The Metal Element and body lifestyle
A patient of mine, a metal constitutional type, also known as a metal CF (constitutional factor), asked me: “In the scheme of five element theory, what can I do at home to optimize the effectiveness of treatment? What type of workouts would be good for me as a metal type? Should I change my diet at all? In general, how should I relate to my body?”
In order to answer these questions and to explain what can be considered metal type workouts, we have to start by remembering that each element has two organs that are represented by it (except fire which has four). Depending on which organ is primarily affected, the characteristic elemental imbalance might be expressed in very different and often opposite ways. Put simply, two people, both being metal types might experience symptoms of imbalances very differently.
The Metal Organs
The two organs that represent the functions of the metal element are the Lungs and the Large Intestines. Both organs share the metal element’s primary function of letting go of what we don’t need; physically, emotionally and mentally. These two organs also share the basic tendency towards purity, precision, quality, perfectionism, and spirituality. If the Lungs are primarily affected, the key word would be “empty”; and for the large intestine Constitutional Factor the description would be “overfull”. A Lung CF will often be lacking self-confidence and self-esteem, and have abundant self-criticism; while the large intestine CF will have strong tendencies towards rigidity, being judgmental of others, and being dictatorial.
On the topic of lifestyle changes and improvements, it’s important to mention that anything that one does for his or her self-development whether it be to improve one’s health, wellbeing, career or spirituality a person should ideally use his or her strong points (skills, talents, motivations, etc). This is not to say that an individual should not challenge or strengthen their weak points, quite the contrary, challenging one’s weak points in order to strengthen them is an integral part of any type of healthy growth. However, without utilizing the strengths that an individual has, the ability to sustain significant changes generally only happens when there are strengths involved to power the ship.
This is especially true in any type of holistic healing. As an example, for both metal types, we are looking to use the metal element’s predilection for precision, as his strong point, while introducing more flexibility would be a challenge to his or her weakness of having rigid tendencies and/or a lack of self-esteem.
To put things even more clearly, in holistic healing both a persons strong points and areas of weakness should be utilized in facilitating balance and healing.
What workouts are recommended for the Metal Element?
For both metal types, yoga is ideal. The precision needed to hold yoga postures properly, and the way in which the postures challenge metals habitual rigidities and imbalances (as well as its spiritual connotations) making yoga tailor-made for the metal CF.
There are many types of yoga and different teaching styles that one could choose from to fit variations of the metal personality. A teacher that emphasizes flexibility (through maximum stretching), flow, and relaxation, would be better for Large Intestine CF. A Lung CF might do better with a style that has more emphasis on stamina and endurance (how long a posture is held) and even with some elements of aerobics added in. However, just about any class will help achieve more balance, flexibility, self-confidence, confidence, and comfort within oneself and one’s body. Other possible workouts include Pilates, dance, and aerobics.
What style workout should a metal type choose?
The style depends on what is needed for balance for the particular individual. Lung CF’s could benefit from some more standard types of sports and workouts to increase self-esteem and self-confidence but only in moderation and only if they enjoy it. Colon CF’s that tend more towards rigidity should stay away from these activities. However, if they insist, I would encourage them to make it fun and add in more movements that encourage lightness and flexibility for balance, reminding them that too much emphasis on sports (such as weight lifting) could hinder them from the most rapid progress in their treatment.
In general how else should metal types relate to their bodies?
At best, most people relate to their bodies as a machine to accomplish their desired goals. At worst, as a total stranger. Neither of these approaches recognize that the body has its own needs and is an integral part of our essential selves. Both approaches inevitably lead to pain, dysfunction and disease. Part of the goal of most forms of alternative medicine is to teach people to treat the body as an intimate friend and listen more closely to what it is trying to tell us. Metal CF’s , because of their propensity towards perfectionism, their appreciation of quality and their need for spirituality should go even farther and treat their bodies as a temple.
What food should metal types eat?
Everything that is eaten should be eaten with reverence. The food should be of the highest quality. This of course may mean different things to different people; but junk food and eating on the run are definitely out.
Eating unconsciously goes more against the intrinsic nature of the Metal CF than any of the other CFs. However, there should be room for special treats on occasions , so as not to amplify the Metal CF’s tendency towards rigidity. The sense organ related to Metal is smell. Therefore, nice fragrances are greatly appreciated. However, there is no need for anything heavy; the fresh air of a morning walk or on a mountain trail will do. Of course anything that facilitates good breathing is of paramount importance to the Lung CF. Early morning is the best time for the Metal CF. According to the Chinese clock, Lung energy is at its peak between 3 AM and 5 AM. The peak time for the Colon is between 5 AM and 7 AM. So early morning is a great time to do exercise and to go to the toilet!
If you’re a metal type and you want to treat your body right and help it serve you as the essential part of you that it is. The key word is ‘quality’. Your body knows what you’re feeding it and how you’re treating it. Be careful of making ‘quality’ another form of rigidity, because Rigidity is metal’s worst enemy. Whether it’s coming from hard core weight lifting or dietary fanaticism, flexibility and being forgiving is key.
Disclaimer: Five element practitioners do not diagnose constitutional factors based on personality characteristics. True five element diagnoses are based on subtle changes and variations of color, sound, odor and emotion that are usually discernible only to trained practitioners.