the wisdom of letting go

Autumn is a season of wisdom, the wisdom that comes of age, of lived experience and the recognition of the approach and imminence of death.

The fall season in Chinese medicine is associated with the lungs, which are the master, distributor and administrator of Qi. Qi is the vitality, or vital force of the body, it is what moves all living things. Qi moves our metabolism, our blood and helps regulate the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. We begin life with our first breath, and we leave this life through our last breath.

The first point on the lung channel lies just below the collarbone and is called Central Treasury. Within this name is the recognition that the lungs are the storehouse and repository for that which is most precious - air, the breath, our spirit. And it is also the recognition that what is most precious is also ephemeral. It doesn't last. We can't grasp or hold onto the breath. Our capacity to live depends on our capacity to inspire and expire. To breath in and to release.

Fall is the season of letting go. It is the most glorious of seasons, as the leaves on the trees turn bright yellow, purple, red and orange. It is in their dying that leaves display the essential beauty that lies within. In this final act, we stand in awe of the beauty of life as we simultaneously grieve its loss. The wind stirs, the tree trembles and the leaves slowly fall to their final rest.

There's a sense of poignancy emerging from this dynamic between appreciating the beauty of life and simultaneously mourning its loss. In order to truly love, we must be able to let go and allow someone the dignity of their own life. In order to inspire, we must be able to release and make space for that next breath. For inspiration, we must continually let go of the old and make space for the new moment that's coming.

The emotions of grief and longing have a tendency to obscure the quality of the lungs, like clouds in the sky. Inappropriately holding on to or longing for what once was inhibits the natural release and obscures the preciousness of this moment. The process of letting go, taking the time to grieve for what once was, is an essential piece of praising what was and moving back into an appreciation for what is. The cycles of the seasons teach us this.

This is deep truth - what is of the most essential worth is the least substantial. You can live for twenty or more days without food, but you die within minutes if cut off from air. In establishing and affirming your relationship to what's most valuable in life, you can learn from this simple lesson of the lungs. The breath, the spirit, that which guides and connects us to all things, is something we cannot grasp. We can simply live as the in and out breath, having gratitude for this next breath, and then the next, and then perhaps even one more.

Questions for you:

How do you relate to loss in your life?

What is your relationship to the material world, to your possessions?

What do you value most?

What is your relationship to your own self-worth?

What inspires you and how do you inspire others?

Please share your comments and reflections below.