The 5 Elements: Living with the Fall Season
Living in harmony with the natural cycle of the 5 Elements can impart a great deal of healing into our lives.
Think of Chinese Medicine as another language for medicine. At the core of it’s vocabulary, are the 5 Elements. The elements- Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood- nourish and control each other via certain cycles. Each Element corresponds to a time of year, two organ systems (a “yin" and a “yang”), a color, a sound, a flavor, and more. When all 5 Elements are in harmony, we are healthy; our bodies are functioning optimally, we are carrying out our cellular processes efficiently, and our bodies are able to heal ourselves. When disharmony arrises between 2 or more Elements, we become out of balance and, if left unattended long enough, we begin to manifest symptoms. Symptoms (pain, constipation, headaches, etc.) are the way our bodies alert us to the fact that something is not right. They are a call for us to “pay attention”!
The best way to live in harmony with the 5 Elements is to alter our habits, diet, and lifestyle, according to the energetics of the specific season. Although it has been hot and muggy in New England this past week, we are transitioning into Fall time, thus, the Metal Element.
What’s special about the Metal Element?
Fall time is about letting go. As the leaves die and fall off the trees, the world stills a bit, and we hunker down to build our reserves for winter. The two organ systems that correspond to the Metal Element are the Lungs and the Large Intestine. Speaking esoterically, the lungs are responsible for breathing in ‘what we are’, and exhaling ‘what we are not’. The Large Intestine is responsible for absorbing ‘what we are’ and letting go, or eliminating ‘what we are not’. Thus, the Metal Element is about discernment and clarity; ie. choosing what to let go of and what to hold on to. It governs our ability to let go and allows us to clearly identify meaning and importance. People each have an Element that they were born with. Metal-type personalities, may make lots of to-do lists, they will keep things very orderly (all the socks folded, the dishwasher perfectly loaded, shoes organized, etc.). They have strong values and see beauty in having things structured.
How can I live with the Fall Season?
Since, the Metal Element is about discernment, clarity, and letting go, Fall is a fantastic season to clean things up and sort things out! Organize that pile of paperwork, clean out your closet and kitchen cupboards. Let go of things that you haven’t worn and things that you haven’t used. Keep things orderly and recognize the beauty in having and maintaining a structure. It's also a great time to ponder: "What inspires me?. Journaling/reflection, deep breathing, and meditation are helpful habits to cultivate.
What should I eat?
In Chinese Medicine, foods have energetic properties. They can be warming, cooling, uplifting, down-bearing, cleansing for the liver, helpful for the kidneys, etc. Foods that assist the Lungs and Large Intestine organ systems (those of the Metal Element) are helpful to incorporate this time of year. These foods will have a pungent/spicy flavor and will promote healthy circulation. For example: Radish, Turnip, Parsnip, Garlic, Chives, (Raw) Onion. Many foods that support the Metal Element are also white: Cauliflower, Jicama, Tofu, Pears, Kohlrabi, etc. Small quantities of spices are also helpful: Cinnamon, Mint, Tarragon, Marjoram, Rosemary, Time, Clove, Fennel Seed, Coriander, Parsley, Basil, are some examples.
How should I eat?
As the season before Winter, it is the time we should begin building our reserves. Hearty soups and stews are a great addition to the diet. As always, emphasize warm, cooked foods and avoid cold/raw foods, and ice in drinks. (The less your body needs to warm things up to digest it, the more energy you have available for other bodily processes!)
Thanks for reading about the Fall and being interested in living with the seasons.
Basic Balance, PLLC