Autumn and the Metal element

This is the time to restore order and clarity to your life. Trying to fight the fading light and cooler days will only create stress and anxiety. If, instead, you embrace the darker evenings, and start to enjoy staying in more, you'll be far better prepared for winter. Enjoy wrapping up warm; go for walks in the crisp air; seek out log fires.

Structure and discipline are needed to reinstate routine after the more laid-back summer vibe though try not to become rigid. Sorting out your affairs and finances, knuckling down to work and clearing clutter are all good activities now. It's also a good time to look at bad habits or areas of chaos in your life, and see how you can restore order and cut back on what's not working for you. If you've had a summer of extravagant spending, rein in. Going with the change in energy will make you more resilient to colds and infections come winter.

Above: the Metal element is represented in the delicate, glinting detail of stone and in the gold-leaf adornment in churches.
Metal contains and defines; it shows itself in the valuable gems and minerals that enrich the earth

The lungs and large intestine

The Metal element is related to the lungs and large intestine (colon). The lungs filter the air that we breathe, so cardiovascular exercise, breathing meditations and long walks in fresh air are good for clearing and strengthening them. This will make you more resilient to colds and coughs. The large intestine filters out the last nutrients from our digested food before expelling the waste and toxins from the body. The better your diet, and healthier your large intestine, the more regular your bowels will be.

Symptoms of weak large intestine and lung energy

Constipation or loose stools are prime symptoms. If you have constipation, try getting up before 7am, as this is the ideal time to empty your bowels. If this doesn't work, stretch out your first finger and thumb on both hands and point them to the ground when you're next on the loo. This activates the large intestine channel, encouraging sluggish bowels to move. The intestines also need plenty of water to help flush out toxins. If you suffer from loose stools, cut down on dairy products, sugars and alcohol. These are "damp-forming". Pungent foods such as ginger and the onion family, are good for purging damp. Shortness of breath, erratic sweating and a weak voice are all signs of weak lung energy.

Respect, letting go and grief

Strengthening the lungs and large intestine will help you to identify what's not valuable or rewarding in your life and especially which relationships are draining you. It will also help you to let go of unhealthy situations and relationships without grieving for their loss. This energy is also about finding a balance between wanting to cut yourself off emotionally from people in order not to get hurt, and engaging with them openly. Make sure you don't become too rigid in your approach, too stuck in routine and ritual; for instance, allow yourself to move on after loved ones die. Being too attached drags us down, whereas being freer emotionally and cultivating flexibility will help to restore your equilibrium. The Metal element is also related to respect and values. If you struggle with these issues, focus on what's really meaningful to you, on what gives you satisfaction. See more of friends who show you respect and value your friendship, rather than those who are dismissive or rude and undermining. Do you get enough respect from your bosses at work? Do you know your own worth, or are you constantly seeking external validation? Contemplating these questions, and observing how you behave in different environments, and recognising what's important to you, will help you to unlock your old negative patterns, and ultimately to dissolve them. If you need help with any of these issues, click here for my clinic details.

Qi Gong exercise to strengthen your lungs and large intestine

While sitting or lying down, imagine your lungs filling up, from the back of the ribs to the front, with an expanding white mist. Try to fill the front, back and sides of your ribs. As you do this meditation, you will naturally breathe in deeply. Try not to create too much tension with the in-breath, though; tense muscles get in the way of the soft, cleansing effect of the white mist. When your lungs are full, and your in-breath has come to a natural halt, envisage all the dark, murky muck in your lungs being slowly drawn out through two exhaust pipes in the back of your ribs, until the lungs feel empty and free again. The lung sound, which you should make on the out-breath, is a soft "ssssssssss" sound, until your breath runs out. The softer and more internal and resonant the sound, the better. Pause before taking another in-breath. In fact, wherever possible, we should pause between in-breath and out-breath, for this is the moment at which time stops still, and the ageing process is halted. This is a part of inner alchemy, in ancient Taoist practice. (Long-term practice can have incredible effects!)

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The Metal element takes over in autumn, when nature pares down to the essentials. It symbolises what's of value deep within us the sparkle of gems in the earth, while its hardness cuts and contains


Grief overwhelms us when we feel bereft without our loved ones. To help soothe our sorrow, we can focus on feeling grateful for what we shared with them, and how enriched our lives were by them


If you would like to book an acupuncture or face-reading session with me to help you tune into the seasonal energy and rebalance yourself, click here


Detoxify your lungs by deepening your breathing and getting fresh air. Clear your large intestine by reducing damp-forming foods such as dairy, sugars and alcohol, and eating more pungent foods such as garlic, ginger and onions


The health of the lungs is reflected on the upper cheeks. If they're gaunt, you're not slowing down and enjoying life enough stop and breathe! High cheekbones and an aqualine nose are signs of someone who is proud, and cuts through woolliness. Strong grooves from nose to mouth edge show a clear sense of purpose though if these lines are too deep, you may get attached to things and people too easily. See Face Reading