Element – Metal
Colour – White
Nature – New Yin
Organs – Lung, Large Intestine
Emotion – Grief/Courage
Taste – Spicy
Condition – Dry
The Autumn Equinox marks the official end of summer.
Nights become longer and days shorter as we slide into the cooler season. “Equinox” is from Latin Aequinoctium, meaning equal night, because day and night are of equal time, and the sun is directly over the equator.
This is the center of the seasons, a time of stillness, and balance. Upeksha, in the Buddhist tradition – Equanimity.
Chinese Medicine sees Nature and its patterns, forms and seasons as part of the natural rhythm of life. Autumn is the beginning of the yin (feminine) cycle, as daylight shortens. This is the time of harvest, of gathering and preparing for the colder, darker season of winter.
Summer is ruled by Fire, and we focus externally – travelling, playing and enjoying outdoors. Autumn is ruled by Metal, and time to gather and organise for winter, return inside and reflect on life. We use metal to help us collect and harvest in the form of tools and vessels. This is a time to seek to restore balance in the world and in ourselves.
Autumn is associated with Metal, which governs the mind and organization, order, communication, limits, and boundaries. It is a good time to finish projects and harvest the bounty of your hard work. Nature’s cycle of letting go has inward movement, returning to origin and source; the earth.
Inhalation also has inward movement, and this season is associated with the Lung.
Lung moves life force through the breath, as inhalation brings energy in and exhalation releases energy out. To let go, you must evaluate, Autumn is also associated with Viveka, discrimination. One of the natural and necessary traits of a Yogi. Autumn is a good time for introspection, to get quiet and notice our breath.
Perhaps this is time to reflect:
What do I no longer need and what can I let go of?
Do I have unresolved grief that need release?
What in my mental and emotional life can die to be reborn?
Autumn provides the opportunity to release old habits and negative patterns, and to remember that by releasing and letting go we grow and evolve. Plant your seeds, nurture yourself and let go of what you don’t need…
Lung is the “tender organ” living in the upper body, and is especially susceptible to wind and cold. It is the commander of Chi, because it is in charge of inhalation and exhalation; the movement of in and out.
Lung is paired with Large Intestine, creating an energetic and symbiotic relationship that balances Yin and Yang (water-fire). Lung absorbs oxygen and energy from nature and creates energy for the body. Large Intestine absorbs and circulates food and water to cool the body.
Lungs are the body’s “skin”, allowing the process of taking in and letting go. If a person cannot “let go”, life doesn’t flow smoothly, so this is a good time to heal grief and sadness. Healthy Lungs are crucial for strong body and mind, so breathe deeply with gratitude and celebration, and pay attention to Lung health!
Breathing controls the nervous system, regulates and governs our energy and pulse. It is a bridge between body and mind and helps to keep the two in balance.
Lungs are similar to branches of a tree: each large branch splits in two, and smaller branches split until they become leaves. Each leaf begins with a single vein, splitting into smaller veins, until they become individual cells. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, while humans and animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. This symbiotic relationship may help us to see that Trees could be the lungs of earth!
Metal is linked to boundaries, and as metal expands and contracts, so does the Lung and Large Intestine. As leaves fall and nature recycles and regenerates, the power of Metal helps to release the unnecessary, and store what is needed for Winter.
Autumn is a time of harvest, but also of loss, so Grief is associated with Metal. As leaves and the last fruit fall, the riches of decay return nutrients to earth. Without this boost and enrichment, life could not proceed and grow. This is also a time of Courage, so build up strong external Chi by staying active, especially in the upper torso and extremities.
Metal supports breathing and releases impurities…inspiration and respiration. When Metal is balanced, it is harmonious and can discern what to let go of and when. It is time to breathe deeply, slowly and easily, and pay attention to the surrounding, natural environment.
Entering cooler times, balance the body to maintain energy for winter.
Eat whole grains, squashes, pumpkins, corn, root vegetables, apples, pears (especially Chinese pears Ya Li), kidney beans and tofu. Honey, cinnamon and ginger warm the internal body.
Fruit falls from a tree. It cannot hold onto the branch forever. As it falls, it gives fruit. The tree has to let the fruit fall. And there is a wound. The tree heals, and in Spring, blossoms arrive and become fruit.
Bend, Breathe, Bloom!