The Beginning of the End

Autumn and the Metal Element, in Five Element acupuncture, begins to bring us full circle in the annual cycle of life.  The natural movement of nature in Autumn is to fall away, die back and return to the root.

The cycle of life is endless, but we may think of a seed in Winter as a symbol of the beginning – potential energy, held dormant over Winter, waiting for the signals of Spring to release the life within its shell.  From this point of view, Autumn and the Metal Element is the beginning of the end, heading towards the dormancy of Winter.

The signs of decline and death are obvious.  Trees lose their leaves, plants die back, and the flowers of summer come to an end.  The weather shifts, and cold storms and rains begin to blow in.  The shortening of the hours of daylight becomes palpable.  People often feel more tired, and become vulnerable to colds and respiratory illness.

For more information on Autumn and the Metal Element in nature, watch the video.

Welcoming Sadness and Letting Go

People often feel a sense of sadness connected with Autumn, as we know that the last of our Late Summer (Earth Element) activities comes to an end.  Each of us has some personal connection with the changing season:  perhaps putting the garden to bed, gathering the last of the harvest, or putting the boat into dry dock for the season.  Whatever it is to you, there is a feeling of turning inward and settling down for the colder months.

Grief is the emotion proper to Autumn and the Metal Element.  While we tend to resist grief and view it as a negative emotion to either avoid or “get over,”  it has its purpose.  Along with the sadness of Summer’s end, there is a welcome relief to letting go.  

Like the rest of nature, our energy turns inward and returns to the root in Autumn.  We may feel tired, and need more rest.  Wisdom lies in doing one less thing, and letting go of what no longer serves you.  Grief is part of the letting go.

Season of Compost and Recycling

The decline and die back seen in Autumn has a purpose, like everything in nature.  The process of breakdown and decomposition associated with Autumn and the Metal Element is simply the other side of the growth associated with Spring (the Wood Element).  Every wise gardener knows the value of composting, creating the “black gold” of healthy soil by piling up last year’s rotten leaves and dead vines, and letting the fungi, worms and other organisms do their work.  

The decomposition that comes with decline is fundamental to Autumn and the Metal Element.  It allows complex life forms to be broken down into essential elements and constituents.  These pure elemental forms can then be sorted and recycled, creating the nutrients to be taken up in the next cycle of life.  What is of value can be recovered.  The rest can be let go.

Quality, Value, Respect and Self Esteem

The Metal Element gives us, on the one hand, the ability to let go of what no longer serves us.  Equally important, it gives us the ability to recognize and recover quality and value.  A robust Metal Element brings value and refinement to our entire being.  We are able to recognize value with ourselves, and cultivate it in every arena of our lives.  Value can manifest in many ways:  taking steps to choose a more ethical lifestyle, developing higher consciousness, or simply paying off debts.  Recognizing quality and value helps us clean up our act.

The gift of a healthy Metal Element is self-esteem and respect for self and other.  We are able to see value and quality both within others and within ourselves.  This leads us to respect others, and inspires respect in return.  Respect shows in how we care for ourselves and for those around us.  It brings out the best in us.

Wise Living with Autumn and the Metal Element

1.  Let go of what no longer serves you.  This is a good time to clean out closets and drawers, get rid of clutter and simplify.  Straighten out finances and reduce paperwork.  Let go also of relationships that no longer nourish you.  Let go of activities that feel out of congruence with your life purpose.

2.  Do one less thing.  Simplifying your schedule, and allow more time for rest.  Prioritize and stick to the most important things.

3.  Take time to reflect.  Our energy turns inward, allowing us access to our inner world.  Autumn is time for introspection, creativity and reflection.

4.  Take better care of yourself.  We become more vulnerable as our energy sinks down to the root.  Make sure that your immune system and protective boundaries are in good shape.  Get extra rest, eat well, and spend time with those you love.  Don’t overdo it.

5.  Recognize value.  Cultivate respect for self and others.  The gift of Autumn and the Metal Element is the ability to find value in self and others.  What we value we naturally respect.  We see the best, and hold each other in the highest personal regard.

Inner Works Acupuncture is a Five Element acupuncture clinic in the Alphabet district of northwest Portland.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 503-227-2127.