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Insights From Metal

Within the system of Chinese Medicine, five elemental phases (Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Water) describe and express how nature's rhythm intersects and interacts with our individual physical, emotional and mental being.

Here, we look into the phase of Metal. Although it is associated with the seasonal energy of Autumn, 2020 is the year of the Yang Metal Rat (see my previous post). This shift in energies gives an opportunity to explore how each elemental phase, or aspect, is always appearing within the others.

Metal is rising up through this Water, or Winter, season as we dive into 2020. Some of its main qualities are INSPIRATION and ELIMINATION. (These come up within the energy pathways of the Lung and Large Intestine channels inside our bodies. Some more on that below).

It's a continuous cycle.

The aim is to cultivate a structured, yet moving, rhythm. This helps us engineer our personal structures - honoring our own natural tendencies and expressions - to give a flexible physical and emotional framework.

This allows new flow, new resources to come in and makes room for our plans and wishes to manifest.

We also have the energy to see what obstructs our flow - what we haven't removed or released.

So, we would need to know: What am allowing IN? What am I holding onto?

What happens when I consider taking a dive, going deeper, to explore my inner truths?

So, check: Are you willing to pause and take a few moments to experiment?

Let's go inside ourselves together for a few moments.

It's just about inquiry. Asking ourselves some questions, then just listening to the natural answers.

We use the immediate and available awareness of our own breath.


Breathe in for a moment. Keep reading and let yourself become more aware of taking in the air.

Observe and feel the sensation of the air moving into your nostrils and down into the chest.

What do you actually feel physically as this happens? (Without allowing an inner critic to take over) just hear any commenting inside your mind.

What is it feeling like, to pause gently and do this?

See how far the air goes in.

Notice when it actually seems to expand your lungs.

What thoughts start to come up, just sitting and watching, feeling your breath.

At this stage, we just keep merely noticing.


At some point, the air builds up inside and it turns to find exit.

Keep observing this.

At what point does it tip over the top of the expansion of breathing and want to go out.

Just notice if there's anything that hesitates, waits, or rushes, hurries.

And as before, notice if any thoughts come up as it releases.


Really, just keeping it this simple can sometimes show us interesting information about our internal automatic experiences. Even if this information is that it bores you or makes you unsettled.

What's interesting is that this is the first way to train ourselves to seek and find the deeper place of ease and peace in our body and mind.

What's wonderful (and valuable) to realize is that the breath itself is naturally peaceful. It just sometimes is running into blocks or is getting hung up in places that don't allow a flexibility of movement.

So, right now, is your breath coming in with ease?

Do you notice any places inside you that it doesn't move as easily?


In acupuncture training, we learn the technique of feeling the pulse. In western medicine, we often think that the pulse only measures heart rate or blood pressure. However, in eastern medicine, we also use it to register the more subtle flow of your energy circulation.

By feeling the pulse at the wrist, we start tuning in and detect the qualities of energy circulation. Each position on the wrist where we place our fingers matches a location for various pathways of this internal energy flow.

Each pathway has a general personality or quality. Lung and Large Intestine channels, for example, run through those named organs. They include these physical organs and geographical areas, but also contain and express our emotions, moods and feelings.

Lung and Large Intestine pathways are designated to TAKE IN and what we RELEASE. They indicate - how is our internal landscape inviting, welcome, accepting what comes in, and what is, or not, releasing.

So when we observe our own breath process, we can get direct information.

Even the way we say things about ourselves and our life:

"There's too much coming in!"..."I can't take another thing in!"..."I need more!"


"I am so inspired!...WOW! Look at all this for me to take in!...this is so valuable to me, I welcome this!"

That's our Lung, or Metal part, talking.

And, the other end (literally) of the spectrum:

"I can't let this go...I can't move on...there's too much I haven't done with this...I still don't know what I got out of what I took in..."

Large Intestine speaking. The structure that has received from the outside, and is responsible for preparing and releasing what has been used.

("Am I rushing to finish and get rid of things too quickly...? Am I not letting go when it's time?")

So we can see - sometimes things are coming in or leaving too fast, we are hurrying. Shallow breathing, choppy, tight, strained. Sometimes too, a rushed expulsion of our "waste" or a constipation - we're stuck, holding on.

The correlations between this and uncomfortable symptoms we have are often remarkable. And, are much easier to understand and connect our attention to than we think.

We can just slow down enough to watch our own felt experience.

This is what the Metal shows a practitioner like me. I am taught first to listen to symptom words, what a patient is saying. Then to wonder with them:

What has been 'coming at them' in their life recently?

Are they struggling to 'digest' their present situations?

Are relationships (outside connections) a struggle right now?

It's always startling to see how symptoms like clogged sinuses, infections, cough, bloating, constipation or diarrhea show up in tandem with someone's story.

It helps me see and understand more vividly their flow may be obstructed.

These physical experiences speak candidly to me of any possible emotional and mental energy blockages, weaknesses or imbalances.


I've found that it's well worth the time to explore this directly. Not only do my tools to evaluate physical parts of a person, but merely listening to what the body is trying to say can be more efficient.

This skill and function of Metal is called DISCERNMENT: the ability to distinguish. We want to find out what is VALUABLE to us. WORTHWHILE.

What, now, is worth TAKING IN and Keeping.

What, now, is a WASTE of our time and energy to hold onto.

Studying ourselves from questions like:

  • Am I taking in too much?

  • How stuck or cluttered do I feel...physically, mentally, emotionally?

  • Is my rhythm clear and easy...or jagged and tight?

  • Am I seeing things that happen to me as possibility...refreshing, new and expansive? Or...recycled (same ole, same ole)...stale and stuck?


We can't feel stable enough to move forward without this knowing. Being willing to construct - within our own framework - takes us with ease into our Water element, which is about our deeper knowing. This is where we discover our wisdom, our intuitions, our deeper truths.

In the next post, I will discuss more about the element of Water. But for now, I offer you the inquiry:

What can we learn and see that is valuable to us at this point in time?

What is most meaningful to take in, have, and experience?

These answers are unique to you. We can point out to ourselves to creating new space for new thoughts and things that are valuable and worthy to us.

We explore like this to remember what truly inspires us and how to trust our own insights.

Forging on,


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