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The Fall and Chinese Medicine

the fall and chinese medicineFall comes just after the summer harvest. Chinese medicine teaches that is the natural time of letting go because the life force in nature is returning inward towards the earth. The energetic of fall is an interiorization of energy. The same interiorization happens in humans during this time and we begin to become more introspective. In Chinese medical theory, the idea of phases, or changing moments through time, is paramount. In nature we observe five phases or states of change as the four seasons with the fifth being the time of transformation between the seasons. We associate these five phases with certain emblems or representative forces that illustrate each energy, such as fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. Fall is the time of the metal phase. As we proceed through the fall season we may notice that we are called to let go of certain areas in our lives. Fall is the time of letting go, the time of returning to the earth, returning to introspection, the time of death. To be in accord with the energetic of fall, ask yourself some poignant questions. What do I no longer need and what can I let go of? Do I have any unresolved grief that I need to release? What areas in my mental and emotional life can I die to so as to be reborn when the coming spring approaches? Fall naturally affords us the opportunity to release old thoughtforms and negative patterns remembering inherently that through releasing and letting go we grow and evolve.

The lung and Chinese medicine

In Chinese medical theory all of nature is connected and natural patterns, forms and seasons are reflected in and as our human forms. Each season is associated with an internal organ. In fall we speak of the lung. Inhalation, or inspiration is an inward movement energetically, this is the movement of the fall, an interiorization. We inhale and move introspectively as we receive the energy of the world around us through the breath. This inspiration is the sap moving back into the roots of the tree from whence it came. We have the opportunity to return to our roots in the fall, to begin to move deeper into our own origins, our own source, as we approach winter. When we exhale we let go and expire, expiration is a release. The inspiration is the interiorization energetic of the lung, a movement happening in nature as the fall season. The expiration is the letting go, it’s the movement life makes when leaves “fall” from their branches. Fall is the time of the metal phase, the time of the lung, the time of letting go, the time of release. To let go of something you must be able to evaluate its usefulness in your life, therefore we also associate fall with the mentation of discrimination. If you are balanced energetically, the metal phase will be harmonious and you will be able to discern what to let go of and when.

The large intestine and Chinese medicine

Each of the five viscera in Chinese medicine (lung, kidney, liver, heart, spleen), is coupled with a corresponding bowel (large intestine, urinary bladder, gall bladder, small intestine, stomach). The viscera are solid , the bowels are hollow. The former are associated with heat and fire (thermogenesis), the later with cold and water (hydrogenesis). The lung is paired with the large intestine in Chinese medicine. This pairing is not arbitrary but exists because of the energetic relationship and symbioses of the two organs as they are balanced in a yin-yang (water-fire) relationship. The lung absorbs oxygen and cosmic energy from the world and creates energy (fire) for the body. The large intestine absorbs food and water and circulates it through the system cooling the body. Lung and large intestine are metal, they are the fall, they receive energy and food and they release, and let go of what the body does not need. The lung releases carbon dioxide, the large intestine releases feces. If you are constipated, ask yourself some questions related to the metal phase. What am I holding onto that I need to release? What areas in my life do I need to let go of? If the metal phase is out of balance then a patient will experience grief that does not seem to resolve itself. Acupuncture helps the system restore balance by stimulating a person to release negative emotion. Our bodies are reflections of nature, we want to change and evolve, but sometimes the mental states become unbalanced, and this is why Chinese medicine is so useful.

© James Whittle M.S. L.Ac.

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