Autumn and the Element of Metal
by Margaret Matsumoto
including information from acupuncturists
Mark Preston and Neil Gumenick
The Chinese season of Late Summer gives way to the season of Autumn, a time when the rays of the sun lose their intensity, the plant and animal worlds prepare for winter and the final harvest is gathered. The air grows cooler, even crisp. The trees let go of their dry brown leaves and the sap withdraws inward to the core of the tree. Having grown up on the East Coast of the US, Autumn immediately brings to mind the pleasure of walking, or better yet, shuffling through dry fallen leaves.
This is a time for us to turn more inward, moving away from external activity and focusing on the essential. Like the trees around us, we shed what is no longer needed. This process of letting go can be on the physical plane, such as elimination of our waste byproducts from our digestion and assimilation of our food. Emotionally we let go of old resentments or regrets or attachments to allow us to more fully be present here and now. Mentally, we let go of judgments and mental structures and cultivate a clear, still mind. Spiritually, we cut through the extraneous and value who we are at our core, our essential self.
Autumn corresponds with the element Metal. Here we mean the naturally occurring metals in the earth, like the minerals and trace elements in the ground.
This season is associated with the color White, as the Chinese traditionally used White to symbolize the ultimate letting go of death and the grief that accompanies the mourning process.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the officials of the Lungs and Large Intestine or Colon go with the Metal element. With every breath, we inhale fresh pure clean air and eliminate toxins with the exhale. The Large Intestine official allows us to eliminate what we don't need in all respects.
Our Tai Chi practice brings us into harmony with the energy of Autumn, as we discover, then let go of unnecessary tensions that inhibit our mobility. We learn to move with economy and use only the energy and muscular involvement needed to flow through the form. Thus we experience Tai Chi in its most essential simplicity and beauty. As you practice, allow your focus to be half inside, half outside. Maintain a sense of relaxation while doing the form and at the same time, feel the stillness within the movement. As always, it helps to breathe and relax.