AUTUMN Seasonal Letter 2014
There is the undeniable change of the sensations. Dry and cool air. Sun rising later and setting earlier as days go by. Less warmth, pale sky, crispness that comes with declining temperatures. Leaves of the trees gradually changing from green to orange, yellow, brown and even red. Deep, rich, lush colors yet dissipating before we can grasp the true depth of its beauty. There is void after each leaf leaves its connection to the branch. Fleeting and hypnotizing.
The core energy of the trees moves inward and let the leaves fall off. Distinct downward movement happens as if nature is surrendering and bowing to the impermanence of life. The movement is very much alive conjuring up motions inside us too. Nostalgia, descending emotions, being struck in awe.
Nature is going through transformation. Five-element acupuncture tradition emphasizes that external shifts in nature are reflected in our internal environment, as we are a microcosm of what is happening in the natural world. When we tune in and flow with seasons, there is more balance and ease. As the autumn breeze is inhaled into the lungs and we exhale, another new breath ensues. With each breath, there is acute awareness of time passing. Astonishing sense of beauty that exists in each moment that it will not be exactly the same way, ever again. It would be un-natural to try to keep leaves from falling and it wouldn’t be possible even if we tried. What is natural is that what once came eventually has to go. Something that begins has to come to an end. This is a natural flow and autumn reminds us of lessons and gifts that are unique in this season.
Leaves fall because it is autumn. Nature accepts how life flows. What things do we let go when it is the time of autumn in our lives? Do we allow ourselves to move with the flow and accept when ending is a natural and healthy movement? There are times to embrace loss, or initiate the process. This is the virtue of autumn. Fallen leaves fertilize and provide nutrients for the new growth next year. It no longer gets nutrients from the tree and it gives its life force back to the ground. There is a greater purpose. Plants and animals begin to conserve energy to prepare for the coming season. Anything that is excess must go. Resistance to this process of shedding causes clutter, tension and suffering - in our physical, mental and emotional environments. Yes, we can be mentally, emotionally and spiritually “constipated” when there is not enough stuff moving out. This can show up when we stubbornly hold on although there comes a time to honor ending of relationships, physical abilities, careers, possessions, or saying good-byes to our loved ones as they reach the autumn of their life cycle.
Time to grieve and creating space to hold sacredness that what was once close to us is part of what we need as we reach autumn of our lives. Recognizing that grief exists as a natural response to loss can give people a sense of relief. We grieve because what we have lost held value. There is sorrow because there is beauty and love to what we remember.
In Chinese Medicine, Lungs and Large Intestine are closely related to the movement of Autumn or Metal phase. Lungs are vital for breathing, and breathing is essential in every moment of our lives. It provides regularity and order. With each breath, there is new fresh air coming in like a new fresh inspiration and old air leaving as we let go of stale energy. This is the constant dynamic of inhalation and exhalation. When there is chaos or lack of order, we sometimes say, “I can’t breathe!” Large Intestine is about extracting the last bits of useful nutrients and then eliminating what no longer serves. Symptoms that show up in regards to the functions of the Lungs and Large Intestine are many. These are a few examples. People may feel their breathing is compromised because natural expression of grief has not been expressed. Or people may feel that they are drowning in grief and not able to move on. Feeling constipated is also another example when we hold and are not able to let go of old stuff.
Metal is the element representing the Autumn season. Imagine holding a piece of gem or jewel in your hands. It is much more than a thing that is just hard and cold. It is sparkling with clarity, refined and mesmerizing as it has endured through times of purification to extract the most precious part of the metal. In our lives even when there seems to be struggle, mess, chaos, if we take time to throw away what is not valuable anymore and let go to free up space, we may find that something of value may have been buried away and hidden.
When I think of a gem hidden in a block of dirt, I remember Michelangelo’s quote, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” It is through patience, courage and transformation that core values reveal themselves. I find that when I allow myself to face the clutter and finally clean up, I experience a sense of liberation and an opportunity to find something that is valuable enough to hold on to. There is space for a new inspiration to come through.
Some of the Autumn practices are:
What and how can I acknowledge myself and those around me?
Is there something in my life that I have not bowed to exactly as it has shown up? Will it serve trying to hold on? What happens if I surrender to life exactly as it is?
Can I go thorough the list of strengths and weaknesses, pleasures and disappointments, triumphs and shortcomings? Will I be able to extract valuable lessons from these experiences?
I honor that we have come to a present moment in mysterious ways and I bow to each one of our journeys. All the work and efforts that have been made to get to this point are worth an acknowledgment. Whether it seems big or small, it can become an inspiration for its unique value that is here in the present. Anything other than that, we can let go. A poem written by Ernest Holmes is a reminder for me and I would like to share in this article. Let’s be Autumn and experience transformation into awe.
With appreciation and respect,