As we move further into the season of autumn, the energetic of the metal element sparkles with increasing brilliance and clarity. The Five Element healing wisdom from Chinese Medicine teaches us that the metal element is about letting go of what is not needed (the dead leaves of autumn) while holding onto and cherishing what is precious to us (the gold dust in our lives). This means that fall is the perfect time of year to focus on simplification, and paring down to what is essential.
Now is a good time to ask ourselves what we are ready to let go of, so that we make more room for what is really of value to us. One way we can practice letting go is to actually go through our homes and "purge" any of our physical possessions that we no longer personally need or value. Donating these things to charity organizations is a simple act of generosity, and the clearing out of one's living space can have a profound effect on one's mental and psychic clarity.
In addition to physical decluttering of our living spaces, we can also go a little deeper to simplify on the psychological and spiritual levels. It can be helpful to look at all the ways in which we over-clutter our own minds. A profound medicine for me personally on this level is daily meditation. I think it really is an ultimate medicine for all of us, as it allows one to access the clear open sky within one's consciousness.
As my teacher Lonny Jarrett often says, "Meditation is the art and science of not making a problem." When we let go of all the stories we endlessly rehash in our minds, there is no problem to solve, no thing we need to do, no issue to work out. We develop the skill of disentangling from the ego, and getting to experience instead our pure, present being. To connect with this aspect of oneself can be life changing.
For thirty minutes a day, we can commit to letting go of all of it: the mental noise, the thoughts, the worries, the stories, the planning... all of it. When those things start to surface into our consciousness we can simply let them drop away; then we return back to our ground zero state of pure being, using the breath as our guide. When we sit down to meditate, we sit down to the commitment of just... letting... go...
I'm not saying it's an easy practice, especially when our ego is clinging for dear life (which it will) to all that inner chatter and identification with itself. It can be profoundly uncomfortable to witness just how loud and chaotic our inner world is. But when we continue with this ancient, time-tested practice of meditation on a consistent basis, we are able to get down to the bedrock of stillness at our core, the bottom of the ocean beneath the waves, the truth of who we really are behind our stories.
We may connect with this inner spaciousness and freedom for only a few moments, or even seconds, at a time. That's okay. The more we practice, the more effortlessly we can start to access the vast and infinite blue sky of our unfettered consciousness. We begin to observe all of our thoughts as just clouds passing through. I know for myself that when I am consistent with a daily thirty minute practice, my mind feels infinitely more clear, and my heart feels more connected and open to all that is in my life. Thirty minutes is ideal, but if you really can't do thirty minutes, then aim for at least ten minutes every day.
Many people say they can't handle meditating because it's maddening to just sit with all that inner noise. But this is precisely why we need to meditate! Ignoring the noise will not make it go away, and its constant presence becomes a source of low grade anxiety and uneasiness. With meditation we drop down to that dimension of the self that is like the bottom of the ocean.
As is often the case in life, the only way out is through! Allow yourself, without judgment or attachment, to drop down through the churning and crashing waves of your mind and eventually you will reach the bottom of the ocean, the stillness within you. That stillness might not last for long, but you will know it is there, within you, and as with anything the more you practice the more easy it will become to access that part of yourself.
If starting a meditation practice feels overwhelming, this 10 minute guided meditation from Jack Kornfield might be helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tgZojaSyrk
Another simplification we can do this fall is to take inventory of all the little ways in which we overcomplicate our daily lives. We can ask ourselves, what are my self-imposed and unnecessary stressors? In what ways have I overcommitted myself? What can I cut out? The metal element is the blade that cuts down what is no longer needed, so we can use the autumn as a time for culling, and getting rid of what is no longer serving us.
We can contemplate how we can preserve, and not waste, that most valuable and elusive resource of all...time! Maybe there are things we are doing each day, unconscious habits that don't really serve us, that rob us of our time and energy. One idea is to consolidate the amount of time we spend reading and responding to our emails and texts to just once or twice a day. This consolidation of time frees up more time and psychic energy to be present in the real world, instead of getting sucked into the little box every hour or so.
Whatever simplification practices resonate most for you, I invite you to take stock of how you can pare down your life this season, to make more room for what you truly value, and to gain more clarity and spaciousness. The more we shed, the more we can appreciate.
As we move deeper into the more yin time of year, may we release the dead leaves we no longer need, and may we all connect with and appreciate the gold dust within our lives, and within ourselves.
This transitional time of year is a really potent time to focus in on our health of body, mind, and spirit. If you would like assistance with your healing path this fall, I would sincerely love to help you. Just email me with any questions about how I can be of service, or to schedule your next healing session.
I am a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a Heart-centered practice in the Santa Cruz mountains. See my About page for more about me and the work I do.