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The Metal Element and Grief

Updated: Nov 19, 2020



In Chinese medicine, the metal element is connected to the Lung and Large Intestine channels and organs. The Lungs govern respiration which includes the process of gathering energy for our body through inhalation as well as clearing toxins from our body through expiration. The lungs are considered the canopy of the body and much like the canopy of a forest, they have a series of branches, also known as bronchioles, which moderate what is received and expelled through respiration. In other words, resources move in and out of the body via the lungs while the lungs filter out impurities to provide the basis for building vital energy. In doing so, the lungs are able to support other crucial physiologic processes like blood circulation and digestion. The large intestine assists the lungs by dealing with waste removal further down the line with regularity of bowel movements which helps to maintain a healthy filtration system.


In considering the emotional aspect of the metal element, we must first understand the role of the Lung and Large Intestine channels in our mental processing. The Lung channel energetics include the refinement of self through self-study and reflection. The Lung channel is often associated with justice and is the system through which moral standards are set. A strong Lung energy would be seen in someone who is able to practice good judgement and who aims to self-cultivate. The Large Intestine channel energetics includes the individual’s ability to differentiate and separate pure from impure. A strong Large Intestine energy would show up as an individual’s ability to let go of unnecessary and even harmful things including objects, habits, relationships, and thoughts.


Combined, the Lung and Large Intestine channels are attributed the emotion of grief.


Grief is often viewed as a negative emotion and can evoke feelings of discomfort. We have all grieved at one point in our lives and it is important to understand the personal development that occurs when we allow ourselves a time for grief.


Grief is the process through which we express resistance to change as it is often a change that we do not see coming and/or do not wish for. Grief implies missing something; something we once had is no longer present. This can extend to objects, experiences, people, and even parts of ourselves and our personal journey in life. Moving through the grieving process allows us to understand the hidden gem of letting go. In doing so, we create space to welcome that which is nourishing for ourselves and our quality of life in the present.


Chinese medicine acknowledges grief as a natural phenomenon as it relates to the fall season. During fall, the temperature drops, and trees are signaled to shed their leaves. This process is important as the vital energy of plants gets stored in the roots to survive the coming winter. In this way, a tree strengthens itself and prepares for the following spring in which it will bloom again. Both fall and grief offer the function of release in order to create strength in the root and promise for future growth.


Keep what you know is true for yourself and embrace what supports your highest vision of yourself. Let go of the extensions that no longer represent you and your lifestyle.


This fall...consider working with grief and taking note of your own ability to let go and become a more refined version of yourself. Grief is not a singular, progressive path, but one that ebbs and flows with the changing seasons.


The holiday season begins with fall and is a time for gathering to share time, space, and abundance with our loved ones. Perhaps we understand that this period of grief can be supported by family and friends as they represent the roots which help us remain strong and grounded throughout life. It is okay to grieve and to celebrate all at once. Sometimes, the support of celebration is a catalyst for us to move through grief with support.


Here a few tips for working with grief:


1. Spend time getting to know yourself; reflect on the aspects of yourself that you appreciate and acknowledge aspects of yourself that you want to change. For list makers, go ahead and jot these down for a visual!


2. Take stock of your resources. When do you have time to work towards these personal goals? Who may you look to for support? What activities help you self-motivate? What finances are needed to move towards your goal? Again, write these down to create a visual plan!


3. Start the work. When you have set aside time, begin with small steps toward change and prioritize what is accessible in the moment. This is not linear, and you may find yourself jumping back and forth between aspects of grief and self-cultivation. Take your time and be forgiving. This process is profound and is equally as important as the outcome.


4. Celebrate. Take time and do activities that support you. It is important to continue to accept the gifts of the present.


5. Purge. As you let go, you may have physical items to let go of in order to create physical space. Consider donating these items ('tis the season)!


6. Express gratitude. Again, any cycle of letting go will inevitably shine a light on the things that stay. Acknowledge and say thank you…these are your roots that will continue to nourish you year round.

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