Heavy Metal?

Every year the Autumn brings with it change, endings and loss, of all kinds – from small ones like the leaves falling off the trees (though I’m sure it’s not a small loss for the trees themselves!), the loss of the warm summer days and light evenings, all the way through to the big losses like losing a loved one.

I remember graduating from CICM in the autumn after nearly 4 years of study and my paternal grandmother passed at exactly the same time, the same week.

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I had to deal with the loss of my classmates, loss of the college, loss of the addictive and enlightening learning, loss of the warm supportive community and deal with the change of no longer being a student and basically being out there as an acupuncturist in the big bad world… all whilst trying to grieve for my dear grandmother. It was tough to say the least.

It can seem like all the endings come at the same time when we experience loss in the Autumn, they are somehow accentuated by the time of year as the Metal Element is all about loss and grief and respect, and is associated with the Lung & Large Intestine organs. Though the emotions are difficult, there is some ironic beauty in the poetry of these losses occurring in Autumn – and we shall see why…

Chinese Medicine theory can be wonderfully literal, and it helps you to understand the dynamic of the Element, and how it may impact on your life. Metal can literally cut your skin – knives, swords and daggers are made of sharpened blades of metal… it can create a real wound that is deep and open and hurting and hideous – it can feel like this when we lose someone or something we love – the pain is palpable in the chest, the lungs struggle to breathe properly, they can’t take in any goodness from the heavens as everything feels just too raw and difficult, we can feel cut off from everything around us, as though we will never feel ok again.

But Metal is also shiny, beautiful and reflective – light can bounce off it, illuminating even the darkest of hurts. The most delicate and intricate of trinkets and charms can be made from it, sparkling gems that dazzle and amaze. The lungs can breathe in goodness from the heavens (as the Chinese describe it), allowing space for meditation, contemplation and inspiration – we can become touched, our eyes can well up… When we breathe in this air from the heavens, it can help us to let go – Metal’s link to the Large Intestine allows us to do this.

At a very basic body level, the Large Intestine releases all the rubbish (waste) we no longer need, but it also does it on an emotional level too… or not as the case may be – it never surprises me when patients who are experiencing grief and loss, suffer with constipation – it is hard to let go of someone dear to us, sometimes we don’t want to let go, or we are not ready to, so our bodies stop letting go physically. Or our cognitive brains are convinced we have done our grieving and we are totally fine, yet our energy and our bodies know otherwise, desperately holding on until we really have done some adjusting on an energetic and emotional level – the movements of Qi (energy) in our bodies know if our brains are in denial! This is where acupuncture can help these movement of energies within the grieving process, it can be an amazing support emotionally, but also physically, restoring bowel function.

Metal has the amazing ability to turn something literally shitty (Large Intestine) or something cutting (Metal), painful and suffocating (Lungs), into something poignant, touching, beautiful and shiny… this is something you will often find at funerals – it is all about the pain and the loss, the saying goodbye, letting go and getting ‘closure’, but the words spoken, the gestures made from loved ones, more often than not, turn it into something full of beauty and respect, which are the best gifts the Metal Element can give us.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

Hey Pumpkin, You’re the Apple of my Eye

 

 

Autumn is finally here after a hot start to October. The conkers and acorns are scattered on the ground, between amber leaves that crunch loudly underfoot. The last few weeks have had harvest festivals aplenty, with huge tables groaning under the weight of fresh fruit and vegetables in a vibrant multitude of colour and shape, the apples, pumpkins, squash and marrows all taking centre-stage.

This season is associated with the Metal element in Chinese Medicine, and the organs connected with the element and season are the Lungs and Large Intestine – hence all the colds, coughs and upset stomachs we can suffer in Autumn, as we head towards Winter. It is the season of harvest, when all the growth and energy of Spring & Summer comes to fruition. The goodness of the past seasons gets stored in the fruits before the trees discard the leaves, husks and stalks; they let go of everything they don’t need, and this is something we should also do at this time of the year, physically and emotionally. It is no surprise we can feel a little sad (a Metal emotion) as we go into Autumn, we grieve the loss of the Summer light, love, warmth and joy – acupuncture can help us move more fluidly through this process, creating a healthy platform for Winter ahead.

Be mindful of your breathing in Autumn – meditation or yoga can allow you to “connect” and this is important to nourish the Metal Element; get outdoors on bright days and breathe deeply, on your outbreath “let go” of emotions and issues you no longer need to hold on to… don’t be surprised if your bowels follow suit afterwards! It is a perfect time for this kind of psyche-soma detox!

We can benefit greatly from the Qi stored in fruits and seeds in Autumn, nourishing our bodies through Chinese nutrition. Watch the video blog below showing what I made with the beautiful fresh bounty I picked up at the Waddesdon Manor Apple and Autumn Fruits Fair on a sunny autumn Saturday morning this month – a Pumpkin & Apple Breakfast Loaf – and learn the energetic properties of pumpkin and apple (walnuts too!), and how this Chinese Food Energetics theory can help us take care of ourselves this season.

 

 

The Belle De Boskoop apples from the Eythrope Orchard at Waddesdon Manor were chosen as they are both cooking and eating apples – less sweet than most eating apples, and they would also keep their form when used in baking. Similarly, the pumpkin from Claydon House Kitchen Garden was grown to be naturally sweet and perfect for baking. All food nourishes our digestive system (Stomach and Spleen – Earth Element organs), but both apples and pumpkin take their route into the body via these Earth organs, AND the Lungs and Large Intestine (Metal Element) – doubly nourishing Qi in Metal’s seasonal time of Autumn.

If you would like the recipe so that you can make it yourself and nourish your own qi on these chilly autumn mornings, please email me at info@rhiannongriffiths.com with the title “pumpkin recipe”. And if you would like more information about how acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can support you and your immune system in this Autumnal transition and for the Winter months ahead, please visit the website.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011