An excerpt from, “The Five Elements,” on the Element of the season
It’s Fall, and I’d like to share some insights for the season from my upcoming book on the 5 Elements. This information will help you thrive in Autumn! Read on to learn the basic principles of the Metal Element, and find links at the end of this article to supporting qigong exercises and meditation practices. Have a look and let me know how you enjoy the material by commenting, liking, and sharing!
The Metal Element
The internal organs associated with the Metal Element are the lungs (yin) and the large intestine (yang); and the healing color is white.
Physically, imbalances in the Metal Element are observed through the nose and on the skin. When the Metal Element is out of balance you emotionally tend toward grief and sorrow; you become apathetic and isolate yourself from others. A balanced Metal Element exhibits feelings of strength and stability. With these positive feelings you cultivate the virtues of the Metal Element: courage and righteousness – the foundation upon which you build the perfection of joyous effort and perseverance, the Vīrya Pāramitā. The following is a translation of the Virya Paramita by the non-profit organization, “The Heart of the Dharma Collection.”
The Essence of The Vīrya Pāramitā
This Pāramitā is the enlightened quality of energy, vigor, vitality, endurance, diligence, enthusiasm, continuous and persistent effort. In order to practice generosity, virtuous conduct, and patience in the face of difficulties, we need this Pāramitā of joyous effort and perseverance. Joyous effort makes the previous Pāramitā increase and become even more powerful influences in our life. The essence of this Pāramitā of joyous effort is the courage, energy, and endurance to continuously practice the Dharma and pursue the supreme goal of enlightenment for the highest good of all beings. From a feeling of deep compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings, we are urged to unfailing, persistent, and joyous effort. We use our body, speech, and mind to work ceaselessly and untiringly for the benefit of others, with no expectations for personal recognition or reward. We are always ready to serve others to the best of our ability. With joyous effort, devoted energy, and the power of sustained application, we practice the Dharma without getting sidetracked by anything or falling under the influence of laziness. Without developing Vīrya Pāramitā, we can become easily disillusioned and drop our practice when we meet with adverse conditions. The word Vīrya means persistence and perseverance in the face of disillusionment, energetically striving to attain the supreme goal of enlightenment. When we cultivate this type of diligence and perseverance we have a strong and healthy mind. We practice with persistent effort and enthusiasm because we realize the tremendous value and benefit of our Dharma practice. Firmly establishing ourselves in this Pāramitā, we also develop self-reliance, and this becomes one of our most prominent characteristics. With joyous effort and enthusiastic perseverance, we regard failure as simply another step toward success, danger as an inspiration for courage, and affliction as another opportunity to practice wisdom and compassion. To develop strength of character, self-reliance, and concentration, is not an easy achievement, thus we need enthusiastic perseverance on the path.
How Affirmation Heals the Metal Element
When you consume yourself in sorrow without letting go and processing your grief appropriately your lungs and large intestine bear the brunt: you become constipated – physically and emotionally – and experience breathing problems and chronic conditions such as allergies and asthma. Furthermore, you are likely to succumb to frequent illness due to a weakened immune system.
Bringing your attention to the lungs with the positive messages and visualizations in the affirmations expands your breath and energy widely throughout your body, helping to heal respiratory issues. Purging sorrow and grief on each exhale releases the accumulated matter in your lungs and large intestine that causes illness and prevents these organs from performing their physiological purpose of respiration and elimination.
The affirmations for the Metal Element address a common negative belief that has been ingrained in many of us at some level: the thought, “I can’t do it.” This core belief creates feelings of hopelessness and insignificance. Feeling you are not able – or thinking you are by yourself insignificant – causes you to become lazy and apathetic, believing there is no point in trying. Whereas the affirmations for the Earth Element help you to connect with your purpose, the affirmations for the Metal Element provide you with the energy, enthusiasm, and confidence to act on your purpose unceasingly.
The season of the Metal Element is Autumn, when Indian Summer comes to a close and we feel the transition to Winter. At no other time of year is perseverance more important; you must diligently prepare for the long Winter ahead. Nature herself – through the annual cycle of the seasons – provides the motivation every year to exercise the Metal Element and cultivate the qualities of persistence and consistent effort.
Goals, dreams, and a sense of purpose are essential for a healthy Metal Element. You must hold the vision of your own personal development clearly in mind as much as possible. Imagine what the vision looks and feels like; and keep the picture in your head so your thoughts, speech, and actions are informed by it in every moment: this takes perseverance! The only way to acquire the motivation to help others unceasingly is to experience the benefits of your practice first-hand; knowing for certain within the depths of your being the importance of engaging in wholesome endeavors – creating and continually renewing the health, happiness, and peace of your body, heart, and mind.
