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Complementary Corner

Letting go could save your life!

Renee Lehman

(10/2016) Fall is natureís season of harvest. It is a time for gathering natureís crops before Winter settles in. In nature you can see the leaves changing color and beginning to fall to the earth. Sap in the trees drops to the roots, light and warmth of the sun grows scarce, and there is an abundance of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Can you see how natureís energy is moving downward (letting go) and inward?

One of the many gifts of Fall is the opportunity for nature (and us) to "let go." The trees let go of their leaves to enrich the soil for Springís growing season. With the leaves falling off the branches, we can see more clearly through the trees. This allows us to acknowledge natureís beauty and awe, and acknowledge the intrinsic value of everything of creation.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the season of Fall is associated with the Lungs and Large Intestines. In TCM, the Lungs (LU) and Large Intestines (LI) have many functions on a body, mind and spirit level. Overall, they allow for the natural flow of "letting go of the old and taking in the new." They are so interdependent, that if one does not function well, the other will fail. Just think of how if you donít let go (LI), you wonít be able to take in (LU), and if you donít take in (LU), you wonít have anything to let go (LI). Can you see any examples of this with your own body/mind/spirit?

The Lungs are considered to be the Minister and Chancellor to the Heart. They regulate the rhythm of your life. Think about how your breathing is very rhythmical without you having to concentrate on it. On a physical level, the Lungs literally receive the pure Heavenly Qi (also known as air). The Lungs then release the waste product of carbon dioxide to the outside environment (so that more oxygen will then be taken in). We breathe in a very matter of fact way. However, in many world cultures and religions, meditation and prayers are done by being mindful of oneís breathing. The Lungs also regulate the strength of your voice. When the Lungs are in balance, you will have a strong voice, breathe easily, and have no problems with phlegm/mucus.

On an emotional and mental level, the Lungs are responsible for receiving inspiration, the feelings of self-worth, and realizing the richness of life. How many times have you had an "Ah Ha" moment? Suddenly, you "see" the answer or understand something so clearly. That "spark" of inspiration comes from the Lungs. If the Lungs are out of balance, then you may experience life as dull or "cold," feel inert and uninspired, lack respect for and devalue yourself and others, or even strive for perfectionism (instead of excellence).

On a spirit level, the Lungs are responsible for your inspiration that "feeds" your spirit. Since the Lungs are connected with the Heavens, they give our life a sense of quality and higher purpose. We need this guidance from the Heavens to inspire us. Possible examples of this would be religious experiences (visions of saints, enlightenment experiences, and mystical experiences of prophets of all religions), or even your own experience of the connection with the Heavens that brings you joy.

The Large Intestines are considered to be the "Drainer of the Dregs," and remove the waste products from within us. As it carries away the impurities of the body, mind, spirit, it leaves us pure and brilliant. Letting go of the old and worn out ideas, beliefs and actions allows for us to make positive life transformations.

On a physical level, the Large Intestine is the "Great Eliminator." It receives the transformed food/drink from the small intestine, absorbs any remaining fluid and minerals, and then eliminates the waste, also known as the "mundane qi" (the qi that has lost its value). When the Large Intestine is out of balance, you may have constipation, diarrhea, or find yourself over-collecting things that are of value to you (knick-knacks, baseball cards, jewelry, etc.).

On an emotional and mental level, the Large Intestines are responsible for letting go of impurities of the mind. It judges the value of things that will affect our quality of life and releases the worthless thoughts and behaviors that could keep our life unpleasant. When the Large Intestine is in balance then we are able to let go of the past, impure thoughts, and grudges; while at the same time keeping things of value.

On a spirit level, the Large Intestines are responsible for the letting go of things that no longer serve us. This allows space for new growth and changes in your life. For example, a balanced Large Intestine would allow for you to extract the "gems" from rubbish that you are exposed to daily, and allow you to grieve the loss of a loved one and then move through the grief, allowing space for new growth in that area. It would also give you a sense of quality to your life, because it removes the things that could contaminate your spirit; therefore, causing you to feel "stuck" or "blocked up."

TCM states that when Qi flows smoothly through the body then disease or illness cannot enter. So, when your Qi is stuck or blocked, illness occurs. Think about the emotions that you have held onto from your past. Could they be connected to your current state of physical health? Absolutely! Suppressed emotions associated with stress, anger, regret, sadness and fear have a negative effect on our level of health. Letting go of these suppressed emotions can be incredibly healing for the body/mind/spirit.

In a groundbreaking stress study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1991, 420 men and women took surveys on a variety of factors, including their stress levels. Then some of the subjects were given a nasal spray that contained saline, while others were given a nasal spray that contained the common cold virus. They all knew this information, they just didnít know which one they would be receiving. The individuals who reported that they were more stressed developed a full-blown cold, while those who reported being less stressed were better able to fight off the cold. This study demonstrated that holding on to stress makes you more vulnerable to developing disease. Hundreds of other studies have continued where this study left off, showing that suppressed emotions weaken the immune system.

The good news is that studies have shown that "letting go" of feelings of stress, anger and/or fear can strengthen your immune system Ė and very quickly, too (Radical Remission by Kelly Turner, PhD). This makes sense from a TCM perspective Ė by letting go, Qi can move freely and allow for balance and harmony within the person; therefore, allowing no room for illness or disease to exist.

So, allow yourself to be supported by the energy of Fall, and LET GO for your own sake! In the upcoming November article you will learn about some helpful strategies to Let Go.

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." - Mark Twain

"Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isnít you - all of the expectations, all of the beliefs - and becoming who you are." - Rachel Naomi Remen

Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist and physical therapist with over 25 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg, PA. She can be reached at 717-752-5728.

Read other articles by Renee Lehman