In Chinese medicine, each season is associated with an emotion and organ in the body. Summer has slipped by, but the warm days linger on, the Fire Element. Summer is a time of our heart’s expansion and growth, the discovery of new friendships and activities. Now the days grow cooler, as the earth changes we naturally turn towards more introspective, quieter activities. Just as the trees lose their leaves and the plants energy goes inward, we too focus on the essentials. This year, as hot days continued into the start of fall, fire burned into the days of the brilliant changing leaves. The sun beckoned us to stay outside.
Now the cold invites us to put on more clothes, but is it as easy for us to just go with these changes emotionally? Some of us love when the cool air settles in and breathe relief. Others have a hard time transitioning to the shorter days, the diminishing light. This is the time of year many people feel melancholy. The passion of fire diminishes. Fall is the time of letting go, asking us, what do I need in order to move forward in my life? We don’t expect the trees to keep their leaves.
The organs associated with Fall are the Lungs and the Large Intestine. Both organs are involved with absorption and elimination. The Lungs bring in oxygen and the large intestine absorb nutrients and eliminates waste. With the wild fluctuations in temperature this time of year: hot and dry patterns are followed by and damp cool patterns, it is easy to see how the lung is exposed to the physical elements. The cold damp brings on a common cold and the dry weather causes coughing and skin conditions. The skin is considered the third lung: rashes, eczema, and psoriasis are the result of dryness and are often exacerbated at this time of year.
In Chinese philosophy, Fall is the season associated with Grief and Longing. Especially for those of us entering the autumn of our lives, or those of us passed into the winter of our life. Now is the time not to over exert ourselves, we speak when necessary, behave calmly, exert our will quietly. It’s natural to think of the people we have lost in our life and how quickly the year has gone by.
When we avoid experiencing grief or sadness, by walking away or staying continuously distracted, we miss the opportunity to release the tears within, unshed, the chest tightens and we continue to hold bck tears, lingering resentments, a deep unnamed longing. Facing grief allows us to release the tears within, strengthen and deepen our relationships. Grief releases our spirit so we are free to breathe in what nourishes us. Without being able to express our sadness and grief, an incapacity to forgive ourselves or others inhibits the spirit. So many of us carry unshed tears for years, even decades.
By clearing away we are able to take in the purity, the crispness of the autumn air, filling the Lungs, the inspiration of the breath. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Lung is described as the receiver of the pure from the heavens. It’s Yang pair, the large intestine allows us to eliminate to let go of what we do not need. Clearing out any negative feelings towards our self leaves us receptive to a new vision of who we are. Autumn restores us to our essence, reveals what we find most precious in our life. Autumn is the time of year we can see ourselves most clearly. As the trees becomes more skeleton like, we can see through the landscape, there is a turning inward.
In Chinese philosophy autumn is the season of the Metal Element. The metal element returns us to our origin, to the seed. Metal within our self is like the precious metals found deep within the earth. Sometimes it is necessary to nurture the metal within us. When our metal element is out of balance we have problems with self esteem. Perfectionist tendencies create unease, and even dis-ease. We cannot sense our value, so we compensate by seeking things of value outside of our self. Acquiring these things will not shift the internal sense. People with a metal imbalance seek respect, quality, and recognition from the outside because they feel the lack of worth within.
Many people have a hard time understanding the metal element. When I listen to a great piece of music I open up in a way that the intellect does not grasp. Listening to music can concentrate the mind. One of my teachers used to say the truth is so difficult to grasp because it is so simple. You feel worked up and then you simply walk and there’s spaciousness and freedom. That is metal, it cuts cleanly, effortlessly. It is so simple that most people miss the mark by trying too hard, making things more complicated. Simple, but not easy. Simple, but not easy, elegant in its efficacy, tuning our own instrument so we are not too tight or lax, so the song emerges from our depth with ease and grace, the harmonious gems within shine forth.
Wisdom is narrowing our goals while maintaining a reasonably high bar. Continuing to lower our expectations of our self and the people we love. And forgiving ourselves for where we fall short, never walking away from our shadow side, as Jung said, what we fear we empower. To grasp the preciousness of our own being is to love the areas where we struggle, to accept our shadow is to be in balance with the fall season. We open to the grief, sadness, losses and disappointments in our life and enter the autumn of our life with an understanding of our fallibility. Awareness precedes change and we work humbly and diligently making small changes to bring about the positive direction our life flows, this renews us on every level of our spirit making us vibrant.
The Lungs are associated with clear thinking and communication, a positive self image, the ability to relax, let go, and be at ease. New ideas come from this connection with self and a clear purpose. When we are out of balance there will be grief and difficulty dealing with the hardships and losses in our life. If healthy we can express our grief. It is important to comprehend our grief this allows us not to become resilient and not weakened physically and psychologically,
The gifts of being balanced in this arena in our life are the ability to experience grief without drowning in overwhelm. Being willing to seek inspiration, manifest elegance, have a reverence for what is most precious to us in this life, be in awe. We have let go of unskillful perfectionist tendencies. When we have a healthy self worth, we respect our self and others, and reflect others values back to them, we are easier to live with and work with.
We bring freshness to situations that have become clouded, let go of what needs to be let go of, the one aspect that could have been improved upon, and find the jewel in all the muck.
What takes your breath away?