Tag Archives: spirit

Spirit of the Season: Autumn, Grief and The Po

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” – John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

In Chinese Medicine theory, every season has a corresponding spirit. The spirit of the fall is the Po – our corporeal soul. It is about movement, sensation, and the connection of our bodies to both our minds and to the world at large. It is what gives us animation, reaction, and human emotion. It governs our visceral responses and our capacity for sentiment and empathy.

The emotion associated with fall is grief. In Chinese medicine theory, grief is said to disrupt the flow of our qi, causing us to withdraw and disconnect with the world around us. As I often discuss in face reading sessions, grief is not only about death or the loss of a person. Our face reveals lines my teacher calls “lost love” that show up when we let a talent or creative passion lie dormant for too long. The body expresses this loss physically to illuminate the emotional blow felt by the spirit. There is also a collective sorrow that can be felt universally in response to world events that pull at our heartstrings. Regardless of the situation, in periods of emotional mourning we often go inward, retreating into our sadness as we ruminate in solitude waiting for the feelings to pass.

The Po allows us to receive and process our grief, even as our grief transforms us. It is the ability to both be and feel. By connecting us with our human urges, it lets us bring an experience into our being, receive the essential message, and ultimately move forward. It supports personal evolution within a world or space that might appear to have a very disparate agenda. Though we might experience tremendous change as a result of our own journey, the Po allows us to stay grounded in the world in which we reside and navigate the familiar from an internal place that might feel unchartered and uncomfortable.

While on any given day we are capable of all emotions, the seasonal cycle highlights and brings to the forefront those feelings or urges that can be addressed while we are in the strongest position to handle them. I urge you this fall to look at the things that might be causing you grief and harness the power of the season to catalyze your own personal revolution.

Nurturing Spirit in the Season of the Heart

summer sunset

“Coming, going, the waterbirds
don’t leave a trace,
don’t follow a path.”
– Dogen, On Non-Dependence of Mind

In Chinese Medicine Theory, Summer is the season of the Heart, of Fire, and of the Spirit. It is a time of illumination and great potential. I love this season because it is tied so deeply to hope and faith, to answering our calling and to reaching our fullest potential. One of my teachers says, “You only have so many heartbeats. How do you want to use them?” When we follow a path that aligns with our nature, the answer begins to materialize.

The Heart, in Chinese medicine, is referred to as the Emperor. It is said to house our Shen, or governing spirit, which allows us to understand our true nature and connect deeply with our personal purpose. This is the part of ourselves that is guided by our intuition and revealed by our whims. The heart does not command what it feels or pre-meditate its actions. It keeps us connected to the rhythm of life, able to relate to and communicate with those around us and experience each situation within it’s own context. When the heart channel is in balance, we feel a peacefulness of spirit, a tranquility of mind, and a clarity to the senses.

When the channel is out of balance we experience anxiety, insomnia, confusion and difficulty concentrating. Any sudden powerful emotional experience will overwhelm the heart, resulting in fright, shock, or emotional instability. We heal our mental suffering through the heart channel by balancing the emotions, calming the Shen and returning to a state of clarity. Allowing our hearts to heal is the only way to heal the spirit, and in doing so, we are better able to heal the whole.