Autumn and the Metal Element
Autumn is a time of harvest. When we think of the cycle of the seasons we reap the fruits after the high energy of summer and before the resting period of winter. It marks the time when the energy starts to turn more inwards, becoming more yin, as the days draw in and hours of daylight lessen.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Autumn is associated with the Metal Element. It is represented by the colour white (and sometimes grey). The Metal Element governs the skin and hair of the body and is associated with the workings of the mind. The meridians associated with the Metal Element are the Lung and Large Intestine.
The Lung is the only organ/meridian to have contact with the outside and allows us to breath in fresh qi (life force energy). It allows us to connect with that which is greater than we are. The Large Intestine absorbs water and so extracts value from waste. It also has the function of releasing our physical and emotional waste.
The Metal Element is very much about elimination from the body and ‘letting go’. Just as trees release their leaves as part of their cycle of life, so the body has a number of ways of releasing what it no longer needs. The lungs eliminate on each out breathe, the bowels eliminate regularly and the skin can also be an important organ of elimination, especially when the others are inhibited in some way. Conditions of the lungs and skin are understood to be related, in both the East and the West e.g. asthma and eczema.
The emotions related with the Metal Element are grief, sorrow and sadness. Some cultures are better than others at allowing the grieving process. Whether it is through the loss of a loved one in death, a missed opportunity, a lost material item that held value, a home, pet or relationship, allowing yourself the time and space to really ‘feel’ your grief is important. Without going through the grieving process and allowing ourselves to feel sorrow how will we recognise what we had and what we loved about it/them. How do we truly value what we have in our lives?
It will be unsurprising then, to learn, that the sound associated with the Metal Element is weeping. Allowing ourselves to have a good cry sometimes is really important. It helps us to release feelings and emotions that would otherwise remain internalised. Over time this internalisation may result in physical and/or emotional symptoms.
Out of balance:
When the Metal Element is out of balance the person may be steeped in sadness and grief or suffer from depression. They may have trouble letting go and hold grudges. They may be overly critical or suffer from low self-esteem.
Physically there may be issues with the lungs such as asthma, frequent colds, COPD or allergies. Sinus problems, poor immunity and conditions of the skin such as eczema, rashes or problems sweating may also be involved. Chronic diarrhoea, constipation or other digestive issues are also typical.
Supporting the Metal Element:
There are many ways to support your Metal Element, here are a few suggestions:
- Take walks in nature and practice breathing deeply as you do so. You may want to wear a scarf on chillier days to protect yourself from the cooler breezes.
- Follow nature’s lead, start to slow down and sleep a little longer.
- Create time for more self-care, self-love and introspection. The Metal Element governs our self-worth and self-esteem so give it something to work with.
- Eat seasonal, warming, nourishing foods. Foods that support the Metal Element are pungent, savoury and white foods. White rice, white cheeses, tofu, shitake and porcini mushrooms, parmesan cheese and fish sauce. Cauliflower, turnip and many herbs fall under the Metal Element. As pungent foods tend to be strong and spicy (but not hot) in flavour you often don’t need much of them, examples would be raw onion, garlic, horseradish and wasabi. They can be used as condiments or garnishes.
- Take some time to review whether you are holding onto any negativity. Any old situations or experiences that still cause a swell of emotion (or flood of thoughts) that are not uplifting or positive in nature. Give yourself permission to release them and let them go.
- Declutter and donate – have a good clear out at home and ‘let go’ of things you no longer need.
- Remember that by releasing the old you are making way for the new 🙂
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