In Chinese Five Element theory, autumn, with its clear blue skies and fresh air, is governed by the element Metal. Metal relates to the emotion of grief, to the lungs, skin and large intestine, and to immunity, boundaries and purification.
Today, SOL expert Florence Neville explains why autumn is the perfect time of year for re-establishing boundaries, resolving deep-rooted sadness and releasing what no longer serves us.
Living Seasonally in Autumn
Autumn essentially describes the year’s cycle coming to an end. It’s a time for getting your affairs in order, questioning and refining core beliefs, purifying and eliminating anything you don’t want or need any more, and clearing the decks in time for winter’s period of stillness and deep restoration.
While you ensure your home’s boundaries are ready for the winter climate, draught proofing, checking chimneys and securing fences, you can also consider your own personal boundaries.
As you sweep up the last of the dried, fallen leaves, it can prompt you to deal with paperwork. As you reply to, file or bin any as-yet undealt with correspondence, it’s a good idea to process your thoughts in the same way. Areas of sadness and grief are best dealt with now rather than left buried beneath piles of emotional debris.
The sharp tang of a cool breeze prompts deep breaths to be taken. It’s a chance to inhale a lungful of clear, pure air and to exhale and release anything that is no longer useful. Whether, quite literally, stale air or, metaphysically, stale ideas, beliefs and emotions.
Honouring Your Metal Energies
When we fail to honour our own elemental Metal energies, we leave ourselves open to respiratory illness and to undue influence from other people. We may also feel a sense of unresolved sadness or grief.
When we don’t allow ourselves the time and space to re-establish boundaries, to resolve sadness and release what no longer serves us, we leave our lives cluttered with unnecessary physical and emotional ‘stuff’. This stuff weighs us down and holds us back from living our best lives.
While you can work on your Metal energies at any time of the year, focussing on them during the autumn helps you to prepare for the winter months to come, the time at which you should be resting, recharging and dreaming.
So, how can you begin to immerse yourself more fully in the autumn months?
Our lungs and skin make up our physical boundaries and so reducing an environmental chemical attack to these organs takes the pressure off our natural defences. Replacing toxic household cleaners and skincare products with natural alternatives is an easy and inexpensive start.
Many commercially available products destroy our helpful microbial communities. Our skin and respiratory microbes play a crucial role in our immunity. Seemingly innocuous air fresheners, skin cleansers and even shampoos can destroy the very environment that hosts these helpful microbes.
Meanwhile using essential oils, such as those recommended by Pen, help our skin and lungs’ friendly communities thrive so they can protect and serve us in turn.
We also need to protect our own personal boundaries at an emotional level. Sas Pettherick has written eloquently on this subject and you can read her advice here.
Resolving Deep-Rooted Sadness
Unresolved sadness and grief, the emotions linked to the Metal element can weigh us down as the nights draw in. In the coming weeks, our seasonal toolkit will provide a range of easy practices to help lift your mood.
For now, next time you pass a pile of leaves you might like to imagine them as a pile of memories and emotions that are weighing you down. Kick them for all you’re worth and watch them scatter!
Releasing What No Longer Serves Us
We can nourish our Metal element simply by breathing! Mindfully taking in fresh air and then releasing stale air is a profoundly nourishing and cleansing practice. Gemma’s gentle breathing techniques can be practiced daily.
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the skin to be part of the lung system, so gentle exfoliation with a towel or skin brush before moisturising with a nourishing oil wil help maintain your skin’s health and vitality. The large intestine is one of our major eliminatory organs, so we’ll discuss digestion in an upcoming blog post.
Now is a great time to declutter your home. I like to make sure door areas and window ledges are kept clean and clear to let plenty of fresh air and light in during the darker months.
What are your favourite autumnal practices?
Love Lizzie, Florence and the SOL team x