We’re all familiar with spring cleaning, but from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, fall is a perfect time to de-clutter and tidy up! Here’s why.
Fall welcomes the Metal Element phase. In Five Element theory, each element (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood) has special associations with particular areas of life, certain emotions, personalities, shapes, colors, seasons, and organ systems in the human body. Understanding the five elements allows us to bring harmony in our home and in ourselves. The Metal Element is all about a lesson in letting go.
The Metal Element Represents Transformation
Fall is a season of transition, the time in between summer and winter, when Yang transforms to Yin. You can see this transformation happening in the environment: leaves fall off the trees and the days are shorter and cooler. Resonating with the energy of the season, it’s natural to feel that urge to transform our own living space, as well.
The Power of Metal is to Decrease
After the growth of spring (Wood), the abundance of summer (Fire), and the harvest of late summer (Earth), we come to fall (Metal), a time to decrease. When summer transitions to fall, we can feel the weight of excess accumulation in the form of mental and physical clutter. Decluttering our space will help to let go of excess and find levity in our space.
The Metal Element Likes Structure
Following the endless summer days, fall brings back routine and structure. The school year begins, summer travel ends, and its back to the day planner. The Metal Element thrives with structure, organization, and methodical planning. Now is the time to bring that metal energy into your home!
In her book The Holistic Home, Laura Benko explains that fall is a time of harvesting and gathering your ideas: “Use this time to prepare yourself for future goals like researching for a book, collecting ideas for redecorating, or planning a wedding or trip.” Decreasing clutter invites space that fosters ideas, planning, and preparation.
Note: if you need some organizational or decor ideas, consider incorporating some Metal Element feng shui. The color of metal is white, and its shape is a dome. Incorporate items made of metals, rocks, and minerals into your home. Examples are bronze picture frames, stainless steel kitchen containers, white desk organizers, and geode bookends.
Grief Is the Emotion of Metal
Fall is the season when the Qi (energy) moves inward, and days become shorter and darker. Grief is part of the Qi of the season: there is decay in nature, and a strong sense of letting go as nature prepares for new life. Cleaning out our closets can allow feelings of sadness and loss to move through in a healthy way.
The Metal Element Organ Systems Inspire and Let Go
The lungs and the large intestine are the organ systems associated with the metal element and the fall season. The lungs are about inspiration, and the large intestine is about elimination. Our lungs take in cleansing breaths and exhale carbon dioxide. The large intestine eliminates waste from digestion. Both organs let go of toxins and absorb essential nutrients needed for life.
Staying in sync with the seasons, we should bring this theme of discernment into our home come fall. What is valuable, what is not? Consider the energetics of the lungs: cleansing, purification, and inspiration. Create a space that inspires you! Consider the energetics of the large intestine: elimination. Let go of excess and things that are no longer needed, and tackle spaces that make you feel weighed down.
We acquire a lot of material possessions during our lifetime. Many spiritual teachers recommend that people continuously let go and pass through life, contrary to our tendency to hold, posses, and hang on to things. When we hold on to things for too long, there is lack of movement and change, and the Qi (energy) in our home becomes stagnant and our personal energy can feel compromised.
Organizing, decluttering, and perfecting the home will come more naturally to people with more metal energy in their elemental make-up (hello, Marie Kondo!). But achieving a minimalist, highly organized space is not for everyone. The fall clean-up is more about cleaning out your closets, creating a space where you feel inspired, a space where you can BREATHE, a space that feels lighter, and a space that fosters the Qi of ideas and creativity to flow.
Benko, Laura. “The Holistic Home: Feng Shui for Mind, Body, Spirit, Space” (2016).
Hicks, Angela. “Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture" (2004).
Morris, Laura. “Clutter vs. Mess”: www.mindfuldesignschool.com. March 4, 2019.