Grief, Metal & the Lung: Emotional Properties of Fall
"The best skill at cards is knowing when to discard."
- Baltasar Gracián
I write this in the month of October, which happens to be Emotional Wellness Month. It's also Adopt a Shelter Dog Awareness Month. Coincidence? You decide.
Almost three quarters into 2020, most of which has been consumed by a global pandemic, I find I'm still spending most of my time with patients - regardless of what type of treatment they are seeking - addressing the emotional impact of the events of this year.
One of the things that drew me to acupuncture as a profession is the way the system treats the body as a whole - not just symptom by symptom or part by part and not as exclusively physical or emotional or spiritual. The experience we are having in our body is deeply connected to the events we encounter daily, the state of our mind, and the energetic cycle of the earth that we inhabit.
In TCM theory, every season has an organ system, an element, a spirit, and an emotion that is dominant in that season. If we are strong in these areas, we can flourish. If there is an imbalance, it will likely be brought to light.
The element that dominates the fall is metal. Metal has the characteristics of clarity, dignity, and purity. It asks us to refine, create healthy boundaries, and act in a way that is truthful and righteous. Those who have an abundance of metal in their constitution tend to have lofty ideals, prefer minimal sensory input, and are drawn to the rare, the delicate, and the beautiful.
The dominant organ - the lung - connects us to the outside world and gives cadence to our lives through the rhythm of the breath. It is our body's first line of defense against the influences that effect our wellness and the recipient of qi - the vital force that keeps us inspired and alive.
The emotion associated with the fall is grief. At a time when there is a collective global grieving of loved ones lost, businesses closed, homes gone, families displaced, human connection restrained and life as we once knew it largely upended, our ability to process this emotion is of paramount importance.
The spirit of the season - the Po - gives us the fortitude to work through these unprecedented challenges. It is our unfiltered, instinctive reaction to the present moment prompting courage, action, and in-the-moment decision making. In our current bizarro world, where many of our choices don't feel like choices at all, it helps us to do the best we can with what we have as we ride the tide of the unknown.
As we move without a compass through this season of letting go, may we all possess the the presence, adaptability and dexterity that is required. Be gentle with yourself and in the words of Rasheed Ogunlaru "If you feel that you are going without, go within."