We are ultimately not in control

Autumn is the season of the lungs, the organ in Chinese Medicine associated with grief, sadness and letting go. Like the autumn leaves that fall naturally, the progression of our lives involve things, people and ideas that naturally pass on as we enter new and different stages of our lives. This continual cycle of birth and death is what life is, inspiration and expiration.

The ability to witness and experience the cycles of our lives with ease, without attachment or aversion, involves a deep yet simple understanding of the nature of our existence: we are not in control. Like breathing, we can temporarily control our breath, but ultimately we are not in control of our breathing. Something is breathing us even as we sleep. Inspiration, from the Latin word “Inspiratio,” refers to God breathing into us, putting breath, life and spirit into the human body. Expiration, refers to breathing out until the last breath, letting go. Breathing, like life, just happens. The more we can let this be, inspiration and expiration, the more we can move through life with ease.

When I say ease, I don’t mean to be happy go lucky and trouble free. I don’t mean we stop mourning and hurting and missing and longing. I mean we let our emotions and expressions be what they be. We resist running from it or holding on to it. We let life be life fully without acting on our compulsion to control it. The intention is not to let go of our humanness, but to let go of our desire for control, our resistance, our decorum, our hubris. In letting go, we are able to feel fully alive.

I had a patient last week. As I placed the needles in, her tears began flowing relentlessly. While she was trying to maintain some level of composure she was also just letting the tears come. Seeing this, I could feel that she was experiencing deep healing. After the treatment I checked in on her and asked how she was doing. She said, “I miss my mommy.” Her mother had passed away many years earlier. “You know,” she added, “It’s not even that I’m sad. I just miss my mommy. It’s kindda like if I feel like having orange juice. It’s just a feeling that comes and goes. Well right now I miss my mommy. That’s all.” I was taken by the profound simplicity and acceptance with which she grieved. 

In Chinese Medicine, feelings are natural and require the appropriate expression. If you have experienced grief, you know that it has its way with you. There is no clear path, no progression, no prediction, no beginning and no end. Allowing grief its full expression when it visits allows for the natural cycle of inspiration and expiration to unfold and connects us to the larger mystery of life that we are all a part of.

In Health & Community,