Health, happiness, and peace are three fruits of enlightenment. You cannot find peace if you stand by and do nothing when observing the suffering of others; you cannot be happy if you are not charitable with your money, time, and energy; and you cannot be truly healthy if you do not live by universal principles of ethics and morality.
One of the critical points to gain from the Virya Paramita is that achieving enlightenment is not a selfish goal: it is the greatest thing you can do as an individual to benefit others. Another significant point is that you cannot achieve enlightenment without practice. In fact, it can be said that the goal and practice of enlightenment are one and the same, and that finding and consistently engaging in a practice (or practices) that sustain your own health, happiness, and peace is precisely how you become a source of enlightenment to others.
Here we circle the wagon back to perseverance, diligence, and persistent effort: these must be applied in any practice you wish to become proficient in. What makes the effort unique in this case is that it is accompanied by a deep sense of joy, since you know (and through your practice are continually reminded of) the profound benefits your practice brings to yourself and to others.
And don’t forget enthusiasm! My grandfather, James Howard, worked as a foreman on a GM assembly line during the Korean War where he employed the principles of trainings he received from an influential author and leadership trainer, Dale Carnegie. One of the essential messages from Carnegie’s training is, “if you want to be enthusiastic, act enthusiastic!” What a benefit it is to realize the truth of this statement. You must realize that your actions are the most powerful way to change your feelings; you cannot wait to feel a certain way before you act. As you practice the affirmations of the Metal Element you begin to fill your life with wholesome activities – that is the most effective way to fill your inner-world with peace and joy.
Enjoy your practice with the full cycle of affirmations for the Metal Element! Like and share if you enjoy!
Affirmation Cycle for the Metal Element
Breathing in, I feel my lungs
Breathing out, I release my sorrow
Breathing in, white light fills my lungs
Breathing out, I feel strong and stable
Breathing in, I am courageous
Breathing out, I live with joyful enthusiasm
Breathing in, I know the benefits of my practice
Breathing out, I persist in wholesome endeavors
Being a Healer with Metal Element Wisdom
It is rarely a challenge to find ways to utilize the healing wisdom of the Metal Element, as there is no shortage of people in the world who feel despair and loneliness. Whenever anyone around you is feeling sad, hopeless, or depressed, your words of encouragement can be powerful medicine. Similarly, you may find just as often there are those around you that just need a little nudge to gather the courage to take steps in a positive direction. You cultivate a strong Metal Element power when you have a “can do” attitude – you believe that you can do it – no matter what the obstacle. You become a Metal Element Healer when you instill in others the same sense that they can do it!
It’s usually the case that to heal with one Element you need to throw in a dash of the preceding Element to be effective. The preceding Element in the cycle nourishes the next, according to the principle of the generative cycle described in Chapter 1. Use the Earth Element wisdom to remind someone of the value they provide in their relationships (whether it is with you, their family, their work associates, or any person or group in their community). This reminder connects the individual to their purpose (or at least a significant part of it), and naturally conveys the importance of continuing in actions that benefit the community they are a part of. Remind this person of the times they have succeeded, to give them confidence they can be successful now and in the future. Remember that as a healer your energy condition is crucial. To give another confidence that “they can do it,” your enthusiasm needs to be infectious!
The Joy of the Metal Element
Living life infused with an unconquerable sense of meaning, purpose, and mission!
With a strong Metal Element you persist in fighting the good fight. Implicit in this statement is that you have a strong sense and connection to what the “good fight” is. What is the purpose of your life? What gives your life a sense of meaning and mission? Why are you here? To persevere joyfully you need faith in your purpose, or at least confidence that your persistent action will yield a positive result of some kind.
The simplest way to discover meaning in your life is to evaluate how you benefit others, and recognize the value you bring to your friends, family, and community. Imagine that you are no longer living or that you’ve given up on life completely; it is not difficult to envision the sense of loss this would inflict upon the people in your life.
Finding and maintaining a sense of purpose and meaning is itself a task that requires diligence and perseverance. You must continually ask the questions: Why am I here? What do I want? Who am I? It is only in asking and incessantly praying and meditating on these questions that you maintain the connection to your personal mission. Just as Sisyphus is fated to roll the boulder up the hill every day only to see it roll back down to the bottom again, you must renew your sense of purpose every day and in every moment.
Checking the Metal Element
The Joy of the Metal Element becomes excessive when you push too much. This happens when you overwork without stepping back to think about what you’re doing and observe the results of your efforts. If you persist in action without an