cycle of letting go. Need a breathing exercise to bring your energy back to your center? Practice Ujjayi. This breath, known as the victorious breath to yogis focuses on the equanimity of the inhale and exhale.  Inhale slowly through your nose. When you exhale, open your mouth and make the “HHHAAA” sound. On the next breath, concentrate on making the same sound with your mouth close. It may sound like a hiss as your vocal cords rub together.   Focus on the breath and eventually the inhale and exhale will be balanced and of the same duration.  

De-clutter your space:   Clutter disrupts our energy and can drain us. Stacks of paper, clothing we don’t wear and “stuff” we don’t need or use can make us stagnant. But the process of de-cluttering can be an emotional and overwhelming experience for some.  That is why it is important to begin small. Start with a drawer or a shelf in a closet.   Or, if you like a challenge, then challenge yourself to get rid of five things per day for one week. Donate, repurpose or dispose of items you simply do not need. Begin to let go – of the stuff and the emotions we tie up with it.

Detoxify: Devote some time this season to physical health!   Now is a great time to focus on clean eating. A cleansing diet can help remove toxins from our body. Eliminating waste and detoxifying allows the energy to flow through the body uninterrupted; enhancing our immune system, increasing balance within and improving one’s overall quality of life.  Perhaps eliminating sugar or caffeine will be enough for you or maybe you want to do a more rigorous detox. Before beginning, contact a trusted professional to see what program might be right for you. Fall is also a great time to eat warmer foods like soups, stews or streamed vegetables.  Try this  recipe as part of a detox diet :

Warm Kale & Squash Salad

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Yields: 6 people


1 large purple turnip, washed, diced into 1/2" cubes w/ skin

1/2 acorn squash, washed, seeded, diced into 1/2" cubes w/ skin

1/2 small butternut squash, washed, seeded, diced into 1/2" cubes w/ skin

2 Tbsp. grapeseed or canola oil (for baking)

1/2 head of kale, spine removed & sliced paper thin crosswise

1/2 head of Lacinto Kale, spine removed & sliced paper thin crosswise

1 Tbsp. each, raw pumpkin seeds, ground flax seeds, crushed pecans

2 Tbsp. dried cranberries

1 Tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 carrots, diced small

sea salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp EV olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place the diced turnip, acorn and butternut squash in a large baking tray.

3. Cover with 1-2 Tbsp. of grapeseed oil, mix until coated and top with sea salt and pepper.

4. Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking and turning over halfway through. When the veggies are baked, place them in a large bowl and add all of the other ingredients, mix well making sure everything is coated with the fresh olive oil.

5. Add sea salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.


Forgive : .   Buddha once said, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”   Does the anger or resentment you’re holding onto serve a purpose? If not, let it go. Are you carrying a negative emotion with you on your journey? Let go. This is easier said than done for most but ask yourself- does this emotion serve a purpose in allowing me to live the life I want?   Sit with your feeling. Understand why it is there. If you cannot change the circumstance surrounding it, then let it go.   For some, this may be a tangible exercise. Write your feelings on a piece of paper and then tear it up and throw it away. For others, forgiveness may be the way to let go. Whatever your circumstance, find a way to grieve and move on.

Get Acupuncture:   If our energy is blocked, we may hold on to emotions that do not serve us well.   Get a tune-up! Acupuncture can help redirect that energy to help us let go.

Wrestling with Winter

by Karin Holt


Coming from Minnesota, I figure I know how to live through a winter season.


We have hundreds of cafes throughout the Twin Cities, and they are always full during the winter. People read newspapers and play chess or simply plug into their technology. There are craft stores everywhere and everyone is full of ideas to create something at home. In other words, people spend hours doing quiet things in warm places. It's an obvious calculation, considering the options.


