Are you feeling pissed off? Angry? Upset? Irritated? Frustrated? Agitated by things that are beyond your control?
It’s a good time to Let Go.
We choose to let go, not because we are detached and unfeeling (or apathetic), but because we make a conscious choice to stop wasting our precious energy and contentedness on things we cannot influence and instead shift our focus to where we can have the deepest and most profound impact, even if that sphere is smaller than we would like.
In Chinese medicine, the ability to let go is associated with the Metal element and the Lung and Large Intestine organs. It is also associated with autumn, which is a painful time of year for many people because letting go is a natural, but often painful process. Eastern traditions teach us that humans are connected to and experience the same cycles as the natural world that surrounds us. Autumn is the time in the cycle where life contracts, closes, and turns inward. It is normal to feel sadness and loss but also feel nurtured by tuning in to our internal environment. Autumn/Metal time is a natural balance to the turning outward that naturally occurs in the Spring/Wood time, creating a foundation from which to operate. Turning inward allows you to understand yourself and what you want to achieve with your life while turning outward creates the energy and forward motion to actually accomplish those goals.
In Chinese medical thought, the Lung and Large Intestine organs are primarily associated with our boundaries and interactions with the outside world. What we choose to let in and what we choose to expel. The Lung brings in what is new so that our body and sprit can expand, while the Large Intestine lets go of all that no longer serves us. Lung and Large Intestine are not separate, but rather two sides of the same movement. What this means is that you can’t have one without the other. We see this clinically all the time- breathing issues and elimination issues go hand-in-hand. This applies to our emotions as well- allowing in new experiences and letting go must also go hand-in-hand.
Metal is also associated with the desire to control and feelings of righteousness. These are both qualities that can be positive and contribute to making the world a better place, but can also cause a lot of frustration and pain when directed in a less productive direction.
How to Let Go
Take some quiet time to get clear-on what you want to achieve-and what you need to let go of.
Sit or lay down in a quiet place. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Let your face, shoulders, and belly relax. Imagine what you hope to be doing in 1 year. What will you have accomplished? What will your body feel like? How will your relationships feel? How will your actions be changing the world?
Now, think about what you will need to let go of in order to move forward. Could you accomplish more by letting go of some anger? Could you be stronger if you let go of certain vices (cookies?)? Could your relationships be more meaningful by letting go of past wrongs?
The breath connects the mind and body. By bringing the attention to deep, slow breathing, we can calm the nervous system to more easily let go of things that upset us. The breath is our constant connection to the outside world, bringing in what we need and letting go of what no longer serves us.
Lay down or sit upright, either in a chair with feet flat on the floor, or with legs crossed. Lengthen the spine and relax the shoulders. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, just above the belly button. Close your eyes and just observe your breath-feel the air enter through your nose and fill your chest. Notice how quickly or slowly you are breathing. Pay attention the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen. Gradually slow your breathing. Imagine that your pelvis is a pool of clear water and that your breath is a stream of water pouring all the way down to fill that pool. Feel your belly rise and fall with each breath.
Practice this deep breathing at least once every day. There is no such thing as too much breathing! If you are new to this type of exercise, even just 3 minutes makes a difference. Work your way up to 10-15 minutes daily.
If you’re having a hard time letting go of your emotional ‘stuff’, try purging some of your physical stuff (a.k.a. clutter or junk). Get rid of old clothes that you don’t wear any longer, pass on books that you’ve already read, toss the clutter filling your tables, closest, and shelves. Maybe it sounds a little odd, but I’ve seen people cure their constipation by clearing their homes (Remember that Large Intestine connection). Letting go begets letting go.
One of my favorite essential oil blends is made with black spruce, juniper, and cedarwood (I just call it ‘let go!’). These conifers all have a light piney quality that affects the lungs and helps to deepen the breath. In Chinese medicine terms, they strengthen the Lung Qi and metal element, thereby boosting our ability to let go.
Apply this oil to any of the key essential oil areas (inside the wrist, on the breastbone, behind the ears), or to the acupuncture point Lung 7, know for its ability to open both the Lung and Large Intestine and facilitate the Metal movement of bringing in the new and letting go of the old. This point is located on the thumb side of the wrist, around 1 inch up from the wrist joint, in a small depression between two tendons.
(And now, despite my tendency towards paralyzing perfectionism, I shall take a deep breath, publish this post, and LET GO!)
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