Moving in to the season of autumn
(This is for southern hemisphere peeps that are entering Autumn, I will add a spring version for the northern hemisphere people shortly)
Moving from summer vibes that are often a bit more carefree and relaxed into autumn and a more introspective feel. With this change in season I do change my practice.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) autumn is related to the Metal element and the Lung and Large Intestine meridian lines and organs.
To understand this a bit further the 5 Element theory of TMC propose that there are 5 elements in nature that cycle in phases through seasons and organs.
The elements are Earth, Water, Wood, Metal and Fire.
These 5 elements represents energies that succeed each other in a continuous cycle, well not the elements themselves but the movement between them is what is emphasised.
So to gain a bit of a deeper understanding of why working with the elements is important here is how it flows;
Wood feed fire, fire creates earth, earth bears metal, metal collects water and water nourishes wood. All is in flow. But when the cycle between the elements is destructive one element is being destroyed by another. Wood parts the earth, earth takes in water, water quenches fire, fire will melt metal and metal chops wood.
Having awareness of this cycle and understanding the relationships and flow between the elements is vital (according to TCM) for, not only maintaining, but also creating optimal balance and health in our physical body. This is also of essence for optimal mental and emotional health.
How do we support this balance and health?
Well, this is where the change in our practice each season comes in to play. To maintain an unobstructed flow of chi thought the meridian lines and our body that is deeply connected to Mama Earth we nurture, move, are aware of and mindfully practice to balance the elements and the energy lines that is in season moving with Mother Nature and our planet. We are connected.
This is why it is helpful to understand the elements and seasons. We are not separate from our planet, we are part of it. Health and life comes from her. And maybe by realising this we may start to be a bit kinder to her.
So in autumn we work with Lung and Large Intestine meridian lines and the element of Metal. Y are strongly influenced by all elements, but Metal is the stronger energy in autumn. Metal governs confidence, intuition, boundaries, routines and structure and our ability to let go.
So when the Metal element is in flow and balance we are organised and disciplined, it’s easy to trust our intuition and there is a sense of having great inner strength.
When out of balance we may have trouble letting go, we hold on to the past, and may be grief stricken. We are prone to lung dis- ease such as asthma, coughs and bronchitis as well as skin problems.
So here is the thing (and practice)…in autumn we learn a lot about ourselves. It is a time when we turn inward after summer and a more outward directed energy. It is a time when harvest time is finished as nature start to slow down and make everything bare.
Nature let go of its abundance and creation of the past year in a wonderful display of colours and change. Leaves turn colour and drop from the trees giving the leaves back to Mother Earth, nourishing her to promote next year’s new leaves and harvest.
Nature tells us clearly how to move and flow in autumn. Remember, we are not separate from nature or our planet, we are part of her. If we follow, feel, listen to and see the cycle of nature we start to understand that our own cycle is very similar.
Trees in autumn do not stubbornly hold on to their leaves to keep them for next year, in case they may need them. Trees let go of their leaves and allow earth to nourish from them so the beauty and health can arrive again when time is right. But us humans often hold on tight to what we have, the past, negativities and waste products. Thoughts, ideas, emotions, pain, heartache or physical hold on’s.
The energy of this season supports our letting go of stagnation, hold on’s, waste and negativities. Physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically. Letting go of the old and stale in our lives, leaving us open to the pure and new, giving us a vision of who we are in our essence. Autumn, in a way, returns us to our essence. It invites us, if we let it, to eliminate what we no longer need and reminds us of what is most precious in our lives. The essence. The connection.
Grief is the emotion of the Metal element. We all experience at times loss, separation, and “letting go,” and we appropriately feel grief as those experiences flows through.
Grief, as challenging of an emotion it is, is a great cleanser. When we go through grief, we realise, remember and can gradually start to embrace what is truly important. The essence. The connection. Always there. Grief cleanses us of what is no longer needed in our lives. When the Metal element and its energy is imbalanced and blocked within us it has an effect on our expression of grief. An imbalanced Metal energy pushes an imbalanced expression of grief. If energy imbalanced grief may be inappropriate, excessive and ongoing.
Or, in the other extreme, it may be absent, as in those who cannot express their grief. A shut down.
When these organs and their energy systems are functioning well we have an ability to let go and move forward; when they’re not there’s a sense of grief or depression.
As always I use yoga as a whole practice (meditation, pranayama, yin, yang, hatha…..) to move with the season of autumn. Focusing on Lung and Large Intestine meridian lines as well as releasing and letting go on all levels. Since the lungs are deeply involved in the element of Metal, a focus on breath-work as well as a more dynamic cardio, lung invigorating practice would also be good. But maybe the ‘big’ one is this, autumn is the time of year to go within, feel and explore and LET GO.