In the dance of the seasons, Autumn marks a time of transformation – a period where the vibrant energy of Summer gives way to a more introspective and peaceful phase. The ancient wisdom of the Chinese Five Element Theory provides a profound roadmap for harmonizing with this seasonal shift. In this spirit, let’s explore what the Five Element Theory suggests for embracing Autumn, a time for letting go, reflecting, and nurturing inner balance.
At the heart of the Five Element Theory lies the understanding that the universe is composed of five fundamental elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each element corresponds to a specific season, emotion, organ, and aspect of human experience. In this cyclical dance, every element supports and restrains the others, maintaining a delicate balance that is reflected in the natural world and within ourselves.
Autumn is the season of the Metal element, symbolizing a time of contraction and introspection. Metal represents structure, strength, and precision. It’s a time for us to honor the process of letting go, much like trees shedding their leaves, and to embrace clarity and purity in our lives. This season calls for reflection, an opportunity to look inward and assess what serves us and what needs to be released.
In the body, the Metal element is associated with the lungs and large intestine – organs involved in the processes of taking in and letting go. To support these organs, the Five Element Theory suggests incorporating breathing exercises and meditation into your daily routine. These practices not only strengthen the lungs but also promote mental clarity and emotional stability.
The emotion linked with the Metal element is grief. Autumn is a time to acknowledge and release pent-up emotions, allowing space for new growth and experiences. Dyer often spoke about the importance of acknowledging our emotions without becoming attached to them. Practicing mindfulness and gratitude can be powerful tools in transforming grief into acceptance and peace.
The theory also emphasizes the importance of aligning our diet with the season. In Autumn, it’s beneficial to incorporate foods that are warm, grounding, and nourishing to support the body’s energy as it prepares for the colder months. Think of root vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and warm spices like ginger and cinnamon. These foods not only provide physical nourishment but also support emotional well-being.
Autumn is the perfect time to declutter your environment and mind. Just as nature is shedding its old, we too can let go of possessions, habits, or thoughts that no longer serve us. This act of decluttering creates space for new ideas, inspiration, and clarity – elements that are essential for personal growth.
The introspective nature of Autumn aligns beautifully with spiritual practices. It’s an ideal time for meditation, journaling, and other reflective activities that allow you to connect with your inner self. This inward journey can bring insights and a deeper sense of peace and understanding of your place in the natural cycle of life. Let Autumn be a reminder that in letting go, we create space for new beginnings, finding beauty and strength in the cycle of life.
Do you ever feel like you’re tuned into the world on a deeper level than most? Like you’re the one who’ll catch the slight shift in a friend’s smile or find yourself needing a quiet moment after the hustle and bustle of a busy store? If you’re nodding along, you might just identify with being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). It’s a special trait that I identify with and one that I would classify as another form of neurodiversity.
So, What Exactly is an HSP?
The HSP brain does not function identically to its neurotypical counterpart; it is characterized by a heightened processing of emotions, an acute sensory awareness, and an intuitive grasp of the energetic and emotional climates that surround them. Think of an HSP as someone with emotional and sensory volume knobs turned up high. The world is a bit more vivid and intense through their eyes. Every sound, emotion, and vibe in the room comes in crystal clear—and it can be overwhelming, just like trying to listen to a blaring symphony all day, every day. It’s not just about their five senses though; it’s about feelings, too. HSPs can pick up on the slightest shift in someone’s emotional landscape, almost like they have an internal mood radar. The empathic nature of HSPs means they are not just aware but also absorbent of the moods and energies of people around them, making them natural empathizers.
But why are HSPs like this? Well, it’s like they’re born with a natural sensitivity setting that’s then shaped by the world around them. Maybe they grew up in a home where they had to be in tune with a parent’s emotions, reading the room and tiptoeing around feelings. This combination of nature and nurture turns them into adults who are incredibly attuned to the world’s nuances.
Neurodiversity: A Different Flavor of Being
Neurodiversity is a term that acknowledges and respects a variety of neurological experiences as natural variations within the human population. It encompasses a range of conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and more. It’s this beautiful concept that suggests our brains aren’t meant to be cookie-cutter copies of one another. It celebrates differences in brain makeup and acknowledges that these aren’t flaws—they’re just variations in the human condition.
The concept of neurodiversity shifts the dialogue from one of pathology to one of acceptance and inclusion, recognizing that each brain is unique and that these differences should not be stigmatized but embraced as part of the rich tapestry of human cognition.
Walking in a Neurotypical World When You’re Not
Imagine walking through life with shoes that just don’t fit—that’s often how it feels for neurodiverse folks in a predominantly neurotypical world. It can be like trying to understand a language you weren’t taught, or feeling out of step with what everyone else seems to innately grasp. And this is the daily reality for HSPs, too.
