Fall is the time of transition between the extremes of summer and winter. We should be preparing for winter and enjoying the fruits of our labors as the year closes. Thinking this way attunes us the patterns of nature, easing our way through the world. In health maintenance and spiritual cultivation this calls for a combination of releasing the excesses of summer through relaxing movement and preparing to settle down, conserving energy for winter. How smoothly will you transition to winter this year?
Autumn stresses the Lung and Large Intestine, together known as the Metal Element in the 5-Element theory of traditional Chinese philosophy. This is why your lower back, neck and shoulder pain returns at this time of year. Constipation, asthma, and recurrent bronchitis is more likely. The lung dominates our body’s energy. It is the “commander of our qi” in the classics of traditional Chinese medicine. As we breathe so shall we live. The Chinese have an aphorism, “The true man breathes from the heels”. Qigong or Chinese yoga helps us understand the meaning of this. Conversely, they say “A man on his deathbed breaths from his throat”.
This is a time to tend to relationships. When metal is imbalanced, intimacy can suffer. This because metal relates to attachment. Weakened, it manifests as depersonalization and interpersonal distance. The drive to bond can diminish. Too strong and zealous behavior can result.
On the emotional plane grief is associated with metal. Observe people mourning at a funeral. They hemorrhage energy from their nose. The nose is the sensory organ (eyes, ears, nose, tongue) that is associated with the lung. Grief is due to ruptured attachments. The good news is that healing is possible. Healing in this sphere involves letting go. The large intestine meridian is the channel of “letting go”. It releases old trauma of all kinds. Release of attachment is the path to freedom. Freedom is the personal evolution of recovery from dysfunctional attachment whether it is personal, philosophical, religious, or racial. Anything to which the mind can bond. It is also the coming of peace as grief is supplanted by recovery.
Understanding the dynamic of Metal assists us in reducing our bondage. Internal freedom from self-imposed limitation is the result.
Movement The postures of metal are geared toward release of the lung and large intestine, their associated spinal, cranial, organ, and limb correlations. The rib cage and upper extremity are the keys. Opening the chest and breathing well are the hallmarks of metal function within our bodies. Mantra The vocalized breath of the lung is the ‘ah’ sound. ‘Shang, shang, shang’ has this ‘ah’ sound imbedded within it. The inherent vibration is palpable in the lung. Feel your chest and vocalize ‘ah’ or ‘shang’. The vibration signifies activation of qi in your lungs. Mudra A mudra, or hand gesture which unlocks the wisdom within the body involves connecting the pad of the thumb to the thumb-side fingernail of the index finger. Feel your chest expand as you make the connection. Imagery The color of the Metal Element is white. Envisioning white energy filling the lungs and large intestine while engaging in breathing exercises enhances the function of these organs and their related body-framework areas.
Look to the West as you practice during the Fall. West is the direction of the Metal Element.