23 Jan Metal: It’s Just a Phase
While we are still enjoying the last moments of Summer, our bodies are getting ready to move into Fall, even if our minds are not yet willing. In Chinese Medicine, just as the seasons inform each other, our bodies follow suit. And just as we have favorite seasons and feel our best during those seasons, consciously or unconsciously, our bodies also have favorite and least favorite seasons and respond accordingly. It is helpful to learn those preferences, and weaknesses, if only to be better prepared when we find ourselves at the same point perhaps next year!
The Fall season traditionally corresponds to the Metal phase in Chinese Medicine, which draws from the 5 phase cycle of nature: Beginning in spring is the Wood phase, followed by the summer – Fire, late summer – Earth, fall – Metal, and winter – Water.
The autumn is a time of composing oneself for the colder months ahead – summer projects are wrapped up and we harvest what we have grown during the creative season we are leaving behind. You could consider a bare tree as a metaphor for this season. It has shed its leaves, and is left somewhat exposed- and yet what remains is essential value: it stores what it needs to move forward into the season of hiatus (the winter). Metal is a helpful symbol to sum up the components of this phase. Metal carries a connotation of value, of that which is precious.
The meridians most closely associated with Metal are the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. When the Metal element is out of balance, it can take a physical and emotional toll. When the Lung meridian is out of balance, according to Chinese Medicine, symptoms include asthma, allergies, frequent colds, as well as skin related issues like rashes, eczema, or problems with sweating. Problems with the Large Intestine meridian include chronic constipation, diarrhea, or other bowel problems. On the emotional side, when the Lung and Large Intestinal meridians are out of balance, issues about self-worth and value in the world may take residence. When we are in balance, we can let go of what we no longer need, allowing space for physical and emotional inspiration.
The goal of acupuncture in the Fall, (whether addressing physical or emotional symptoms) is about strengthening the Metal element: restoring balance between letting go and inspiration.
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Fall photograph by Minna Kulmala.