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Autumn: the Mental and Spiritual Aspects of Metal

Autumn is the time of appreciation and letting go. In Chinese medicine, these functions are performed by the Lung and the Colon.

by Ki Ennes

Autumn is the season that is both beautiful and bittersweet. The beauty is obvious. Red, gold, and orange leaves vibrate against a crystal blue sky. There can also be a sadness associated with Fall as many children leave home for the first time to go off to college or their first day of kindergarten. In Chinese medicine, Fall is the season of the Metal element.


The organs associated with the Metal element are the lung and the colon. Some of the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of these in Chinese medicine are a sense of beauty, appreciation, inspiration, acceptance, letting go, and grief. Can you still see the beauty on a cloudy day? Are you able to accept loss, learn from it, and move on? Can you look at your own flaws and imperfections? Can you let go of the crap and hold onto the precious? These are all functions of a healthy lung and colon. 

Grief is a natural part of life. Loved ones die, friendships end, marriages fail, and life goes on. Grief not properly dealt with can injure the lung. In other words, if we don’t respond to grief in a healthy and timely manner we may develop lung issues. The lung’s job is to receive the pure qi from heaven. A healthy lung can accept things as they are rather than as we wish they were. 

The colon’s job, on the other hand, is to get rid of all that is not good for us. This includes mental, emotional, and spiritual junk. Anything that does not serve our highest good is eliminated by the large intestine. The lung receives inspiration, beauty, appreciation, and spiritual connection. It’s no coincidence that another word for inhalation is inspiration. The large intestine gets rid of all the b.s. 

When we get stuck in grief or in wanting life to be different than it really is, the physical manifestations might show up as asthma, bronchitis, or chronic cough.  If we find ourselves unable to let go of unhealthy attachments, this might show up in the colon as constipation or diverticulosis.  

When we feel intense grief it means that we are also capable of deep appreciation. After all, if we didn’t appreciate something, we wouldn’t miss it when it’s gone. Maintaining the healthy spiritual and emotional functions of the lung and colon requires knowing what you really value. It is then easier to let go of the things that don’t serve you. If you’re having lung or colon issues, take a look at what you value and what you can get rid of. You might be surprised to find you can breathe easier when you get rid of the clutter. The more you exhale, the deeper you can inhale. Let go and be inspired.

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