The year of the Yin Metal Ox (the Golden Ox) started on Feb 12, 2021. The autumn equinox is usually around the 21st of March each year in the southern hemisphere & around the 21st of September in the northern hemisphere. So, what do these events have in common?

In the Chinese medicine framework of understanding your health and your body the 5 phases (Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire) play a key role and have many correspondences within the physical body, the emotions, and the environment. From this perspective the Metal phase corresponds with autumn which is the turning point between the exuberant outward energy of summer and the quiet reflective energy of winter.

The autumn equinox is the balance point where the number of daylight and night-time hours are equal before the nights become longer as we head toward the winter solstice. If you watch the trees you will see them burst into a glory of yellows, golds, and reds as a last hoorah before they let go of the branches that held and nurtured them all summer. There is a season for everything in life and autumn is a great reminder that there are times when we need to let go of all that no longer serves us (breath it out) and trust that in the spring new opportunities and fresh energy will return (breath it in).

This year the Ox is called the Golden Ox as it resonates with the phase of metal and therefore with the season of autumn and all the beautiful golden leaves. This year could well be about finding the balance we need in life, a balance between the yin and yang of life, between working and enjoying life, between doing and resting, and between giving and receiving.

Another aspect of the five phases is how they all work together to nourish one another or keep each other in check. From this perspective, the Ox itself corresponds with the Earth phase (our digestion), however, because he is visiting us in 2021 his metal aspect will be more prominent which corresponds with our lungs and large intestines. Since the earth phase is seen to nourish the metal phase, this is a promising combination.

After the events of last year, I suspect that everyone was hoping for a better year this year. You will have to be patient. Remember that not only does the Ox moves slowly but surely towards his goal but as he is a metal ox he carries the slow energy of autumn. He is hard working, enduring, and constant and will help us plough the fields so we can sow the seeds, however, it is then up to us to nourish, water and tend to the fields and wait patiently for the crops to sprout remembering that each crop, each project, or idea, grows at its own pace before we can harvest it. This is the year to declutter our lives, both physically and emotionally, plant the seeds of our hopes and dreams and then nourish them and wait patiently for the crops to grow.

This year we must work on cultivating patience particularly as it is a Yin year. Yin is often described as the shadow side of the mountain and is a cooling, calming, moistening energy. So, we can see that since last year was a yang year (an active, energetic year) and this year is a yin year it will probably be a much calmer, quieter year. It is also turning out to be a rather wet year too with all the rainfall we have had of late.

As we are in a metal year and currently in autumn the primary focus will be on our lungs. Last year our Lungs took a bit of a beating with the dreaded virus, so this year offers a wonderful opportunity to restore and revitalise our lung energy. A few acupuncture treatments are a great way help you to do this.

I often tell my clients that there are only 2 places we can get energy – through the food we eat, and how well we digest it (earth) and through the air we breathe (metal). So, this year it will be particularly important to remember to regularly give yourself some long, slow, deep, belly breaths and to eat nourishing meals. Also, by taking some deep breaths before you sit down to eat you will find that you can digest your meals more easily.

The time of day that corresponds with the Lungs is between 3am and 5am so if you happen to be waking up regularly around 4am then there might be an issue going on that corresponds with your lungs at either a physical or emotional level. Physically you might need to work on your immunity, you might notice that your nose blocks up at this hour or this is when your start coughing. Emotionally the lungs are about sadness, disappointment, and grief so when we are dealing with these issues, we will often awaken in the early morning hours. 2020 certain stirred up a lot of things for many people and many of us are still dealing with the repercussions of the changes that the year brought about. Acupuncture can help support you through your journey of healing at all levels.

Have you ever wondered why you often see a link between asthma and eczema? In Chinese medicine the lungs rule the skin so when your lungs are not working well your skin will also suffer. Skin health is as much about inner health as outer health and in Chinese medicine we will often work both the metal and the earth phases to address skin complaints. It is also important to stay hydrated and make sure you are consuming plenty of omega-3 rich foods to help your skin stay healthy.

In Chinese medicine the earth phase (digestion) nourishes the metal phase (remember that metal is the large intestines as well as the lungs). Since we have an earth ox in a metal year it is especially important to nourish ourselves at all levels – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – by making positive lifestyle choices.

When we think of the earth, we naturally think about nourishment in so many ways, whether it is the crops that feed us or the forests that supply oxygen for us to breathe and homes for wildlife, the parks where we can exercise or our gardens where we can watch the flowers blossoming and think of the sweetness of life.

The best foods for our lungs are those that are pungent like onion, leeks, and spring onions or white foods like cauliflower, parsnips, white radish (daikon), pears and almonds.

To support your lung energy the best exercise you can do is one that gets your arms moving as that is where the Lung and Large Intestine meridians are located. Exercises like swimming, Qi gong or Tai chi are great and singing is also fun exercise for your diaphragm as it encourages deep breathing.

Think also of your other senses and how your might nourish them as well. Look at the images you surround yourself with, the things you listen to, the fabrics and cosmetics that go on and near your skin and see what you can change that will be more nourishing and inspiring for the sort of life you want to live. Focus on prevention this year with a healthy routine and if you need some help speak with your local practitioner of Chinese medicine.

All of this takes time, remember the ox moves slowly but surely as he helps us prepare for the abundant harvest to come.

Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Wholefood counselling). Tania is an AHPRA registered practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine located in Botany and Katoomba, NSW and is a lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.