An important aspect of the Metal element is our capacity for healthy, heart-centered negativity. While New Age culture promotes the idea that relentless positivity is the key to health and happiness, relentless anything leads to imbalance. Negativity is realistic and healthy at times. What matters is whether we are able to be negative with heart.
In East Asian medicine, the Colon function supports our capacity to make clear healthy value statements as to what supports well-being, and what emphatically does not. There is nothing healthy about suppressing the wisdom of our Colon! We need to be able to recognize the crap in our lives as crappy before we can compost it.
A healthy Colon is able to say, “This sucks” without toxicity. Can you do that? Give it a try right now. Stand tall, with your shoulders back and your breathing full and open. Think of something that, from the heart, you recognize as unhealthy or destructive. With heart, with simple life-love and acknowledgement, say, “I feel terrible about this.”
Can you say that without hate, without toxic heat, without the twist of rancor or bitterness, but also without sugar coating or false optimism? If so, that’s a healthy Colon. Sometimes it serves life not to look on the bright side—sometimes it is medicinal to look directly at trouble and harm, or even tragedy and disaster, and just acknowledge it directly, with heart.
For instance, when someone is grieving a tremendous loss, it’s important to be able to say with heart, “This is awful. I’m so sorry this happened,” and not immediately try to find something positive to say about it. On the contrary, it is possible and healthy to mourn with heart, and to be strengthened in our values by the clear recognition of what is painful to us. It’s healthy to be able to acknowledge directly when something has happened that we consider dreadful, harmful, or wrong.
Negativity has heart when it is a simple and clean statement of values, not toxic and inflamed. Heartful negativity is a direct and unadorned recognition of what is not in service to the heart—because clearly acknowledging what is not in service of the heart is, itself, in service of the heart.
It is not healthy or heartful to increase the toxicity of any situation with blame and hate; but it is also not healthy or heartful to dodge the reality of the weight of our grief when faced with very painful circumstances.
Let us support each other in the health of our Metal element this autumn, by speaking as freely and matter-of-factly about misfortune as of blessings. An open heart is able to transform our sorrows so that they, too, become blessings, but that takes time.
A shit pile, well-tended, becomes compost for the garden—in time. It’s ok to acknowledge a shit pile for what it is right now—with heart.
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