In Chinese Traditional Medicine, and specifically Five Element theory, the Lung and Large Intestine are associated with the Metal element, and an imbalance in these may manifest itself in lung conditions such as asthma, skin problems like eczema, or digestive problems in the large intestine. Five Element theory is not confined to physical symptoms though. Every aspect of life is embraced. The Metal element is about grief, cleaning out, letting go, boundaries. Its colour is white, its taste hot and spicy. The sound of Metal is weeping or sighing, its odour is rotten, its emotion grief and mourning of what has been lost, in preparation for releasing and moving on.

Acupuncture, shiatsu, qi gong and other healing and martial arts work specifically on energy lines and points in the body that are associated with the five elements. Below is a simple but powerful technique associated with the Metal element to help you let go and clear out on all levels – emotionally as well as physically. Practising this exercise every day may result in profound changes. For example, you may experience a “letting go” in the form of a satisfying bowel movement if you have a tendency to feel constipated. Or release may come in the form of a good cry. You may feel a release of stress and tension. These are all signs of energy shifting at the physical and emotional levels, so don’t resist them. Go with the flow and embrace them.

Three important things before you start

The three most important things to remember when doing this exercise are:

  1. Do every movement on the out breath
  2. Allow your arms to be completely relaxed. Don’t try to hold them in place, but find a perfect point of balance where they are staying in place (almost) by themselves with minimal engagement of your muscles.
  3. When you flop your arms down, really flop! Don’t lower them using your muscles, just engage your muscles to start the flop and then let gravity do the rest.

Let’s go!

  • Lie down face up with your arms relaxed by your sides, on your bed or on a comfortable mat on the floor. Make sure the room temperature is comfortable and not too cool.
  • Now take a deep breath in and as you breathe out, raise your lower arms until they are at right angles to the bed/floor. Your elbows and upper arms will still be on the bed/floor.
  • Stay in this position until you are ready to breathe in again. It should not take any effort to keep your arms here if they are nicely balanced.
  • When you’re ready to breathe in, do so, and on the out breath give your arms a gentle nudge and let them flop by your side again.
  • Don’t breathe in until you need to, but don’t hold your breath unnaturally.
  • When you’re ready to breathe in again, repeat the process.

It’s that simple!

There are more parts to add to this exercise, but for now, keep it simple and practise this every day when you have a good chunk of time when you’re not going to be disturbed. If you practise for half an hour before falling asleep, you may find that you have a more restful night and feel more refreshed in the morning.