I became interested in Chinese medicine in 1990 after volunteering in a clinic for people with AIDS, where I witnessed the relief that this medicine can provide. During this time, I continued to work, volunteer in the health care field, and completed a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis upon Kinesiology at San Francisco... more
The change of seasons presents an excellent opportunity for self reflection, introspection, and renewal. The Five Element Theory of Chinese Medicine associates all energy and substance to five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each element corresponds to a particular season. Autumn is characterized by the Metal element.
At this time of year, we take the ripe fruits and vegetables from our gardens. We pick the jewels which we carefully planted in the spring, and nurtured throughout the summer. The concept of “harvest” and “metal” are important aspects relegated to Autumn, as metal/jewels are also harvested from the ground. The concept of living life in cooperation with the seasons is the traditional Chinese view of a healthy internal balance with respect to nature.
Metal corresponds to the lungs and large intestine. These are the organs of inspiration/exhalation, and elimination. The lungs receive necessary oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide, taking in what we need and eliminating what no longer serves a purpose. The large intestine functions to eliminate waste products. Both organs need to eliminate properly for survival. If the large intestine is not functioning properly, waste can build up and begin to rot or leak toxins into the body, and these toxins usually try to then escape through the skin. Constipation, emotional stagnation, acne, and accumulation of phlegm can result from a sluggish large intestine or lung.
The emotional process of elimination and “letting go” is not an easy practice for many people. Generally, in this culture we have the desire to hold on. We collect mementos, clothing, pictures, and we hold onto relationships, pain, ideas and values that may not be serving us anymore. The lesson of autumn and the metal element is that of trusting that letting go of what no longer serves a purpose will bring us what we need to receive.
Autumn is a good time of the year to eliminate unwanted materials, emotions, habits and beliefs. It is also a good time to take the opportunity to clean out both emotional and physical spaces. As we breath in, we accept what is necessary and favorable, and as we breath out, we get rid of anything that is not serving us anymore. As we go through the house and get rid of the accumulated stuff that no longer serves a purpose, we tend to think about what we value both materially and spiritually. What is no longer valuable to us may be absolutely essential to another. The elimination process is vital to prepare for receiving what is essential.
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