Balancing Act: Fire and Metal

Remember last week’s example of a Fire person and the challenges he may face getting through the Fall, the season of Metal (Fire controls Metal)?  Well, there are different challenges the season may pose depending on whether our Fire type person is more of a depleted or overabundant Fire type.

For the overabundant Fire type, Fall may be a very pleasant time.  Since Fire is meant to control Metal, during the Metal season a Fire person’s energy is drawn to make a fiery little imprint upon the world around.  An overabundant Fire type finds this easy and pleasant, sharing warmth and a sense of enjoyment and connection that helps his friends and family settle into the colder, darker months.  Aside from the timing of harvest, this may be one of the reasons we humans are drawn to celebrate so many holidays during the cold months- we need the warmth of Fire to get through the cold just as much as we need a cool glass of water to make it through a long, sweltering Summer afternoon.

So the overabundant Fire type, who may actually notice more health problems during the summer, finds Fall a pleasant, cozy time of year, and will need to concentrate more on balance during Summer, the season of Fire.  But that’s not our subject today.

The depleted Fire type, on the other hand, finds Fall much more draining.  The same natural tendencies pull this person- a desire to get out there and be “Fiery”- but the same resources don’t exist.  In order to share Fire, you must first have enough for yourself.  This person may find himself feeling drained, possibly even exhausted.

This happens because of Fire’s role controlling Metal.  Fire is meant to melt Metal, to soften and warm this sometimes cold, cruel and harsh Phase.  Metal is meant to cut away and kill all that is not essential, all that is not pure, good and true.  It is a very intellectual Phase, valuing the beautiful, the correct, and the highly ordered- but this also means it can lack kindness, humor and understanding.  Without an appropriate level of preparation and adjustment for the season, a Fire person can feel like he is drowning, despairing, barely holding the world together as the darkness descends in the Fall.

There are some ways to make the season more bearable for the depleted Fire type, though.  First, it is important for everyone, not just this Fire type person, to remember that it is alright to feel a little more Metal-ish during the Fall.  If you feel a little quieter, more introspective, maybe you’re just getting ready to examine and let go of some unneeded things, like a bad habit or an unsupportive friendship.  In fact, try journaling or just taking some time to think about something you don’t need anymore that you could allow to fall away like the old leaves from the trees.

Eating for the season will also help you adjust.  Generally speaking, eating foods that are in season helps the body to adjust.  Remember that, during the Fall, your energy is moving to a deeper, more inward-looking state.  It’s easy to see why a person might crave warm, heavy soups and stews, with more starches, during the Fall.  For a depleted Fire person, it’s a good idea to adjust these basic foods to support your Fire phase by adding just a bit more spice to your food, and making sure that these warm, hearty meals include a heavy dose of brightly colored vegetables.  This doesn’t necessarily mean five-alarm chili; just an extra sprinkling of pepper or cinnamon should do the trick.

Finally, sunlight and socializing are both imperative to help the depleted Fire type get through the Fall.  Do your best to get out in the sunlight for at least a few minutes during the middle of the day, and plan to get out and see friends at least a few times a week.  While these things may sound exhausting when you’re already tired, once you add them to your schedule you’ll find that they actually make you feel happier and more energetic throughout the Fall.

Next week, we’ll talk about how a Metal-type person may need to adjust to make the most of the Metal season…

Overview of Five Phase Theory

Posted in Chinese Medicine, Five Phase Theory.