Middleway Medicine

The Metal Element – Making Room for Inspiration

In Taoism, autumn is the season of the Metal element. It is the time after the harvest when we let go of the growth, color, and abundance that makes summer feel so alive. It is a time of moving inward, of creating space by letting go of that which we have outgrown. It is also a time of grieving and honoring what we have lost. It is challenging for most of us to drop our adornments of personality and accomplishment that summer nourishes, and to stand naked in the cold days of lengthening darkness. Most of us really enjoy the times of expansion and growth—it is when we feel that we are accumulating and improving. Letting go is not as easy. We tend to struggle without something to hide behind or distract us. Now each bend in our branches, each knot or scar, is visible. But in order to create the space for inspiration to resonate and grow, we must let go of the things that we carry. Just as a tree must drop its leaves every autumn, we must abandon the excess that is the character of summer. 

The Metal element shows us the wisdom of letting go, so that there is room to be inspired.

This is one of the gifts of the Metal element. It teaches us the lesson of letting go, so that we have room to be inspired. Physiologically, Metal is related to the large intestine and the lungs. If something prevents the large intestine from letting go of that which no longer serves us, there is less room for inspiration. In a physical sense, if the large intestine is full of garbage, there is not enough room to allow the diaphragm and thus the lungs to descend into the depths of our being. This inhibition of the descending function of the lungs means there is less room for inspiration—we can’t get a full, deep breath. This causes us to feel cold, flat, and lifeless. In this sense the Metal element is related to faith: faith that if we let go, then something new will enter our lives. But faith often requires that we let go of the the old before we can see what new things will enter.

We can each support the natural rhythm of autumn by asking ourselves what we are holding onto that no longer serves us: old ways of being, old ideas, old attachments. We can actively invite in a willingness to honestly look at how we define ourselves by our roles and relationships. We can see what stories we hide behind and choose to let go of those that don’t actively serve our ultimate growth and evolution. 

Acupuncture and Taoist healing techniques can help with this process. They support the softening of our rigid structures and beliefs; they can add the Fire to Metal to make it more pliable and allow us to let go of the things that we no longer need to carry.

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