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. It is the animating energy that permeates the Universe.
Qi moves your metabolism and blood and helps regulate the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. With your first breath you initiate the beginning of the Qi cycle in your body, which through your in and out breath interacts with the Qi of the Universe. This Qi cycle continues its movement until your last breath. At the moment of death, your Qi leaves the body and becomes part of the Qi, or vitality of nature.
The first point on the lung channel lies just below the collarbone and is called Central Treasury. The lungs are the storehouse and distributor for that which is most precious to life: your breath, air, your Spirit. The irony of this Central Storehouse is that which is most precious is the least substantial. Like air, you can't grasp or hold onto your breath. Your capacity to live depends on breathing in and then shortly afterwards, letting go. Inspiration and expiration.
Fall is the season of letting go and of dying. It is a glory-filled season, as the leaves on the trees turn bright yellow, purple, red and orange. As the trees pull their energy back into their roots, the green life-giving chlorophyll fades and what's left is the beauty of the colors left behind, colors that were always there but were lying within. It is in the dying of the leaves that we experience their beauty. We stand in awe. And almost simultaneously, perhaps even in the next moment, the wind blows and the leaves fall to their final rest for the year.
You can experience this poignancy between appreciating the beauty of life in it's final glory and simultaneously mourning its loss. Perhaps you've experienced this in love, or with growing children, the simultaneous act of wanting to hold on and the knowing that you must be able to let go. In order to truly inhale, you must be able to release and make space for the next breath. For creative inspiration, you must continually let go of the old to make space for the new moment that's coming. As the breath and the function of the lungs teaches, you are continually arriving into this next moment.
Just as phlegm and respiratory congestion do, the emotions of grief and longing have a tendency to obscure the clear quality of the lungs. They act like clouds in the sky of your own consciousness. Inappropriately holding on to or longing for what once was inhibits your natural release and furthermore clouds the preciousness of this very 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 - that what is most essential (to life) is 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.