Autumn Cleansing or Detox Programs: Why Go Austere in a Time of Harvest?

Autumn Cleansing or Detox Programs: Why Go Austere in a Time of Harvest?

It’s happened. I can feel it. You probably can too. Autumn. Quite a personality she has, isn’t it?

I have a friend who has a difficult time with Autumn. Not surprising. In Chinese medicine, Autumn is associated with lungs and grief. It is a time of abundant harvest, which may bring joy, but coupled with the knowledge that that is over now or soon. And it will be a while before the next seeds are even planted. What on earth will happen between harvest and sowing…in that long dark teatime of the soul, called winter? We don’t know. But it looms.

But that is only if we are living in the future. And I am sure none of us conscious, aware folks are doing that. We are staying here in the moment. The moments of harvest. The moments after harvest and before winter, when it seems nothing is needing to be planted, weeded, watered, or picked. The cold hasn’t set in. Something happens in the moments of in-between-ness too. And we are fully present for them, right? Listening for the nothingness of the moment. Getting cool with that.

You might have noticed that loads of people lead “detox” or “cleansing” programs in the Fall, whether in the field of Ayurveda or something else. Fall is considered to be a good time to change gears and cleanse. I was thinking. Curious that, during a time of abundant harvest and fresh food, we should turn our mind towards austere, kitcheri-only cleanses. Is that going with the natural flow?

Then I remembered a Daoist view of alchemy. First we understand the direction energy is naturally flowing, learn how to support that. Then we learn how to reverse it. In certain situations. Applying this to Fall cleanses: There is abundant harvest in Nature at this time of year. The natural thing to do would be to partake in it. But if we choose to exercise discipline and go lean during a time of plenty, perhaps we can put away, dry, or can some of the produce we would have consumed and perhaps some alchemical, hard to describe change can take place that increases our awareness of gifts and gratitude.

If you are curious about autumn cleanses and which of the many out there might work for you, and if they are safe, and why you might do it, or even if you are considering leading one, it might be helpful to listen to my conversation with Scott Blossom, Lac on “Seasonal Cleanses” or “Detox Programs”.

Happy Fall,


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