The body, mind and spirit aspects of Metal, which associates with the Fall season, are interrelated. And yet we can still look at these organs and systems through individual prisms to appreciate them in greater detail and nuance.
So, just as we breathe air in through the Lungs, our Spirit is animated by “the breath of Heaven”. Inspiration, which we associate with art or creativity or any brilliant problem-solving, also refers to the physical act of inhaling, of breathing. So these concepts comfortably co-exist. Some think of inspiration and intuition interchangeably. Wherever it comes from, it usually expresses a fresh perspective, like a breath of fresh air, blowing in the new.
The mind and spirit aspect of Large Intestine are similar: it involves letting go. A Spirit-level Large Intestine disorder might be someone who hoards: they cannot let go of things that are no longer needed or useful. On the other hand, someone who lets go too easily may also be suffering, unable to retain relationships, unable to hold on to a job, careless with possessions.
Grief is the Metal emotion, the emotion associated with Fall. Leaves falling can evoke melancholy in some people, and a tree with no leaves can feel as though it has lost one of its defining attributes, and losing leaves is appropriate for those trees. Grief is normal and appropriate in the face of loss, but some people become lost in their grief. It is normal to grieve when we close one chapter in our lives and move on to another, even when that involves good changes. A child who progresses to middle or high school is leaving behind some of their innocence and simplicity. A child who goes away to college will be individuating from their family as they explore independence. Retiring from a career involves loss of colleagues, a work environment and perhaps even a portion of one’s identity. Other major losses are moving, illness and of course death. Grief is a part of celebrating what was joyful and good, and also saying good-bye, moving forward nevertheless.
According to Prof. Neil Gumenick, who has studied and practiced Classical Five Element acupuncture since 1981: “[Beyond] the loss of material things and people, the deepest grief is the perceived loss of our authentic essential selves – eternal, brilliant, Divine. This is grief at the Spirit level. As such, life loses inspiration, purpose, joy of learning, spiritual goals and meaningful connection with others. Both the inner and outer worlds lose their beauty, majesty and brilliance.”
But when we can’t integrate that loss, when it becomes the dominant theme of our lives, then it becomes a spirit-level issue that may have other deeper consequences.
For these people, grief becomes the lens through which their life is lived, and even becomes the sound of their voice. Their voice has a weeping quality, the sound made in the presence of great loss or separation. It is also evidenced by conspicuous absence when one might reasonably expect grief. We know that everyone deals with grief and loss differently, so determining when this emotion is out of proportion takes sensitivity and non-judgment.
Classical Five Element acupuncture is unique in that the Spirit aspect of treatment holds a position of high importance. Because when the Spirit is disturbed, then the mind and body are challenged to function with harmony and ease. When the Spirit is in alignment, then the mind and body thrive as they should.
How interesting that one of the challenges of Fall, of the Metal season, is holding the concepts of both inspiration and grief. They are just two aspects of this season, and present an opportunity for reflection.
The next time you go out for fresh air, take in a deep fresh breath and consider:
- What or who inspires you at work? And why?
- What or who inspires you personally? And why?
- When you feel deflated, how do you uplift yourself?
- What amazing thing did you see or listen to recently that caused you to stop and experience “wow!
The final article in this Fall series features an artist who speaks to some of the Spirit aspects of the season. I hope you’ll continue reading!