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Eastern Medicine & Natural Healing, Health for the Body, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Autumn and the Metal Element

December 17, 2015
The Metal Element

Happy Holidays! I want to continue our discussion on the fall season and how the energy of this time should guide you in your everyday lives. Autumn is represented by the metal element. Precious metals such as gold and silver reflect the pure and valuable substances, whether physical or emotional, in our lives. The metal element symbolizes order, organization, setting limits, and protecting boundaries. It’s a time to finish those projects you started during the spring and summer and harvest the rewards (or “medals”) of your hard work. While spring and summer was a time to be outdoors and play in an external environment, we should turn inwards and inside during the fall and winter seasons. The organs most affected during this season are our lungs and large intestine, or colon. The energy of the lung and large intestine are also at its peak during autumn.

Why the lungs and large intestine?

The lungs and large intestine may seem like two arbitrary organs to pair together. However, the rationale behind this is quite logical. The lungs are associated with clear thinking and communication (since we use our lungs to speak), openness to new ideas, and the ability to let go and experience happiness. The lungs are responsible for taking in the new and pure. This is physically represented by breathing in the crisp clean autumn air, filling it with the oxygen we need to think clearly and for our bodies to function properly. On the other end, the large intestine or colon is in charge of getting rid of waste. It is the last cycle of digestion that “lets go” of what our bodies don’t need, releasing it out of our system and keeping only what is vital for us to function. But we not only need to get rid of the physical garbage in our body, but our mental and emotional garbage as well. When we are mentally and emotionally constipated, there is no room to take in the new and pure experiences that surround us. Does it make sense now?

Holding on to or letting go of things can be expressed in terms of emotional attachment. Emotionally, autumn is a good time to internally reflect on what we may be hanging on to physically and mentally that we don’t need in our lives anymore. Are you still holding a grudge from years ago that you can’t seem to let go? Are you still grieving over the loss of a loved one or a failed relationship? Are you keeping those clothes and shoes in your closet that you haven’t worn in years?  This is the best time to let go of any past negativity or sadness in your life and donate the things in your home that you haven’t used in years. We can only absorb and receive what is new and useful (the pure) if we make room by letting go of the old or donating to others more in need.

Resolving Grief and Sadness

The emotion associated with autumn and the metal element is grief and sadness. Grief that is properly expressed and resolved actually strengthens us physically and emotionally while repressed grief and sadness injures our lungs, interfering with their function of dispersing nutrients and energy throughout our bodies. Those with healthy lungs have a balanced sense of holding onto their principles and keeping commitments while also knowing when to let go of something, whether it be a physical possession or emotional attachment. In relationships, if your lungs are healthy, you will know when you need to let go (if the relationship is not healthy for you) and process the associated grief and sadness appropriately. On the other hand, those with weak lungs have a difficult time processing grief and attempt to stifle it, which results in never completely letting go. Simultaneously, they can also be unorganized and either lose their things easily or hold on their belongings with unreasonable attachment. Those who have lung and colon problems such as bronchitis, shortness of breath, cough, allergies, nasal congestion, emphysema, frequent colds and sore throat, constipation, diarrhea, spastic colon, and abdominal pain usually have unresolved sadness that needs to be cleared. Recognizing and sharing these feelings with others is a good way to start dissipating these emotions.  So the key is not to ignore your sadness, but deal with it in a healthy way to maintain emotional balance.

Restoring your metal and keeping your lungs healthy

Here’s what you need to do to keep your metal element and lungs healthy this fall and winter season.

1) Breathe deep – The best way to strengthen your lungs is to breathe deeply. When our brains and bodies don’t get the oxygen it needs, our energy, memory, and immune system are affected.

2) Let go of negativity or any past grudges – It’s always good to let go of negativity, but the fall season is the best time to process and deal with it since the lung and large intestine energy is high during this time.

3) Clean, reorganize, and donate – The fall season is a time to de-clutter your home and get rid of things you don’t need. Letting go of the old allows room for the new, whether it be physical possessions or emotional experiences.

4) Keep your neck and chest warm – The weather during this season is cold and windy, so the lungs will be especially susceptible to this climate and getting sick. It is the only organ in our bodies that is directly in contact with our outside environment so it’s important to keep them strong during the cold weather. I always keep an extra scarf in my car to keep my neck warm.

5) Take walks outside – Walking outside during the fall season is a great way for our lungs to take in the clean air as well as get exercise.

6) I talked a lot about what types of foods to eat during the fall season in my last post (read more about it here.) To recap, eat more warming foods and less cooling or raw foods to combat the cold weather. Our digestive and immune systems need to be strong for the colder months so warming foods help strengthen both the stomach and lungs. Because it is dry and windy, soups and stews, cooked over long periods of time on medium heat are nourishing and easier to digest. Foods that are good for the lungs such as rice, sweet rice, oats, carrots, mustard greens, sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, fresh ginger, garlic, molasses, rice syrup, barley malt, and herring are also great to eat during the fall season.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and spending quality time with their family and friends!

In health and wellness,

Dr Elain


Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford






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