Late summer, a time when the breeze changes, yellow and brown begins to appear in the foliage, and we anticipate the fall to come. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this time of year pertains to the element of earth, a time of transition and bounty. Along with late summer, the earth element is also associated with the transition time between seasons.
The five elements of TCM each have a sound, smell, color, taste, emotion, organ systems, season, even food types are involved. The five elements of TCM are actually the result of acute observation of the world around us. Seasons are perhaps an easier aspect for us to observe. Do you feel a particular way when a cold breeze ruffles the leaves, and carries with it a fragrant aroma letting you know that fall is approaching? Perhaps the arrival of fall brings a certain taste in your mouth, or a craving for a particular food.
We often overlook these subtleties in the environment around us, as we try to accomplish the many tasks that fill our busy days. Whether we are aware of it or not, our environment is continuing to change, following its yearly cycles, and with that our days are impacted as well.
So what is late summer? What other aspects are involved with the earth element? Not surprisingly given the bounty provided to us by the earth, this element is involved with the digestive system, particularly with the transformation of food into nutrition for our cells and our entire being. With this comes the emotional space of feeling nourished, cared for, and reciprocating this to others.
Nourishment and care is a pivotal part of our well being, however in our achievement driven society, it is easy to forget the most important aspect of the earth element; to care for and nourish ourselves. What I have seen most often in the clinic and in myself, is the tendency to push ourselves towards goals in the hopes that accomplishing these tasks will provide us with the reward of recognition (a form of emotional nourishment) from the exterior, be it our boss, our peers, our family etc. It’s an unconscious cultural perception that we are more valuable the harder we work, and essentially the more we sacrifice self-care.
Late summer is a perfect time to check in with yourself, what is driving you? What are your motives? Is there room for giving yourself nourishment, care and recognition for just being who you are? For those of you that prefer a more practical approach, it’s a great time to prepare yourself a healthy home cooked meal using local, seasonal produce. If digestion is an area of concern for you, this is a great time of year to give that aspect of yourself extra care, and support your system in the important task transforming food into absorb-able nutrients and transporting those nutrients all over your body.
Other common symptoms that occur when the earth element is out of balance with the other four elements: fatigue, diarrhea, gas and bloating, muscle cramps/twitching, muscle waisting, food allergies, eating disorders, heart burn, acid reflux, acne, canker sores, excessive mucus in the lungs, excessive worrying or over thinking, etc.
Book an appointment in with any of our practitioners to give yourself some much deserved TLC. Remember to take care of yourself and the body that serves you, during this time of seasonal change.