Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water Elements are each associated with a particular season, climatic condition, Zang (Yin organ) and partner Fu (Yang organ), color, taste, synergic feeling and extreme emotion in Five Element Theory. The Five Element Theory believes that the seasons and climatic conditions influence the related organs and their corresponding meridians. Interesting to note, strong likes or dislikes of a season, color, taste or emotion suggest imbalance in the related organ meridians, as we discussed in a previous blog titled Five Elements, Colors, and Symbolism in Chinese Medicine. The season associated with Autumn is Metal. "Autumn is the time of harvesting, a reaping of the fruits of the rest of the year, a time to prepare for protection from the winter." Leaves change into vibrant colors and fall to the earth, symbolizing a cycle within ourselves when we begin to conserve and store nourishment within our bodies, approaching our own "harvest, perfection, and completion."
"The three months of Fall are called the period of tranquility of one's conduct; soul and spirit
should be gathered together in order to make the breath of Fall tranquil;
all of this is the method for the protection of one's harvest."
Five Element Theory
The Chinese believe that all things in nature occur in seasons and cycles and in a particular order. We, as humans, evolve in the same way, with growth through cycles and seasons, and it happens on a fundamental cellular level as well as a physiological one. "The Five Elements are real forces which are around us as well as inside us; they are part of Nature and of our emotional and physical nature." They may be better thought of in the context of archetypes by the Chinese, according to Dr. Felix Mann. Each element denotes certain archetypal energic qualities and processes, in which Metal represents "a receptive quality; the process of gathering, harvesting, and collecting."
The Metal Element
The Metal Element is associated with substance, strength, and structure. The minerals of the Earth provide substance and richness to the soil from which food is grown; ores are metal; metal conducts electricity; metal provides means of communication. "If we think of the vast network of the human body, the structure of being able to take in food and air, to assimilate and utilize the fuel, then to let go of the unnecessary things, these are some life-sustaining aspects of the Metal Element. Problems with structure itself and the strength within ourselves are reminiscent of Metal imbalance. A person with a Metal imbalance may experience rheumatic pains, degeneration or rigidity of the vertebral column, specific types of headaches, trembling, lack of emotional strength or incoherent speech. We need help in rebuilding the network within the bodymind system which keeps all of our processes communicating.
Metal Meridian Imbalance
The color associated with the Metal Element is White. It may show up as a subtle hue with a lifeless quality emanating from the face. A person who detests or absolutely adores white may also signify Metal imbalance. A person who detests the Autumn season may have a Metal imbalance, experiencing difficulties in harvesting their own energy. This may show up as bowel problems like diarrhea--the inability to collect waste for disposal; digestion difficulties like vomiting after eating because the function of gathering nourishment is deficient or blocked, or the harvesting goodness from food, is out of order. Maturity and harvesting life experience is another classic association with Metal.
The organs associated with Metal are the Lungs and Large Intestine. According to the classics, the Lungs are the symbol of the interpretation and conduct of the official jurisdiction and regulation. They regulate body temperature and signify the separation of internal and external which is evident by the associated body part associated with Metal, the skin and body hair, which separates our bodies from the environment. "The Lungs are in charge of the physical energy by controlling the rate and depth of respiration and by absorbing pure Qi from the air and controlling the formation of the body Qi, or Zhen (Chen) Qi." Breathing is one of the main ways we replenish our energy. To the Chinese, the function of the Lungs as receiver of energy, taking it from the outside into ourselves, is a function that happens on every level fundamental, physiological, and emotional. "We breathe emotionally as well as physically." The Lung meridian leads the vascular system and deals with sorrow and grief on an emotional level. Grief disperses the Qi and leaves the body weak and in need of nourishment. Traditional associations of Lung Meridian imbalance are asthma, shortness of breath, sweating spontaneously, upper back pain, chest congestion, claustrophobia, coughing, dry mouth, voice loss, and sore throat.
The Large Intestine, the partner meridian to the Lungs, is referred to as the Dust Bin Collector or Drainer of the Dregs, according to Dr. Worsley. Known as the generator of evolution and change, the Large Intestine Meridian deals with the storage and elimination of waste on a physiological level, and deals with literally getting rid of old shit on an emotional level. Its defensive attitudes are mental constipation, the inhibition of emotion, the restraint of crying, and defensive pride. If we are unable to process our wastes appropriately, we may experience bloating, swelling, constipation, diarrhea, bad acne, headaches, stuffy nose, neck tension, arm and shoulder pain.
Other interesting notes for the Metal Element:
Connelly, Diane M., Ph. D., M.Ac. Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements. Wisdomwell Press, 1994. Print.
Teeguarden, Iona Marsaa. (2009). Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® Intermediate Handbook (2). Idyllwild, CA: Iona Marsaa Trust.
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Silvertone Photo Edit: Ranpreet Kaur
Photo credit: Pexels