by Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac.
According to Chinese Medicine, order and organization are ruled by the Metal element, which is associated with the Lungs, Large Intestine and skin.
In the same way that a smooth, deep breath helps you feel more relaxed and even safe, a balanced Metal element helps maintain order in your life.
The Significance of the Metal Element
Life begins with the first breath and therefore the meridian sequence begins with the Lungs.
The Lungs, Large Intestine and skin are all Metal organs. Each of these organs connect us to the external world and help us to let go—through our breath (Lungs), bowels (Large Intestine) and sweat (skin).
The internal branch of the Lungs travels down and attaches to the Large Intestine. One of the main virtues of the Lungs and the Metal element is letting go—through the exhalation of the Lungs, and through the bowels in the movement of the colon/Large Intestine.
Inhalation is about drawing in Qi and exhalation is about letting go and detoxifying the body. When we are faced with a challenging situation, often our first response is to hold our breath. Self-cultivation practices including Yoga, Qi Gong and Tai Ji teach us to instead observe and control our breathing.
Breath awareness helps strengthen your Lungs and draws you out of your mind and into your body so you can be more present. It is in this space that you can find acceptance of where you are rather than trying to make it something else so as to create resistance and stress.
Resistance builds the foundation for disease development. Resistance manifests as Wind, which according to Chinese Medicine is considered to be one of the Six Evils and is responsible. Wind manifests when your body-mind is unable to accommodate to change and can show up in a myriad of ways including acute illnesses like colds, flus and allergic reactions, as well as chronic degenerative health disorders. (You can read more about Wind here).
The virtue of Metal is letting go and forgiveness, both of which anchor us in the present moment. This virtue leads us to acceptance, which is the opposite of resistance.
So while imbalances in your Metal organs also impedes your ability to think clearly as a result of accumulation of toxicity in the body via the Lungs, colon and skin, balancing your Metal organs help you to let go and to create a sense of clarity and order in your life.
The Significance of Metal Energy in Your Life
Metal energy relates to elimination, purity and respiration. The emotion that’s associated with imbalanced Metal is grief. Balancing your Metal energy therefore empowers you to transform grief into acceptance.
Metal energy creates order, which is why Metal type personalities are highly methodical, efficient and organized.
When the Metal organs, in particular the Lungs and Large Intestine, are out of balance, you’ll be prone to immune and respiratory issues, as well as constipation. Metal relates to the season of Autumn, which means that these organs, including the skin, are particularly sensitive to dryness—the predominant environmental factor during this time of year. The Lungs, colon and skin all benefit from a more moist environment and proper hydration. Clearing these organ systems not only benefits your body, but it also helps develop greater clarity in your mind.
If life feels chaotic, balancing your Metal energy will help you make the shift to transform chaos into clarity.
Especially during the Metal season of Autumn, it’s important to harmonize your Metal energy to optimize the strength of your immune system and gut health. While there are a number of foods that can support this process, one of the key tools to rebalance Metal is to bring order and organization to your life. And the ways to do this may not all be so obvious.
How to Cultivate Clarity by Balancing Your Metal Energy
Here are 5 keys to balance your Metal energy so you can feel a sense of order and clarity in your life:
Breathe deeply. Remember that the Lungs are the primary organ associated with the Metal element. The deeper you breathe, the more connected you’ll feel to your body and to the present moment, which in and of itself brings a sense of clarity and peace. Deep breathing also helps strengthen the Lungs to protect your immune system and reduce feelings of sadness and melancholy which are especially common during the Autumn months. Ujjayi breathing is a simple breathing practice you can practice daily. Since we run through a lot of our day breathing unconsciously, I often tell my patients and students to set a timer to remind them to pause and breathe consciously every hour.
Practice more mind-body-breath movement practices such as Yoga, Tai Ji and Qi Gong. When you coordinate breath with movement, Qi, or energy, travels more fluidly throughout your entire body. The circulation of Qi is governed by the Lungs.
Declutter your work and home spaces. You can begin by simply cleaning out a few drawers or taking things out of your closet and cabinets that you don’t like or need and donating them to your local charity. If you want to go all-in and do a full house declutter, you can implement the KonMari Method, by letting go of anything and everything that no longer ‘sparks joy.’
Develop a daily writing practice. I always recommend starting your day by writing Morning Pages — 3 longhand pages of a sort of uncensored ‘brain dump’ to clear your mind. I was first introduced to this practice in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and it’s been a daily practice for me for well over a decade. But really any kind of writing will help clear your mind so you can better organize your thoughts and time. Even making lists helps to bring the clutter out of your mind and onto paper. The idea is to make yourself more aware of your worries, fears, tasks, challenges, and accomplishments. Only then can you let them all go.
Spend more time in nature. The essential oils of most trees, including Eucalyptus, Pine and Cypress support the Lung system in Chinese Medicine. Getting out into nature among the trees in the same way helps support this system and the Metal energy in general. One of the best ways to slow down and heal is to spend more time in nature.
All of these tools share the common theme of bringing you into a state of presence with how you feel and therefore helping you deepen your self-awareness.
Only when you’re calm inside will the world feel more clear and calm.
Decluttering and cultivating order in these small ways will support you to improve your health and bring a greater sense of clarity to every aspect of your life.