Despite the recent heatwave, the summer in LA has begun its departure. Those of us living in the City of Angels noticed a significant drop in temperatures last week, only to have the grueling heat return, leaving us irritated, exhausted, and running for the AC. As unlikely as it may feel, we are indeed inching our way to the Fall Equinox (September 21st) and it’s a good time to begin the important energetic and physical preparations for a smooth and healthy seasonal transition.
The movement into fall marks a subtle shift from the extroverted, busy, bright spring/summer to a more quiet, internal, contemplative energy that characterizes the fall/winter seasons. As we enter the fall, we take stock of the hard work we’ve put in during the bright seasons, and slow down to acknowledge and reap the benefits of our actions. As the light hours diminish, we find ourselves seeking the warmth and comfort of our homes and families once again to regroup, recalibrate, and replenish our body and spirit.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the 15 days surrounding each equinox and solstice (7 1/2 days before and after seasonal transitions), belong to the element of Earth - especially the transition into fall, which is called late summer. Earth is the pivot point between yin and yang, and around which the elements circulate. Graphically, if you were to look at the Chinese Five Element cycle, you would see Wood, Fire, Metal, and Water progressing in a circle with Earth in the center, connecting them all. Without Earth, there would be neither elements nor seasons, and there would be no life.
Within our bodies, the Earth Element represents the digestive organs and processes, and teaches us about the importance of nurturing ourselves and our dreams for the continuation of physical and creative life. Individuals with strong, balanced Earth in their constitutions have strong digestion, good stamina, and clear thinking, and are hard-working, practical, responsible, caring of themselves and others, energetic, organized, active, and stable. They are creative, have fertile imaginations, and work steadily to make their dreams reality.
If you’re experiencing poor digestion, loose stools, nausea, poor appetite, bloating, fatigue, blood sugar imbalances, or physical and mental stagnation, consider meditating on your Earth element. Other indications of a weak Earth include feeling “stuck”, living in disorder, hoarding, experiencing creative blockages, and having difficulties doing the work to transform ideas into reality.
Earth inspires us to do the daily labor of maintenance to keep our bodies healthy and the garden of our aspirations thriving. At every seasonal interchange, we get 15 magical days to take stock of our internal garden and do additional watering, weeding, pruning, and seeding to ensure successes in the seasons to come.
What fruit are you harvesting from your hard work this year? What aspects of your physical and creative life need watering, weeding, and/or pruning? What new seeds are you sowing for the following seasons?
To support your attunement to this upcoming seasonal shift into the fall, I offer you 5 tips to nourish your Earth element and cultivate balance and ease:
1. Choose grounding foods that harmonize the center. Foods that nourish Earth and support the digestive system are golden or yellow in color, mildly sweet and round in shape like organic, non-GMO corn, millet, carrots, cabbage, garbanzo beans, squash, potatoes, beans, yams, soy beans, tofu, sweet potatoes, sweet rice, rice, amaranth, peas, chestnuts, filberts, apricots and cantaloupe. Prepare foods simply with a minimum of seasonings and a mild taste, and eat moderately-sized portions.
2. Eat your meals mindfully. Take the time to sit with your food and be grateful for the nourishment it provides your physical, mental and spiritual bodies. Acknowledge all the work that’s gone into growing, transporting and preparing your food so that it’s set in front of you, ready to eat. Chew each mouthful thoroughly, putting the fork down between each bite to savor the flavors mingling in your mouth. Know that this meal and this moment support your life completely.
3. Consider a mild cleanse. Seasonal transitions offer an opportunity for release and renewal, and a short 3-day cleanse on or around the equinox can support us in getting centered for the new season ahead. A single-grain or kitcharee (mung beans and rice) cleanse is most appropriate for the fall/winter, whereas vegetable and fruit fasts are best for warmer spring/summer seasonal shifts.
4. Massage your instep. The arch of the foot, specifically the lower border of the metatarsal bone (very specifically, proximal and inferior to the head of the first metatarsalphalangeal joint in a depression at the junction of the dark and light skin), is the location of Spleen 3, the Earth point on the Earth meridian, and a source point of the digestive system. Massage this point during the seasonal transition from summer to fall, or at any point during the year to support digestive health, ease abdominal discomforts, and maintain balanced energy levels.
5. Try acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Acupuncture and herbal allies offer effective, nourishing support in all states of transition, including seasonal shifts. In relation to nourishing the Earth element, Chinese medicine excels at treating digestive disorders like weak digestion, abdominal pain, poor appetite, bloating, nausea, etc., and boosts the body when chronic fatigue and systemic weaknesses have set in. In addition, acupuncture and herbs have been clinically proven to increase immunity to prevent catching colds and flus, which are prevalent in the transition between the summer and fall. To schedule a treatment, contact me at email@example.com or call (323) 578-0703.
Wishing you a fruitful, centered seasonal transition,
Andrea Natalie Penagos
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
Five Spirits by Lorie Eve Dechar
Staying Healthy with the Seasons by Elson M. Haas, M.D.