In East Asian Medicine, each season is ruled by an element – autumn by metal, winter by water, spring by wood, summer by fire and late summer by earth.  Each of us is comprised by all of the elements, though at varying degrees. Have you noticed that you resonate with a certain season? Or perhaps feel not at your best in another? Look into the elemental aspect of those seasons and see how it lands for you – East Asian Medicine may have an explanation.

During autumn, the season of metal, we’re connected with the emotion of grief, as well as the tasks of reaping what we’ve sown in the summer, letting go, distillation and finding value in all that is around us. We know letting go is hard. As is the integration of any grief or disappointments we may experience. Acupuncture is a great way to help you through these processes, so that you can feel like your best self. And here we offer some additional insight into the metal element so that you can have a deeper understanding of how the season may affect you in mind, body and spirit.

Let’s consider metal for a moment – valuable, strong, smooth, cool, refined. It has qualities such as integrity, fairness and justice, as well as order, boundaries, structure, rhythm, control, perfection, logic and efficiency. Think of the framework of a building – made with metal – it must be precise, strong and reliant. The metal element also gives us a sense of our self-worth and value. And it is metal’s energy that helps us discern what is of value and what is not.  For example, what do we need to let go of or relinquish so that we store only what is needed for winter?  The metal energy can help us determine that.  During the autumn months, we find ourselves in a relationship with the metal element, which will have varying impact.

For example, metal has the potential for becoming severe, especially if we find our metal element out of balance or is blocked from fully expressing itself. Integrity turns to hypocrisy, fair relationships bend to authoritative punishments, structure turns to rigidity, perfectionism leads to disappointment, and logic turns to self-doubt. Further, we may lose sense of our own value and so we compensate by seeking what we think will add to our worth: status, money, power, etc. Respect, quality and recognition is then sought from the outside because there is a lack of worth within.

However, when our metal is in-balance, autumn can become a beautiful time of reflection on the progress we’ve made through the seasons, sparking thankfulness and gratitude for our “harvest.”  There is a feeling of contentment and sense that we have everything we need to feel whole.

The beauty of metal lies in the idea of alchemy – the ability to transform lead into gold, a softening and a transformation. Take, for instance, the role of the large intestine, the season’s yang organ. After we ingest food through the mouth, it is processed by a variety of organs (stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, etc.). The remaining food matter is then sent to the large intestine, which is tasked to absorb the last remnants of nutrition and transmit the useless waste material from the body. As we are more than just physical bodies, this process of letting go of waste can happen on the mental and spirit level, as well. It is like asking, “What is the golden nugget I need to learn from this experience as I relinquish it?”

In working with this energy, we can find ourselves closer to aspects of self-knowledge, learning, discovery, purity and enlightenment. There is even a potential for a deeper connection to something spiritual or divine as we may ask a question like ‘How does it all work?” With an inquiry into the cosmic order of things, we are open to the possibility of discovering a life that is rich in meaning and in harmony with something that is greater than ourselves.

As autumn pushes against our metal element, we may see physical symptoms such as asthma, COPD, chronic bronchitis, constipation, IBS, colitis, diverticulitis, lung disorders, sinus problems, skin disorders, large intestine disorders and lowered immune function.

Emotional symptoms often seen during the autumn season, include grief, unresolved loss, sadness, low self-esteem, loss of personal boundaries, obsessive compulsive disorder, issues with letting go, perfectionism, self-righteousness, dogmatic religious beliefs, prejudice, problems with authority, problems with intimacy, and lack of spiritual belief.

According to East Asian Medicine, the best way to stay healthy is learning about the nature of each season and live in harmony with its spirit. If we are living in harmony with the world around us, we see that nature is slowing down, contracting and preparing to rest. Therefore, it’s good for us to do the same. Sleep a little longer, eat nourishing foods and move inward.

As the metal element gives a sense of self-worth, autumn is the season to give yourself some extra attention and self-love, so that instead of seeking value outside, like chasing status, money and power, you can be content insideknowing that you have (and always have had) everything you will ever need, and already are a perfect, complete being.

I encourage you to lean into acupuncture to allow your body to become more in line with the metal element, off-set any symptoms that may arise during this time and to help tap into gratitude for yourself and all that is around you.

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