Picture this: the average day is bustling with noises, people, and a thousand little stressors that most can shrug off. But for HSPs, those same things can feel like a lot. The constant buzz and emotional static of the world don’t just fade into the background. It’s not about being fragile; it’s just that when you feel everything so intensely, the world’s volume feels cranked up to eleven.
Living as an HSP in a world catered to neurotypical preferences requires resilience and often necessitates developing personal coping strategies. HSPs must learn early on to create boundaries and safe spaces to recharge. They also have to navigate the misconception that their sensitivity is a hindrance rather than a nuanced way of engaging with the world and overcome the pressure to conform to a society that values stoicism over sensitivity.
Folding HSPs into the neurodiversity conversation isn’t about slapping on a label; it’s about recognizing and celebrating them for the depth and richness they bring to the human experience. It’s a gentle reminder that being an HSP isn’t a shortcoming—it’s a superpower in its own right. Many healers (like me!), writers, musicians, craftspeople, and therapists are HSPs and we need these folks in our lives! So here’s to the HSPs: the world needs your sensitivity, your empathy, and your unique way of seeing things. Keep feeling deeply—it’s your gift to us all.
In various healing traditions, it’s believed that different parts of our body correspond to diverse emotional states. From the harmonious balance of the Yin and Yang in Chinese medicine to the holistic equilibrium of the three Doshas in Ayurvedic tradition, these ancient teachings have long highlighted the relationship between our physical and emotional selves. Today, let’s delve into the intriguing connection between two parts of our digestive system: the pancreas, often linked to over-planning and undue worry about the future, and the small intestine, associated with discernment – distinguishing what serves us from what doesn’t.
The pancreas, a vital organ, beckons us to the importance of living in the present. Responsible for both releasing essential hormones like insulin or glucagon and secreting digestive enzymes, its optimal functioning requires an acute awareness of the here and now. Yet, for many who are ensnared by the chains of future anxieties or the shadows of the past, the pancreas may act prematurely. Overactive pancreases might release an excess of digestive enzymes or prematurely discharge insulin or glucagon. In contrast, for those grounded in the present, the pancreas astutely observes what is ingested, producing the right balance of digestive enzymes. Similarly, insulin and glucagon production ideally should be a present-moment response to our body’s blood sugar levels.
The small intestine, our body’s center of discernment, can also bear the brunt of excessive worry. Acting as a gatekeeper, it discerns between nutrients to absorb and waste to eliminate. However, when one struggles with personal discernment, the small intestine might falter, leading to issues like inadequate nutrient absorption or even the onset of leaky gut syndrome. Discernment, in essence, is akin to maintaining healthy boundaries. It challenges us to ask: Do we recognize what truly aligns with our essence? Can we assertively decline what doesn’t resonate, making space for what genuinely nourishes our soul?
Our digestive quandaries could be reflections of deeper emotional challenges: excessive worry or an impaired sense of discernment. To begin to heal you must immerse yourself in the present, unhindered by past regrets or future anxieties. As life unfolds, continuously question – is this in harmony with my true self? Should I embrace this or make space for what truly resonates?
And if you find yourself seeking deeper insights into these interconnections, or need guidance to navigate them, don’t hesitate to reach out and book a consult call with me; let’s explore these dimensions together and chart a path to holistic well-being.
The week before last was a really hard one. On top of a very busy week with work and some challenging situations with clients, I found out a friend had passed away and someone else who’s like a father figure to me is declining fast with dementia and probably only has a few months left. By the end of the week, I was fried. I could feel how much I’d pushed my nervous system through to just make it to the weekend and how badly my nervous system needed some space and time to release and come back to a calm, balanced state.
I decided to plan a 2-day nervous system reset over the weekend, and it worked wonders. By the end of the two days, I felt calm, I had more energy reserves, and I had a more balanced perspective on all of the things going on in my life.
I want to share what I did over the course of 2 days to let my nervous system heal and reset. I share this with you knowing that I have a lot of privilege and not everyone can implement these strategies like I did, but I’ll share them in the hopes that you can make a version of this work for you.
Here’s what I did over two days to reset and heal my nervous system.
- Sleep-Centric Day 1: Day 1 was all about sleep. I let myself nap as much as I needed to. I woke up on Saturday around 7:30am, napped from 9-10am, napped from 2-3:30pm, napped from 5-6pm and then went to bed at 10:30pm.
- Meditation-Centric Day 2: Day 2 was all about meditation. I picked one meditation that I love and that feels relaxing and I did it on repeat throughout the day. I woke up and meditated before I even got out of bed. About 2 hours later I did it again. Throughout the rest of the day I meditated whenever it crossed my mind, probably 6 or 7 times throughout the day. I then did it one more time in bed before I went to sleep. Here’s the one I chose: https://youtu.be/XHvtIcaD194?si=FZCS60wAXA6p277b (I do love me some TNH!)
