During my morning walk, at the crack of dawn, I found a dying bird at the foot of a beautiful elder Chinese elm tree. I sat with these two beings in the spirit of bearing witness to the sacred crossing. The bird looked into my eyes for a brief and deep moment and ruffled its feathers. I truly thought that it was going to take flight and perch on the tree branches; such was the sudden vitality of its little body. My heart leapt when, instead, I saw it spread its wings, tail included, and draw a beautiful arch back, its beak pointing to Mother Earth, its chest completely open and elegantly exposed to the Sun. It was in full receptivity that the bird let go of form to resurrect into the formless. It was then that I felt Autumn falling upon my consciousness…
This week Mother Earth is transitioning from late Summer into Fall. The change of season is always an invitation for us to become aware of our body’s need to adjust and harmonize with the Earth’s natural cycles and the rhythm of all beings who ride her vastness.
Fall is a very propitious time to mirror Nature in its process of contraction, inward and downward movement of essence: leaves and fruit fall, seeds dry, the sap of trees goes into the roots as the days get shorter and the nights grow longer.
According to the description of Chinese Medicine, the 5 elements in Nature and their corresponding organs (Fire/Heart, Earth/Digestive system, Metal/Lungs and Large Intestines, Water/Kidneys and Wood/Liver) are always interconnected, however each season underlies certain qualities over others. Metal is the element of Fall and its corresponding organs, the Lungs and the Large intestine, connects us with the value that we draw in from the process of receiving and letting go. Think of Metal as in the minerals that form the latticework that supplies the inner structural strength of our bones. This latticework must be at once solid, yet fluid so our inner matrix supports growth without confining it. Like the sap of trees, Autumn invites us to move in and downward to connect with the medicine that we carry in our bones, the structural gift of our precious metals. It is through feeling and understanding our self-worth that we can recognize the value and uniqueness of all beings around and in us, namely animals, plants, people and minerals and share and receive our and their medicine.
This season is also a reminder of the quality of value that we invite in such as the air that we breathe, the food that we eat and the thoughts that we think or allow in from the “outside” world. By way of connecting with what is of value we too have a chance to connect with all that feels unclear within us and that has lost its essential worth. Fall is an inviting season for us to let down the mask and begin (or continue) to relinquish those aspects of self that may now serve as compost for re-membering who we truly are. Moving into this layer of awareness may inspire questions such as:
- Is this (food, thought, action…) in alignment with my core values?
- How does this that I have to share may serve… (the other, Nature, me…)
- What in me has completed its cycle and is ready to “fall” and become compost to fertilize what is still waiting to become manifest?
- What actions on my part may foster the creation of inner space to receive inspiration?
- What do I need to let go of and where does it go when I un-clench my fist?
They say in Chinese Medicine that grief is the most predominant emotion that we process/transform during the metal season. “Grief lingers like the autumn vapors in the lungs”[i]. In Metal, there is a stillness and slowness hard to find elsewhere in Nature. I find that inner stillness is key for me to allow the energy in motion (E-motion) called sadness to put me in direct dialogue with my own vulnerability and to renew my Trust in the Wisdom of the inner workings of the Cosmos. The contracting force of grief may encourage us to look within, to identify unresolved sorrows and to transform them by shining the light and warmth of our compassionate Heart over them.
Fall is the time to gather the open and perhaps scattered patterns of the Summer. Paul Pitchford[ii] suggests that we add more sour flavored foods. These include: sourdough bread, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, leeks, aduki beans, salt plums, rosehip tea, vinegar, lemons, limes, grapefruit and the sour variety of apples, plums, and grapes. Always exercise caution in how much of these foods you eat since small amounts tend to have a strong effect.
Also, the autumn harvest is as an excellent guideline for the best food choices of the season:
– Root vegetables (including garlic, onion, carrot, potato, sweet potato, yam, and burdock),
– Above-ground squashes and gourds (including winter squash, acorn squash, and pumpkin); and
– Energy-rich nuts and seeds (including walnuts and sunflower seeds).
In general, it is recommended to cook with less water, at lower heat and for longer periods of time. This practice may helps us in the process of going “inward”.
The seasons as agents of transformation
“Transformation is the way by which Nature achieves everything harmoniously. Transformation occurs in the realm of the atom, which is also the realm of consciousness. Transformation compresses Cosmic Consciousness into the forms of Nature, and also decompresses the forms when they have completed their experiences”[iii]. The seeds of renewal are found in the rotting fruit; the return is implied in the departure.
During this “Fall”, may we dare let go of those aspects of self and past experiences ready to be transformed and shine the Light of our focused awareness into the preciousness of the always unfolding present moment.
With you in the transition
Yamin Chehin, L.Ac
Five Spirits. Alchemical acupuncture for psychological and spiritual healing” Lorie Dechar, 2006
[1.1] “Healing with Wholefoods”, Paul Pitchford. 1993
[1.1.1] “I Ching. The oracle of the Cosmic Way”, Carol Anthony & Hanna Moog. Page 574