There is no such thing as coincidence. I believe that every experience reflects clues to its origin and the answers to any challenges that arise from this experience. With this in mind, it’s interesting to note a few curious elements of the Coronavirus pandemic. Firstly, one of most serious concerns in acquiring COVID-19, is its effect on the lungs and the immune system. Another curious phenomenon is the practice of hoarding, and primarily the things being hoarded, i.e.: toilet paper, disinfectants, and cleaning products.
In Five Element medicine, each season is represented by a fundamental element, a core emotion, and two governing organ systems, along with other qualities and biological systems and organs. Interestingly, the lungs and the colon–the body’s major organs associated with purification and elimination–are the organ systems associated with the season of Fall. It’s also noteworthy that the immune system is one of the bodily systems associated with this season.
Fall is also the season when we learn to fully grieve. The core emotion of grief creates an emotional resonance resulting from the willing or unwilling letting go of something or someone we have deeply valued.
Imbalances in Fall often show up as the inability to let go and a diminished capacity to discern what is of value from that which is no longer needed. As a result, we may end up hanging onto relationships, habits, food, clothes, cars, or paperwork, long after they’re useful or functional. When our ability to let go becomes thwarted, spiritual, emotional, and physical debris back up, creating both internal and external pollution. We soon become covered in the psychic dung of our unprocessed misery, creating toxicity on all levels.
Failing to tend to our losses creates an inability to trust in a future season of abundance. An imbalance during this, the season of deep meaning and value, can cause us to confuse quantity with quality. Though we may have homes or garages or hearts crammed with mementos, we remain unable or unwilling to let go of anything in order to make room for the new. Consequently, we may find ourselves hoarding every scrap and piece of chaff within reach. We might even take on the detritus of others, fearful we might miss out on some small bit of value.
The hoarding of anything is a sure sign of a Fall imbalance, but the run on toilet paper is just too coincidental. It is the single item most used for cleansing after our colon has done its job.
As we journey into the season of Fall we must honestly assess our imbalances and learn ways to artfully bring about balance. All the sanitization practices in the world can’t correct an imbalance in the lungs or colon. In fact, the over use of these products may cause a greater imblance. (Think: the over-prescribing of antibiotics and their part in the creation of super bugs.)
Left unattended, our imbalances in one season will eventually create an imbalance in the adjoining seasons. So, for instance, the inability to let go and grieve properly will lead to an excess of Winter’s core emotion: fear causing anxiety and uncontrolled panic where we rush about doing anything and everything to insure our survival, whether it’s rational or not. While it is important to preserve those things essential to our survival, we need to retain onlywhat will sustain us through the lean months ahead. The excess is destined to become the spiritual, emotional, and physical compost that will feed next year’s crops.
The road through the life season of Fall leads us directly into our connection to God through divine inspiration (the spiritual attribute of the lungs). Stay healthy. Take reasonable precautions. Keep your fears in check. With healthy and balanced emotional, spiritual, and physical practices, we will gain the strength and resilience to face the challenges life inevitably sends our way.
I’ve been in a bit of healing crisis lately, one that has sent me to bed for several days to recover. These difficult passages often create symptoms that show up as spiritual, emotional discomfort that also manifests in the physical. Symptoms of illness can surface as we make ready for a new chapter in life. Transiting from one season to another is stressful and it’s natural to resort to old coping mechanisms. It’s not uncommon to feel restless, disconcerted, and cranky as a result.
I’m guilty of possessing what can be a hyperactive inner critic. When I’m not feeling well, either emotionally or physically, my first response can be to wonder what I’ve done wrong. I might ask myself, “Did I eat the wrong thing or stay up too late or forget to take my herbs? Is there something I need to uncover or process or forgive? Maybe I need to meditate or pray or get outdoors more.” More often, however, what I’m experiencing is a natural response to a challenging life passage. This is exactly what happened to me this past week as I welcomed in a new phase while letting go of some wounds of the past.
My book is getting ready to go to print and this a HUGE step for me! As part of this process I am simultaneously planning for a new season of growth and releasing of some old patterns and behaviors. So, it was not really a surprise that my decisions have brought up some old fears, self-doubt, and negative thought patterns.
As I battled what felt like a sinus infection and exhaustion, I wrestled–hard–with my harsh Inner Critic. I became overwhelmed with feelings that I could or should be doing something more, something better. Even though I was aware that I was undergoing a huge transformation, I’d forgotten to practice what I often teach my clients: to be gentle and generous with myself, to stop struggling, and allow for a changing of the seasons.
“Sometimes your last resort is your best resort.” –Marianne Williamson
Struggling against my discomfort was exhausting and it soon showed up in my body. My sinuses were so inflamed even my hair hurt. I retreated to my bed, feeling alone and pitiful. This time, however, instead of judging my discomfort to be the result of some personal failure, I reminded myself it just might be a signal that a healing crisis is underway. So instead of letting my unforgiving Inner Critic run the show, I asked, “What do I need right now? What is my body and soul calling for?” The answer was immediate, “Rest, support, and gentle compassion.”
Though there were still many details in getting my book ready for print and, I needed to prepare for an upcoming speaking engagement, I cleared my calendar for a few days. I also took a much needed media break and made an appointment with my healing practitioner. I supported my body by taking herbs and drinking lots of fluids.
Though asking for help does not come natural for me, I engaged in some loving self-care by texting a few of my close Mamma Bear friends, requesting their love and support. Within the hour I received their loving responses. They offered prayers of healing and kind, nourishing words. Another friend brought over some home made soup. Flooded with tears of gratitude, my exhausted spirit drank in the much needed nurturing, providing me with the strength to face old feelings of unworthiness and loss that had surfaced as a result of my commitment to finishing my book and releasing it out into the world.
Though the release of my grief and self-condemnation was intense, when I stopped resisting, it passed relatively quickly and soon I was feeling more like myself. I know that, though the process may be uncomfortable, my discomfort will soon pass if I surrender to the season at hand and don’t allow myself to become enmeshed in old behaviors and coping mechanisms. I can gently remind myself to enter into the change of seasons with a generous compassion, one that will welcome in a new period of growth.
Seasons of Reflection: How do you respond to uncomfortable feelings or situations? How to do engage in gentle self-care? What is your soul asking of you?