The Five Elements & Reiki: Metal = Receiving & Waste Disposal

reiki five elements metal receiving waste disposal

I mentioned in my earlier post “An Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine” that I have created a Reiki healing system based on working with the “Five Elements” of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In a series of articles I have been talking about different aspects of the Five Elements and how they impinge on people’s lives: how imbalances in the five elements can show themselves as physical conditions and particular emotions and states of mind.

I have written about how the elements support and control each other through the nourishment and control cycles, I’ve spoken about the meridians and body organs that relate to each element, and in my recent articles I have been talking in a lot more detail about the emotions of the elements.

Now in some blog posts I am talking about particular states of mind that derive from each element and which relate to a particular body organ. Today we talk about…

The Mental states of Metal

Metal, the element of autumn, represents concentration, condensation, drawing in; Metal is concentrated energy, the opposite of Wood. Metal is represented by the Lungs and the Large Intestine, the ‘organs’ responsible for energy transfer on all levels; they receive and they release.

The Lungs

The Lungs receive chi from heaven and replenish us. The Lungs are the receivers of energy, taking it from the outside into ourselves. We receive on all levels, so we breathe emotionally and not just physically. In the Hindu tradition, the essence of breath is called prana which is of course analogous to the Chinese qi, and breath control is an important part of meditation techniques, where our breath is our connection to the universe. With each in-breath we take in energy from the universe, and with each out-breath we release toxic substances, creating space for new energy production.

If we follow thoughts of breathing a little further, we can imagine a couple of different sorts of people. In the first category are those who breathe in too much and breathe out too little. They strut around with inflated chests, they hold on tightly to what they have, and they cannot let go and relax. In the second category are those who breathe out more than they breathe in. Their chests are collapsed and they are continually lacking in energy. They constantly look needy.

The Large Intestine

The Large Intestine is rather like the dustbin man and its function is to store and dispose of waste. It can also be seen as the generator of evolution and change. If there is an imbalance in this organ then the rest of the system is put under strain, waste begins to accumulate and the other organs are put under more pressure. Symptoms such as feeling bloated, swelling, constipation, emotional ‘stopping up’, bad acne and boils, headache and stuffy nose, can all point to a Large Intestine imbalance. These descriptions are on a physical level, but the Large Intestine is seen as working on all levels of the body-mind-spirit. If a person is unable to let go then they will be constipated and stagnate on all levels, so the Large Intestine is just as important as the Lungs in terms of our ‘connection to heaven’ (heaven is a synonym for our mental and spiritual world). We can only grasp fresh ideas and think new thoughts if we can let go of mental waste and obsolete mind patterns. So on the mental level, the Large Intestine represents clarity of thought and the power of discernment, the striving for intellectual quality.


Since Metal represents our energetic connection with the universe, a Metal imbalance can show in a person as an inadequate bond to one’s environment. Imagine a person who is lonely and withdrawn, who seems hard, cold and isolated from their surroundings. They show little feeling. These people have a Metal imbalance.

Sometimes the imbalance can show in people who have high ideals, striving for something that they can never achieve. Some may follow religion in a fixed and dogmatic way. They are intent on getting to heaven, know how to purify themselves, and want to convert others to their beliefs. However, and this is an important point, they are unable to let themselves go sufficiently to receive the spiritual quality of the essence of Metal. Too shallow breathing and too little excretion increase the desire for inner and outer purification, and we can think of cleanliness and hygiene fanatics, and highly dogmatic followers of a religion, as compensating for this Metal disturbance through their behaviour. Metal’s striving for intellectual quality can turn into a rigid outlook, intolerant Puritanism, religious fanaticism, a type of spirituality that is lacking in enthusiasm or warmth, or spontaneity. These characteristics are typical of many religions, unfortunately.

The essence of Metal is not easy to deal with. Metal is concentration, letting go, grief, going within, leaving the world. At the same time Metal is our connection to the environment, to our vitality, to heaven. Often we need to go deeper within to perceive a deeper connection that is not visible in our daily lives. Only when we let go can a space be created in which the old can die and the new can be born, completing the circle. By letting go of our outer form our essence can be revealed.


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Picture credit: woodleywonderworks




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