I spoke of the liver just last week and if you read those two articles you will understand that the liver does not belong to the energy of autumn, but rather spring. Now I am presenting the true organ of autumn within the body, the lungs.
It is in-fact autumn, as the autumnal equinox has passed a week ago and here in northern New England the foliage colors are in full bloom! Autumn is kind of like spring but with every leaf becoming a blossoming flower of radiant hue.
This is truly the season that the energy of the lungs and thus the health of the lungs best align with. But why and how? Not only is it important to know what organ aligns with what season, but it is even more important to understand why. Without the understanding of why the knowledge of which fits where is meaningless and useless.
The lungs are of course responsible for the act of respiration in the body. This much is quite obvious. The lungs expand drawing external air in for the red blood cells to gather oxygen and bring it to all areas of the body. Then the waste products in the form of vapor and water are expelled along with heat as the lungs contract. This is all well and great but this is only a part of the job the lungs are in charge of. Beyond respiration the lungs have a very big job to do in all of our bodies.
The lungs are one of the top most organs in the human body and for very good reason. Usually when you have something set higher in elevation that thing becomes an observer and sort of supervisor to things below. The lungs are no exception. We must first understand that the lungs do not act on their own. They are part of the body and therefore connected to all internal systems. This also means they have their direct connections with select organs below them.
The two main organs the lungs are most strongly connected to are the kidneys and the spleen. The direct viscera the lungs connect to is the large intestine. Why you may ask and how. Let me start by saying that the lungs are the final step in digestion. Digestion you may ask? Yes, digestion.
When we eat food it is first the sight and smell that simulates the earliest stages of digestion. The mind prepares the body for food. We chew it and the saliva starts the internal process. Down the throat and into the stomach the chewed food goes where bile from the gall balder dumps in and churns and dissolve away. Through the duodenum the mush goes and into the small intestine. The small intestine categorizes the nutrients and waste of the mush. Indigestible material goes either straight through into the large intestine or over to the liver for further attempted processing. If the liver cannot digest it the waste is sent back or gets trapped in a congested liver to congest it some more.
The energy of the nutrients in the mush are sent to the spleen while the actual material nutrients are sent throughout the body to feed it. The spleen takes the energy of the nutrients and processes them into a potent energy that in then sent upward to… you guessed it- the lungs. Finally the lungs get this power-punch of energy from the spleen’s work of transforming the raw food energy into a higher level energy. The lungs complete the digestive process by turning the potent spleen energy into a pure refined energy; an energy that can now successfully be absorbed and used by all organs of the body. If the lungs are healthy they send this refined energy downward into all the organs and feed them the final stage of digested food.
Now of course all of that done with the greatest and highest success relies upon the health and therefore balance and strength of all organs involved. If one or more organs are not happy, that process breaks down and the overall energy and quality of the body falters. Just like a fine Swiss clock, all perfectly made and honed parts work in perfect unison with one another. Destroy the integrity of just a single part and the entire clock fails to keep accurate time.
The main task of the lungs is refinement. Just like in the season of autumn, all life has reached a pinnacle of refinement after a year of sleeping, waking, expanding, birthing, growing, moving, tending, maturing and finally, the harvest and refinement of the years processes to store and use all winter long. This is exactly what the lungs do, refine the final energy and send it down into storage within all the other body’s organs.
Lungs also happen to be the body’s first self defense organ of the immune system. If the lungs are weak the body is much more likely to contract virus or bacteria through airborne dispersal.
When the night comes on and our bodies go into rest mode the energy of the lungs sinks downward to find a resting place in the kidneys. So during later phases of digestion the lungs have their strongest connection with the spleen, but during rest they harbor with the kidneys. I used the term “harbor” for a good reason. The kidneys are of the pure water element. The lungs can be viewed as literally docking their energy in the harbor of the kidneys… but why?
Lungs do not enjoy dryness and suffer when they become dry. The lining of the lungs need moisture to maintain their delicate construction. The lungs take in air, air that gives oxygen to water and sit high upon the mountain within the body. The kidneys are the lowest point of the organs, the “ocean” at the bottom where all waters flow. Look at the environment and you will see. Water is evaporated and refined high in the atmosphere and then falls to the earth bringing life itself. It could be rain, snow or dew, but it is all water. The water must pass through the air, the air is the lungs. After the air refined the water if allows it to grace the earth with renewal. At night the air becomes heavy and sinks to the valleys and canyons to rest. When the sun rises the air floats upwards again. In short, water gives the air a place to rest at night and so the lungs energy rests in the low valley of the body’s organs- the kidneys.