When I was in my twenties I moved to Maryland, thinking that among the available opportunities, I would appreciate being away from Minnesota winters the most. Imagine my horror when I went to acupuncture school and the theme of "living with the seasons" unveiled an exhortation to remain quiet during the winter season. I remember thinking, "who wants that?" The endless coffee-shop hours were boring, boring, boring. Winter weather in Maryland, by contrast, is warm enough to allow me to go for neighborhood walks any time of year. Strolling. Not marching with chin tucked to the chest. Meandering. Looking at the sky and contemplating the leaves left in the trees. Better yet, I could drive a hundred miles whenever I wanted. Nothing could stop my momentum.


Except one thing: my body. Sigh. What a pain it can be, this body of mine. I wear this flesh every day. I can't change parts with stronger or more beautiful women, and it looks the same day after day. To add, well, injury to insult, my body has the nerve to break down. I get fatigued. I get digestive problems. My knee pops when I walk down stairs. Having visited frequently with my western doctors, I also visit my acupuncturist, where I hear the dreaded prescription: rest more. It's winter. Take naps. Do less.

Whenever I hear this, I want to take out a sledgehammer and put holes through walls. Nobody knows this about me because I generally act too calm to do that. I understand, though, why my patients look at me as if I had three heads when I repeat this "do less" prescription to them; they probably sense that I resist it as much as they do.


After working with my acupuncturist, I'm beginning to understand what this "inner stillness" is all about. There is something to feeling more steady that I deeply appreciate. Sitting in my rocking chair, looking outside at what remains of our snow, the churning of my thoughts is slowing, and I know what I am going to do next without reviewing my mile-long list.


All of this is to say I'm capitulating to the inevitable. What was once difficult has become easier, and I'm deeply grateful to feel peaceful in my body. In the summer time I adore the expansiveness of endless daylight and easy banter with friends. The contractive part of wintertime has been less easy to appreciate, with the cold, the dark and the quietness. This year I'm coming around to where I can appreciate the difference between a body that feels heavy from fatigue and the heaviness that comes with being solid and secure. I'm less agitated after discovering I've spent the last ten minutes staring out a window. I feel stronger. I love this steadiness in myself. In the midst of this winter-to-spring season, I wish the same for you. May you, too, harken to the sound of quietness in yourself, and heed the call for stillness. The darkness and cold are but allies in this time of learning, constantly learning, how to become stronger and wiser in ourselves.

Happy Chinese New Year!
Year of the Wooden Horse 

Goodbye, year of the water snake, and hello, year of the wooden horse! The Chinese New Year begins today. Chinese months are determined by both solar and lunar changes. Because the new year marks the beginning of spring in China, the fifteen days of celebration that start today are also known as the spring festival. Hopefully here in Maryland we'll feel some of that spring energy come through soon, perhaps even this Sunday--Groundhog Day!

Chinese animal signs are a significant part of each year. The horse connotes unexpected adventure, surprising romance, and new beginnings, according to astrologer Susan Levitt. These characteristics are most pertinent to those born in the year of the horse: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, and 2014. 

Each year's animal is associated with one of the five Chinese elements: metal, wood, water, fire, or earth. The wooden horse, also called the green wooden horse, is associated with greenery and nature. The Year of the Wooden Horse is a year for nurturing dreams, living life, growing new connections, and appreciating the world around you.

According to The Western School of Feng Shui, this year might witness the biggest shift of energies in the 60-year wheel of Chinese astrology. The past two years were associated with water, immersing us in degeneration, dissolution, chaos, darkness, and deep subconscious. For most of us, it was an unsettling time of letting go of many things, either voluntarily or forcefully. It was a time of deep soul searching, with uneasiness and change in family and livelihood. We sought spiritual practice and awakening to explain this energy and help ground us. 


In contrast, the wooden horse brings fast-paced energy, hold on to your saddle because we are going to be propelled forward. This is a year to follow your inner voice and trust your intuition, which will have a universal cosmic ch'i within it and energy behind it. Visualize your calling, imagine your best self, and move forward. Start to trot, and pace yourself well. Now is the time to quiet the mind and amplify the heart. Let yang energy take over. After much introspection, you are ready for action! 

Happy New Year!

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
by Portia Nelson

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.

In the new year, we hope you walk down a new street.