A Gentle Touch
Fall – Metal Element Season part ll
Fall marks the beginning of metal element in Classical Chinese Medicine. This is the gradual descent and slow down into winter hibernation. It is time to start slowing down, have shorter “to do” lists, stay at home more with the family relaxing, less running around and less responsibilities. Ironically, metal/fall is considering the beginning of the new cycle of elements in Chinese cultures. All processes start with metal.
The Life Alchemy of Metal
There are two key concepts to understand about metal: 1) the process of letting go and 2) the process of refinement.
Refinement. Whenever one finds metal in nature, it does not look the beautiful polished metals you see used in jewelry and collecting. Metal has to be filtered out to remove the gross material surrounding it. Then it has to be further refined to remove small impurities by fire. This is symbolic itself of the good side of metal. Balancing metal requires one to remove everything from our life or mind that is holding us back. First we do it in a general process, such as letting go of negative people in our life or creating new positive affirmations or new goals for our life.
The second stage of metal is more mysterious. It requires fire. Fire, in all ancient culture’s writing, is represented by your inner mind. The second stage is much more internal, quiet and contemplative. It is a process only you can do by yourself, because it is your inner mind. No counseling or talk therapy can facilitate this process. I would say this is often a missing part of counseling for some people. In Chinese they say, “It is a lonely process”. This is because it was often done by retreating from the world to be in isolation. We do not need to go to this extreme, but a silent personal retreat can be a good way to facilitate this change. Sitting in a cabin for a weekend by yourself to write and vision is a great way to do this. Fall seems to lend itself to doing this type of activity. We would say this is an “alchemical” change. This means we deeply, deeply change something so it never returns. One example would be breaking through a deep spiritual or negative thinking cycle so profoundly that it never surfaces again.
This second, deeper, inner process requires meditation also. It can only be accomplished with reflection and meditation. Meditation simply means stopping all outward movement and sitting being quiet. It does not have to be sitting in full lotus - it can just be sitting outside in nature listening to the motion of everything alive. This is contemplative tradition in many religious or meditative practices in other cultures. Silence is the key. Mediation can be done lying, seated, at work or anytime. It is more about quieting down. Only when we sit in peace and quiet can we see this mysterious inner mind we have. We cannot see our true inner mind and true self until we can find quiet and solitude. When we find it, it is better than a genie in a bottle or google. You can have access to everything you need to know in your own life. Fall is the most important season to start meditating again, as we cool down from all the activity of summer.
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