Wisdom of the Seasons: A Focus on Fall
Wisdom of the Seasons
by Kevi Keenom
Seasonal changes affect all aspects of our physical, mental and emotional health. The shift from summer transitions from the earth element towards the autumn’s metal element, according to Chinese Medicine. In harvesting summer’s bounty, early fall requires that we separate the wheat from the chaff. As we begin letting go of what is no longer needed physically, we must also decide what is most important to hold onto. Like the greater cosmic energy dropping from summer heights, so must we contract inward just a bit in the fall. Highlighted issues include letting go, rooting in and remembering core values. Metal focuses our values on resources, inner-authority and self-worth.
The emotion associated with the metal element is sadness and the organs in the metal system are the lungs and the large intestine. Respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis as well as gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or constipation can manifest with habitually holding onto emotions. Sadness feels natural at the time when nature’s own vital force seems to diminish. Letting go is the way to move forward through these seasonal changes. Sinking into what is most vital provides a lesson in staying balanced. By releasing the excess we can forge strength for protection. This mimics metal energetics. Metal is forged into objects that are used in protection, such as a gate or a shield. A metal sword or ax can also sever or release something. Blades are tools of both protection and release. Locks and keys or wedding rings are valued items that perform some service of protection.
The release and protect functions are intrinsic to healthy lungs and large intestine. Through the release of both breath and waste they protect our internal and external boundaries and keep the internal balance. The skin is the third organ of the metal element and the health of the lung and large intestine show themselves in the skin. Observation in the color, sheen and luster of the skin are diagnosis tools of Chinese Medicine that reveal clues about the health of your lungs and large intestine. Skin also functions to protect and sweating helps the lymphatic system to excrete stored toxins. In the summer months, a healthy body is supposed to sweat out internal dampness. Air-conditioned living in the summer makes us more prone to the common seasonal colds because of these retained toxins. Hot saunas are one method of promoting sweating to help with these seasonal transitions.
To get on track with the season in the early fall start with the breath. Moving the body or exercising, can take many forms. As long as you are receiving fresh oxygen to your lungs you are vitalizing your blood, better absorbing minerals. The act of breathing massages your liver, our biggest detoxification organ, and further encourages renewal. Your immune system will also get a boost as your lungs and bronchial airways clear out old bacteria. Another way to improve the metal energy in your body is through creating healthy boundaries in your daily life. This can mean avoiding the intake of unnecessary impurities, be it of the heart, body or mind. Remember that emotional states can be a signal that your body is out of balance, and you should respond to the message to find your balance.
You can also strengthen metal energy dietarily incorporating foods and flavors of the season. The acrid flavor associated with fall is found in garlic, onions, radishes, leeks and ginger. Acrid works to disperse the lung energy outward, meaning can helps to fight off colds and flus. Seasonal fruits apple and pear are steamed, stewed or baked and served with ingredients such as ghee, cinnamon and honey as medicinal nourishment for moistening the lungs and large intestines. Like many of these foods are white, white is the color associated with metal and it’s said that wearing white can accentuate internal feelings of self-worth.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine offer many solutions to maintain your natural alignment with nature. Whether it be through boosting your immune system, improving your digestive health or processing on-going grief, fall is the time for all of this and more.