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Seen Through the Eyes Of Chinese Medicine

One of the most inspirational aspects of Chinese Medicine is discovering the connection between the seasons and their influence on specific organ systems, emotions, and spiritual qualities. As we begin to understand that the seasonal cycles of the Earth greatly impact our physical and emotional lives, as well as encourage certain aspects of our healing process, we are able to truly grasp the nuances and reflections of how our physical and emotional bodies bring subtle, yet clear communications from our spirit.

Fall is a time of harvest; a time of gathering up in preparation for winter. Seeds are ready for sowing and it is the beginning of a turning inward for reflection. Autumn is associated with the “Metal Element”, which is represented by the Alchemist archetype, as it is the most revolutionary of all of the five elements. It is characterized by expansion, contraction, and transformation on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels.

The Metal element within is the part of us that seeks perfection of form and function. It is our inner disciplinarian and perfectionist. It is that which desires justice and is the defender of virtue, honor, principle, and moral values as well as art and beauty. The metal element is that which evokes inspiration, awe, and reverence; and hearing the voice of the metal element is a calling of ourselves back into sacredness. It brings forth a longing to find value and meaning in what we do; to know our purpose and who we are. It is the seeker within. It is the aspect of our being which possesses an unquenchable thirst for spirit and for true quality of life.

In the physical body the metal element is associated with the lungs and the large intestine, (as well as the pertaining sense organs of the nose, throat, and skin). The expansion and contraction energy of these two organs is what joins them as a pair; both expanding and contracting; but one in a receiving manner and the other in a releasing capacity. The two united symbolize the action, function, and ability of “receiving, allowing, and letting go” physically and emotionally.

The Lungs are considered to be the Priest archetype and are the in charge of “receiving the pure Qi from the heavens”. They hold the rhythm of the body, allowing us to receive and let go by way of the breath. Through their in-breath, they bring that which is pure into our bodies, allowing life to be sustained. Through the gift of life, continued moment by moment, the lungs symbolize our connection to the divine. Throughout ancient and modern times - yoga, most meditation practices, and many healing and spiritual disciplines focus on the breath as a means of entering ecstatic states of divine connection, healing, and transformation. Thus, the lungs are our link between this realm and the spirit realm, and symbolize the life-giving divine breath within us.

The lungs also rule the exterior and protective energies of the body, guarding against invasion of the physical and energetic bodies, and playing a large part in the strength of our Immune system. (The skin is also said to be the third lung and is a reflection of lung and large intestine health and cleanliness. Likewise, the nose and throat are also considered components of the lungs and problems with any of these areas often suggests the need to work with the metal element.

The large Intestine is said to “leave us pure and brilliant”. Through its releasing nature it allows us let go of what is un-needed physically, allowing us to rid our bodies of unwanted waste materials and toxins. Yet, this organ is also connected to what we are able to let go of emotionally. One of the positive emotions associated with the Large intestine is forgiveness…in other words, are we able let go of our issues and move on with forgiveness? This is the question and suggestion that the large intestine brings to the autumn table. If we listen to the symbolic language that our body and soul communicate in, we can learn a great deal about ourselves. Symbolically speaking, the large intestine holds onto our true essence and releases impurities, helping us to let go of old, unnecessary habits, toxic emotions, and resistances. Through it’s action of physically releasing wastes and toxins, it represents our capacity to let go, release, forgive, and ‘move on’ to what is physically and emotionally more pure.

The emotional qualities associated with this season and these two organ systems are sadness, grief, self-righteousness, strength, courage, forgiveness, and purity. When sadness is present in our lives it affects the health and strength of the lungs. Conversely, when our lungs are compromised due to colds, flu’s, chronic ailments and smoking habits, they can also generate feelings of sadness and attachment. Similarly, when we have difficulty letting go of things emotionally the large intestine can be affected and present with symptoms such as constipation or pain in order to reflect the need for letting go on many levels.

Possible emotional and physical signs of an imbalanced metal element are the following: inability to shake grief; difficulty letting go of habits, belongings, suppressed emotions, old relationships; blocked energies in the throat chakra and difficulty speaking one’s truth, not wanting to open, reveal or talk; cold and cutting emotional responses, lack of inspiration, asthma, smoking habits, skin problems, constipation, frequent colds, nasal and throat disorders, allergies, dry skin, throat, intestines, emotions; pneumonia, sadness, depression, attachment and addiction, crying a lot.

Fall is the perfect time to nourish the Metal element, as this is the time when it is most vulnerable to the dryness and cold of the season. During autumn, the lungs are most easily put out of balance, are susceptible to colds and immune system deficiencies; and the large intestine can become dry easily, thus affecting the digestive aspect of the metal element. Similarly, one notices the influence of autumn on the pertaining sense organs by the extra dryness of the skin, nose, and throat that often accompany the change in season. Emotionally, feelings of sadness and grief, depression, nostalgia, and un-processed emotions often present themselves during this time of year in order to facilitate the harvesting of the year’s fruits, lessons, and reflections.

These particular organs, emotions, spiritual aspects are most vulnerably influenced at this time, and yet they also respond particularly well to this season with ability to alchemically transform. All physical and emotional qualities that have been discussed above, while possibly being exacerbated in autumn, are also best treated in the fall because the metal element, while being easily put off balance, can also be well strengthened and deeply cultivated in its autumn homeland. Fall weaves itself throughout all aspects of our physical and spiritual beings. The health or disharmony of the lungs and large intestine; sad, weepy days; reflections on what no longer serves us; the desire to find inspiration; yearning for sacredness and meaning….all of these are potentially aroused during the fall …all of these are at home in the fall…and can be healed most deeply…and most alchemically - during the fall.

During this season, support the lungs by incorporating more Yoga, Qi- Gong, or even just taking a few extra deep breaths throughout the day. If you have an acupuncturist, this is a great time of year to receive treatments to tonify the lungs or cleanse the large intestine. Nutritionally, this can be done by adding protective and purifying foods to the diet. This includes pungent foods, (especially white pungents, such as onion, garlic, chive,) turnip, ginger, radish, daikon root; dark leafy greens, such as kale, broccoli, chard, and spinach; golden, orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, yams; seaweeds and fiber; oats, rice, amaranth, quinoa.

As the leaves turn dry and fall silently to the ground to await the depths of winter, so we can learn from the Mother around us. It is a time of turning inward; a time to gather what is good, healthy, abundant and pure to our centers; a time to let go of what no longer serves us well and release what holds us back. It is a great time of year to check in with ourselves regarding forgiveness, boundaries, non-attachment, our purpose, letting go, transformation. It is a natural time to receive what is pure and sacred from the heavens while giving up the heaviness to the earth through the dance of embracing two polar-opposite energies - receiving and releasing. As we step onto the harvest field of this coming season, may we acknowledge the voices from our spirits that we find in our emotions and bodies. May we be inspired to reflect, cultivate discipline, and artistic expression; may we contract into our depths and expand into the purity of our beings; may we exercise the alchemy of transformation, by treasuring what is truly sacred in our lives and hearts.

Carrie Skye Fischer

Posted by Carrie at October 4, 2004 05:28 PM


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