Fall fasting and renewal

Early autumn rain cleanses away smeared heat.
A grateful traveler takes in crystal skies and crisp air
Distant mountains seem more vast and blue,
And the sound of the waterfall grows more loud. Cleansing, from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations, by Deng Ming-Dao

When I went back east to visit my daughter in upstate New York, I got to experience the true crispness of autumn. It felt so good! On my return, I was actually disappointed that it was warm here. Now we are starting to get these fall cleansing rains. Just as this was happening, I happened to open to this page of the daily meditations in 365 Tao.

The commentary goes on to remind us that after the busy-ness of summer, it is now time to slow down:

Autumn is coming. The air becomes fresh and crisp. The fruits of summer are being harvested; the heat of labor is beginning to cool. There is a more relaxed feeling in the air: The fiery activity of summer is replaced by the celebrations of autumn.

In spring, we all had to struggle to make the ascendancy of the year. In summer, we reveled in the glory of fire and vigor. Now, we can begin to let things relax. Just as the pumpkins are beginning to fill out, the squash is hanging heavy and golden on the vines, and the leaves are starting to hint of warm colors, so too can we look forward to mellowness and quietness.

This is the time for harvest. But every planting and growing season also leaves behind excess and inevitable waste. The dust of summer still lingers. The stubble in the fields will have to be burned. We must harvest fully and then clean up fully. Harvest is also the time of cleansing and taking stock.

Many of my clients right now are complaining about how tired they are. I can’t emphasis enough how, after this very active time of summer, we now must slow down and rest. As the passage mentions, it is also a time to cleanse.

In the fall and winter, when Yang is declining, it is better to cleanse using clear broths of root vegetables and mushrooms. Here’s a simple recipe I once found:

Broth with root vegetables and mushrooms

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup carrots, thinly sliced

1 ½ inch piece of ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced

2 T extra virgin oliv oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 cups vegetable stock or water

2 T light miso or to taste

2 scallions, chopped

a small sevaIn a heavy pot over medium heat, sauté shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and ginger in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté one minute. Add vegetable broth or water and simmer covered for another 5 minutes or until carrots are tender. Turn off heat. Dissolve miso in a small amount of hot broth and stir into soup. Add scallions and cover. Let stand 2 minutes, and serve. For a hardier soup, and some additional cleansing properties, you can add things like burdock root, cabbage, parsnips, and red onions, and simmer a little longer than 5 minutes.

I don’t recommend fasting for too long based on Chinese Medicine principles, but when cleansing, I keep the food really simple: whole grains, steamed vegetables and fish and tofu. I have a lot of pineapple, which is anti-inflammatory, either on its own, or in smoothies with a soy/green protein powder. Spirulina and flax or fish oils are also good to add in. I try to eat lots of greens to alkalize and cool the body.

Green Soup

A great way to alkalize and get your greens chock full of vitamins and minerals is this cleansing/anti-inflammatory Green Soup:

1 bunch broccoli, broken into small flowerets

1 bunch spinach, already washed makes it easier

Vegetable broth

1 Avocado

1 tsp Turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

I prefer to use all organic ingredients. Blend the broccoli flowerets and spinach a little at a time in a blender with vegetable broth. I just add a handful at a time, pour in some broth, blend, add more, until it’s all blended, adding enough broth so it blends well, and is a nice “pureed soup” consistency. At the end, add the avocado. Pour the mixture into a pan, and warm very gently, do not boil, just warm long enough to heat through. Add 1 tsp turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste. Some people like to add other spices or Worchester sauce, but I like it simple. Enjoy and feel healthy!!!

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