|A lovely autumn assortment of trees.|
Autumn is here! The cooler days, lovely colors, and pumpkin spice are upon us.
In Asian medicine, each season has special qualities related to Five Element Theory (learn more about each of them in coming blog posts). Autumn is considered part of the Metal element, and is associated with the Lung and Large Intestine, the color white or gray, the emotions of grief, or nostalgia, and the actions of sorting and discarding what no longer works for you.
Autumn is therefore a great time to clean. I've always thought of "spring cleaning" as a time to air out the house, and clean parts of the house that don't always get a lot of attention (washing curtains, moving everything out of cabinets and wiping down the shelves, etc.--and no, I don't often do all of those things the way my mother used to several times a year)--basically the very Five Element idea of clearing everything for a fresh start to the new year. But autumn is different. It's a time to sort through what you've accumulated over the past year and let go of what doesn't work for you, just as in your body you take in fresh air in your lungs, and let out waste through your large intestine.
This kind of cleaning often has emotional overtones. Today I cleaned out some old boxes that had been taking up space for years. I had never gotten around to the before, and now I wanted the space, and realized I would need to let go of some things before I could create what I wanted in my life. When I went through the box, I found old letters, pictures, old journals--plenty of fuel for nostalgia. And the time was right. I was able to throw out or give away some of the things I had not felt ready to discard in previous cleanouts, and plan places to put what remained so it would be on display or otherwise useful to me.
Hanging on to things that don't serve you, whether it's old letters or old ways of doing things, or old ideas that hold you back, can keep you from what you really want. Autumn is the perfect season to sort through things in your life. You may not end up with a perfectly clean space or life--my clean out is ongoing, and today I just release a little and moved around a lot as I continue to declutter. But I felt a lift of spirits just for making the attempt. If you sort through some messy stuff in your life, you may feel your spirits lift, too--but maybe only after a good cry and saying goodbye to things, relationships, jobs, or ideas that are no longer what you need or want. In Slow Paths coaching vernacular, this kind of sorting falls under "Create Space."