known as wood (air), fire, water, earth, and metal (ether). It is important to remember that the elements are merely names or symbols used to describe five different types of energies in nature and our bodies. They are not the energy itself.
element has a part to play to keep our body balanced, and they intertwine and balance one another to keep our bodies healthy. Therefore, it is not a good idea to overdue one elemental energy.
The fall season is unique among the five elements in that it corresponds to two elements instead of one – earth and metal. Earth, it’s related to early fall called “Indian summer,” those last warm, light-filled days in September or October, just before the cold weather sets in. Metal relates to Autumn.
Earth energy is a stabilizing force. After all the activity of spring and summer, earth energy can help us get centered and balanced as we get ourselves ready for autumn as well as begin to prepare ourselves for winter, the season of rest and relaxation..
The earth element is also associated with the spleen, pancreas, and stomach, the organs of digestion and nutrition. This element prefers and is supported by foods that are sweet. However, choose the type of sugars you eat wisely to help the pancreas. In particular, eat foods that eastern medicine considers sweet, like apples, cabbage, carrots, dates, figs, grapes, squash, pumpkin, cauliflower, kidney beans, millet, lettuce, milk, olives, peaches, pears, squash, string beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and walnuts. And regardless of the season stay away from refined process sugar.
Eating mindfully (slow and calm) and not overeating will let your stomach and spleen work optimally. This is the season for warm and cooked foods such as soups. Movement supports digestion, assimilation, and distribution of nutrients. So, it is a good idea to go for a walk, after a meal and a short period of relaxation.
Since the earth element rules mealtime and connection with others, this is an ideal time of the year to share a dinner with neighbors and friends. Earth energy is also about our ability, to take things in, to nurture ourselves, to feel full and satisfied. When this element is out of balance a person can exhibit worry and over concern. Or the feelings of neediness, loneliness, and emptiness can arise.
Autumn and the metal energy bring the harvest, shorter days and preparation for winter. It is the time of the year when nature sheds its leaves and rids itself of what is not needed, and with its own waste (leaves), produces compost, enriching the soil, and making sure the next cycle has the nutrients it needs to grow. Similarly, for us it is the season to make sure everything necessary is used and maximized, and that anything that no longer serves us is eliminated. It is the time to practice the ability to let go of what is not needed from our body, mind, spirit, and emotions such as letting go of what happened in the past, resentments, and anger. It also reminds us that flexibility and adaptability are crucial for staying healthy and balanced during the months ahead.
The organs associated with the metal element are the lungs and the large intestine. The lungs give us the ability to receive pure qi (energy), connection to the spirit and real connection to others. Metal is the source of emotions such as good self-esteem, independence, loyalty, grief, conceit, insecurity, inability to achieve parental or spousal expectations, lack of confidence, and longing for what has been. The challenge for us is to learn how to express these emotions healthily, let go and find healing.
A sunken chest or labored breathing are signs of weak metal energy in our bodies. Also, lung illness and metal imbalance may result in a pale, sickly complexion. During this time, it is essential to take care of the lungs for we may be susceptible to colds, cough, flu, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other respiratory problems, mainly, for those who have a metal element imbalance, who could also develop intestinal issues that result in constipation or poor bowel function.
Metal energy favors brown rice and foods with a pungent taste. The pungent taste can be found in numerous spices and vegetables, such as chili peppers, garlic, onions, mustard, turnips, scallions, daikon radish, black radish, horseradish, red radish, wasabi, black pepper, ginger, and cayenne. The difference between spicy and pungent is negligible. The pungent taste warms the body, cleanses the mouth, clarifies the sense organs, enhances other flavors, and improves digestion, absorption, and elimination.
Finally, as autumn is associated with dryness, it is critical to hydrate by drinking fresh water daily. Water also promotes healthier bowel movements.
Next week, I will post a few recipes that can emphasize earth and metal energy.
Have a happy and healthy Autumn.
Dr. Toni is a Best-selling author, Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) & Registered Herbalist in San Diego, California. She holds a PhD in psychology, and a Clinical Herbalist Certificate, an HHP certificate and is a Certified Trainer in the Success Principles. In private practice as a HHP she has been influenced by a variety of clinical modalities and orientations, and by the diverse life experiences of her clients. Toni’s approach to healing is holistic & transpersonal. In her work, she integrates the principles of Eastern and Western nutrition, herbololgy, energy medicine, Buddhist mindfulness and personal counseling to assist others in working through their physical or emotional blocks to attain optimal health.