Staying in Harmony with the Seasons: Autumn
According to Chinese Medicine, Autumn is the season of the Metal Element.
Metal is the element that likes organization. And Fall is the time when we begin organizing our lives for the winter that is soon to follow. We harvest the wonderful fall crops like pumpkins and yams, so that we can access earth's bounty in the middle of the cold season. We clear out the old crops, and begin to prepare the fields for the next season.
The Metal Element is associated with the Lungs and the Large Intestine.
Our Lungs are our organ of inspiration and expiration. We breathe in the beautiful air, extract the oxygen from it, and exhale out what we don't need. The lungs are an organ of "letting go".
The lungs also control the Wei Qi, which is the protective qi that circulates under our skin and helps protect us from pathogens. If we strengthen the energy of our lungs, it helps us to fight off colds, the flu, and other respiratory ailments.
The acquired emotions of the lungs are sadness, grief, and loss. But when the lungs are radiant and healthy, they resonate with Integrity, and the ability to feel appropriate Awe. Our metal element likes things to be done correctly, in an organized way. It takes the strength of all the other elements to be able to pull that off!
Knowing that the Lungs are organs of "letting go" helps us to understand that the Yang partner of the Lungs is the Large Intestine. This digestive organ is responsible for holding onto food products as they pass through our body and helping us to eliminate that which we don't need.
Here are some things you can do to increase the health of your lungs and your Metal Element during the Autumn season when they are very prone to experiencing problems.
Take time each day to breathe deeply. Sit on the edge of a chair, feet flat on the floor. Notice how your feet feel against the earth underneath you. Then breathe deeply through your nose, letting your breath fill your torso. Your abdomen should gently expand as you do this. There is no need to hold or strain your breath. Just breathe deeply.
Fall is a great time to reorganize your life. Go through your closets. What do you need to keep, and which items are you ready to relinquish? Cleaning out the clutter in your pantry, your computer, and your life can strengthen your Metal Element.
Take stock of the mental and emotional clutter in your life with the same vigor! Do a compassionate inventory of emotions, attitudes and judgements you are holding onto. Ask your body to help you to find ways to let go of things that are no longer serving your highest good.
Even though our Lungs are responsible for circulating our protective Wei Qi, they are actually delicate organs. The lining of the Lungs comes into direct contact with the air we breath and can be affected by the quality and the temperature of that air. The dryness of fall and the coldness of the oncoming winter both challenge the lungs. You can help this delicate organ by protecting your chest and neck with scarves, vests, and high necked shirts as the days become cooler.
What you eat also greatly affects the health of your lungs (and the rest of you!). The best autumn foods for you depends on how your body responds to the season. If your lungs and skin become dry, then it may be helpful to consume moistening or yin nourishing foods such as: tofu, tempeh, spinach, barley, pears, apples, persimmons, seaweed, mushrooms, and many seeds and nuts such as almonds, pine nuts or sesame seeds.
The theory of Five Elements suggests that foods that are white in color may also be helpful to the lungs, as are foods that build Qi. Think of this next time you are eating white mushrooms, garlic or onions. Take a bite of a juicy sweet pear and contemplate how all that wonderful goodness is nourishing your metal element and helping to moisten the lining of your lungs!
Your lungs and your metal element are tonified with white light. So breathe white light into your lungs until they are glowing gently inside with a radiant white light.
Qigong healing sounds can help our lungs let go of grief and sadness. We will be reviewing the healing sounds for the lung in class and learning other special qigong exercises to strengthen our Metal element, our lungs and our entire being.