Cold and heat can inflict imbalance upon the lungs. Just like the air around us. When the air is neutral it is calm. When too much heat or cold build the air becomes turbulent and storms and wind can arise.
Since the lungs are so very delicate almost any kind of extreme can create distress and imbalance in them. Cold, heat, dry, damp and wind are some of the primary dangers to the lungs in any kind of excess. I just shake my head when I see people out running the roads when it is 34 degrees and lightly raining or when it is 90 degrees and desert dry in the middle of the day. Those are horrid conditions for exercising the lungs in!
Lung energy breathes in the external energy of life itself and then dictates the body move the energy in a downward motion to move used energy and waste out. Therefore the lungs are like the female energy in absorbing and then guiding the male energy to use the absorbed energy to work with.
Every organ has an external outlet. For the lungs it is our voice, nose and our skin. We can hear the health of the lungs in someone’s voice and see it in the quality and health of someone skin. Is the skin dry and brittle, damp and oily, filled with acne, pale and translucent, thick and tough? The health attributes can be seen in the skin of the person like reading a book. Just look at smokers. Their skin is drawn, gray, wrinkles quickly, thin and weak. Their voice tends to be raspy and dry sounding. Their lungs are so filled with toxic tar and chemical poisons that they cannot function properly. Their energy is poor and fragile because the lungs cannot take in clean air to distribute. They cannot take the refined energy from the spleen and they cannot rest comfortably in the kidney energy. Instead they sit and suffer in a chemical waste pit of congestion, stagnation and slow death as the fragile membranes within them are buried under decay. The organs, one by one, begin to suffer also since they do not receive the pure and refined energy from the lungs. They begin to lose energy and slowly the energy of each organ fades until the organ falters and becomes diseased.
Interestingly the lungs control the large intestines and the energy they send down helps the large intestine to move waste out of the body. If this relationship is in balance the hair will be of good quality because the hair is an outlet of the large intestine. However, if there is a unhealthy relationship between lung and large intestine the hair can suffer by drying up and shedding quickly from the scalp.
People exposed to smoke, secondhand smoke, toxic chemical fumes, ongoing extremes of dry heat or cold damp atmospheres and any other form of airborne pollution have lungs that are suffering and therefore an entire system network of stress and slow breakdown.
When the lungs become imbalanced they can stagnate and starting raising energy in the body instead of sinking it.
Some of the common lung imbalances are:
- Cold wind invasion
- Hot wind invasion
- Male energy deficiency
- Female energy deficiency
- Energy deficiency
- Dryness invasion
- Cold-Dampness invasion & congestion
- Hot-Dampness invasion & congestion
When the lungs become imbalanced and the energy rises instead of descends the overall energy of the body will falter. Beyond that many symptoms can arise, such as:
- Nasal discharge
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Excessive oily skin
- Lack of smell
- Weak voice
- Excessive saliva
- Restless heart- the lungs in-part control movement of blood
- Lack of grounding
- Swollen face
- Pains in chest and back
- Skin itches
- Erotic dreams
- Lack of sweating
- Spontaneous sweating
- Severe shifts in water metabolism and bladder function
- Grief and sadness
The negative emotions of the lungs are grief and sadness. Pessimism can be a common sign of lung imbalances. The positive emotions of the lungs when they are healthy are courage, release-letting go, being empty and open and righteousness.
Therefore too much grief and sadness in one’s life can bring about lung imbalance. Beyond what has been listed above, some other things that can harm the lungs are:
- Shallow breathing
- Too much fear
- Lack of exercise
- Excess of exercise
- For males (losing too much semen through ejaculation- especially in autumn and winter!) Preservation is key to health in the cold season
- Clogging of pores from unhealthy oils like petroleum products (the skin breathes like the lungs)
- Chest constrictions from tight and bound muscles and fascia
- Working out between 3-5am (3-5 am is the time the lungs contain the most energy and are in the process of repairing and preparing for the activities of the day ahead- this is the best time to heal them, not exhaust them)
Unlike the liver, the lungs best time for healing is the time in which it contains the most energy of a 24 hour period, between 3-5am every morning. The liver contains the most energy between 1-3am every night, but because the liver is doing a huge job of detoxification every night this is not a good time to work healing upon it. Rather the lowest energy period of the liver is much more suitable for working on healing it and that is when the small intestine contains the highest energy, between 1-3pm. However, since the 1-3pm is the small intestines time for healing the liver is best approached for healing in the latter time of the small intestine, between 2-3pm.
To be continued in- Lung Health Dynamics 2