- Digital detox: I put all devices on do not disturb and only checked them once or twice a day. I also avoided TV or other entertainment media. I know that “relaxing” by scrolling social media is actually anything but relaxing for my nervous system. Social media and most entertainment programming are designed to interact with our brains and bodies to activate us and release dopamine and other activating neurotransmitters. I could also tell that I needed a break from communication –every time my phone chimed with a text or email, I could feel the overwhelm rise up in my body. My emotional cup was totally full and even friendly messages felt like too much for me. So, my phone went on DND and got stowed in a drawer so I couldn’t see the screen. If I did see a message, I asked myself if it was something that absolutely couldn’t wait 2 days for a reply. If it was something that did need a reply, I gave myself permission to write as simple and short of a reply as I could, even telling a few people I’d get back to them after the weekend.
- Engage in Joyful Activities: I only did activities that felt good to me. On day one, I did some laundry and picked up around the house a bit. On day two, I walked to the market to get ingredients for one of my favorite things to cook and took my dog to the park. If the thought of doing the activity caused me any feelings of stress or “should” then I didn’t do it, knowing that it would get done at some point, just not now. In between napping, meditating, and doing these few things I mostly read and listened to music, making sure to pick things that felt calming and joyful. Basically, I asked myself, “will this contribute to my peace, cam and joy?” and if the answer wasn’t a whole body “hell yes!”, then it was a no.
- Easy-to-Digest Diet: I ate one easy-to-digest food for the whole time. Digestion takes a ton of energy and our nervous systems are interwoven into our digestive systems. I wanted to make things as easy as possible for my body, so I bought a big bag of organic yellow potatoes and ate boiled potatoes with salt and butter for the whole first day and until dinner the second day, when I made one of my favorite nourishing meals. I also made a point of drinking lots of water throughout the day. This step isn’t for everyone – I tend to have a small appetite and it feels good to do this every now and again, but if this feels like it would be a stressor on your body, don’t do it! Trust your intuition on this one.
Our bodies inherently seek equilibrium, but occasionally we must intentionally afford them the recovery time. This 2-day plan will give your body the space, time and care it needs to do just that. If you decide to try it, I’d love to know your experience!
In an age dominated by ever-increasing productivity standards, curated social media personas, and financial rewards tied to relentless ambition, many of us have fallen into the trap of viewing ourselves primarily in terms of our usefulness or desirability to others. This worldview not only diminishes our individuality but also dangerously tethers our self-worth to external validation.
Such an outlook often stems from a long-standing social conditioning that, at its heart, is deeply rooted in systems of oppression. By unpacking and addressing these roots, we can begin to break free and value ourselves for who we are, rather than merely what we offer.
If your sense of pride or accomplishment is primarily based on ways you serve others (hello healers, coaches, therapists and teachers!) then it’s essential to pause and reflect. While there’s a genuine and beautiful value in helping others, defining one’s entire self-worth by this metric can be harmful. After all, aren’t there countless aspects of your character, like your intelligence, grit, or even the charming freckles on your face, that make you uniquely you? Why is it that we so often don’t know how to be proud of these inherent qualities?
Many current societal frameworks—like late-stage capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy—are essentially narcissistic systems. In these systems, individuals are frequently viewed and treated as mere objects, whether for corporate gain, male desire, or establishing superiority. We become commodities, tools for productivity, or benchmarks for comparison. In essence, these systems dehumanize us, seeking to strip us of our intrinsic value.
In the face of late-stage capitalism, we become mere gears in a vast machine, valued primarily for our output and economic contribution. Under patriarchy, women may often find themselves reduced to objects of male desire or gauged by their relational roles as daughters, mothers, or spouses. White supremacy, rooted in racial hierarchy, views non-white individuals through a lens of bias, prejudice, and often, devaluation.
So, how do we counteract such deep-seated conditioning? First, you must recognize and challenge these narcissistic systems. Understand that you are more than a mere instrument for someone else’s benefit.
Start by reflecting on your personal achievements and characteristics, whether or not they benefit others. Perhaps you’ve started a new hobby, made a new friend, or cultivated a rich inner world of thoughts and ideas.
Affirmations, repeated daily, can rewire negative self-perceptions; try statements like “I am valuable for who I am, not just what I do.” Surround yourself with supportive individuals who recognize and celebrate your intrinsic qualities, and remind yourself regularly why these people like you – it’s not because you’re useful to them, it’s because they feel connection with you.
Lastly, invest time in activities you love, not for any external reward, but simply because they resonate with your soul.
Reclaiming our individuality and inherent worth is an act of resistance against oppressive systems. Learning to value ourselves for who we are, rather than merely our utility, is how we challenge and subvert these systems, paving the way for a world where every individual is recognized, celebrated, and valued for who they are, not what they’ve done. We are human beings after all, not human doings, and it’s time for us to place value where it really belongs.