Late Summer: The Season of The Earth Element, Nurturing and Transformation
Colour: Yellow, golden.
Sound: Singing. People with Earth as a dominant element will have a lyrical voice and often end their sentences on a lifting note. Out of balance, they will tend to have a syrupy voice.
Flavour: Sweet. People with Earth element out of balance often have a sweet, yeasty smell to them. In balance, their scent is softly fragrant, more like sweet flowers, yet not too strong.
Yin organ & time: Spleen: 9-11 am.
Yang organ & time: Stomach: 7-9 am.
Body tissue: Muscles and flesh.
Sense organ: Mouth, lips. Any disharmony or condition of the lips and mouth usually reflects a pathology of spleen and/or stomach.
Emotion: Worry and pensiveness.
Late summer is considered one of the five major seasons in the East. It begins around the third week of August and runs through September to the Autumn Equinox. This is when the intense brightness, heat and yang energy of summer yields and softens to the beginning of autumn, when the cooler yin energy starts to seep in. It is the buffer between each of the four main seasons. A time of balancing and stabilizing as we shift from one season to the next. This time of year is all about centring, grounding, self-nurturing, re-assessing, transformation and balance. A time to slow down and conserve energy for the winter season when outer growth ceases. It is a time to recognize and celebrate the fruits of our labours and to nourish our bodies, especially the digestive system.
Late summer is an ideal time for simplicity and quiet reflection. It’s a great opportunity to process your experiences so far this year. To see which ones served, what you learnt, and what to let go of.
Late summer is associated with the earth element and the digestive organs of the spleen, pancreas and stomach. The Earth’s energy is at its most dominant with nature’s fruits at their ripest and crops ready to harvest. The climate of late summer is associated with traditional Chinese medicines concepts of dampness and heat, which is reflected in the increase in humidity in our environment.
The organs of the Earth element are unique–the yin organ, the spleen, has more yang like functions than any other yin organ in the body (transformation and transportation. It likes to be warm, and is involved in qi and energy). The yang organ the stomach, has more yin functions than any other yang organ in the body (it processes food, likes to be moist and cooler).
The Spleen is the controller of the digestive function and of transformation and transportation of qi, fluids and blood. It controls the muscles, if healthy, the muscles and flesh will be firm and strong. If unhealthy, the person will feel weak. The state of the spleen is the most important factor in determining the amount of physical energy a person feels. The spleen lifts and holds – especially along the midsection of the body keeping the organs in their places. If the Spleen is weak there will be prolapse in the body. The Spleen loathes cold and dampness – too much raw, cold or damp forming foods chill the digestive fire and create heavy, thick and sticky body patterns like yeast, weight gain, oedema, rheumatic conditions, yeast, sinus infections, diabetes, ADD, ADHD, cysts and any pattern with lumps and growths.
The spleen is damaged by excessive thinking and over-analysis, sweet, greasy or cold, raw foods and iced drinks. Excess mucous is then produced resulting in congestion in sinus cavities.
Symptoms associated with imbalances in the Earth element include the following: Nausea and vomiting, IBS, weight gain, blood sugar disorders, low energy, blood deficiency and anaemia, lack of appetite, undigested food in stools, prolapsing of organs, aching muscles, chronic infections, allergies, patterns like MS, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, candida and yeast. When the Earth Element is in balance we are able to nourish ourselves and those around us in a supportive manner. We give and receive appropriately. When Earth is out of balance, we may become overly nourishing and smothering.
How to keep healthy and joyful at this time:
- Be conscious of the harvest of your life. Think about yourself, your relationships, and your work. What parts of your life are bearing fruit? Where is the harvest rich? Where do you find it stunted? What is overgrown or unneeded? What distracts? What might you wish to simplify in yourself, or in your life?
- Nourish yourself so you may give to others from a place of overflow rather than depletion. The goal of this season is to return to your central core to re-generate and continue to allow your life force or qi to flow. Schedule time for yourself.
- In this season with the abundance in nature nature, we also rejoice in giving. A word, a smile, a courtesy, a thoughtfulness – given today – is a great gift.
- On a mental and emotional level, the Earth element is in charge of ‘digesting’ your thoughts and cultivating your mind-set, and thus governs your learning, thinking and analysis. Create inner calm and harmony by being discerning about what you are digesting, not just physically but energetically too. Minimise fear-based media or information. Nourish yourself by reading, listening to, or watching positive and uplifting things every day.
- Stay in the present and be mindful about overthinking and worrying. Keep a gratitude journal to focus on the positives in your life now. And journal to work through anything repeating in your mind causing you stress.
- Take advantage of the last of the summer weather and spend as much time outdoors in nature, barefoot on the Earth to ground.
- Develop healthy boundaries, learn when to say no and don’t over-extend yourself. Become aware of any patterns of over-mothering anyone, this can be connected to an imbalance with the Earth element.
- Do gentle exercises such aswalking, qigong, tai chi, yin and restorative yoga, dance and swimming, rather than heavy strenuous exercise such as weights, since excessive muscle use also damages the spleen and stomach. Regular exercise keeps your qi and blood circulating, keeps reflection from becoming excessive (worry and obsession).
- Foods that support the Earth element are often mildly sweet, yellow or golden, and round shaped. Millet, corn, white and sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans, rice, ginger, fish with omega 3 fatty acids, and small amounts of beef are excellent seasonal choices. Limit excessive raw vegetables and fruits (especially citrus) and dairy products (except goat milk) at this time of year. Root vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, beetroot.
- In late-summer the weather can remain warm, but you should resist the temptation to have excessive amounts of cold drinks or raw food and salads, as the stomach actually prefers warmer foods, which will help ease the digestive process.
- The digestive organs love warmth so add spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves which all help tonourish the Earth element and tonify the spleen to remove the damp that may have accumulated.
- The Earth element is also associated with the taste of sweet. Eating or drinking slightly sweet foods, at an appropriate level, will nourish the Earth element and its associated organs. Too much, however, can overwhelm and damage the organ and meridian system and impact your energy levels. The Sweet flavour is the most abundant, yet most abused flavour in our society. There are ‘empty sweet’ foods that deplete, like refined sugar and carbohydrates. Some ‘full sweet’ foods are sweet potato, pumpkin, whole grains, roots, fruits, lentils and legumes. Sweet is abundant because it is the core food for the body. ‘Empty sweet’ foods damage the Spleen and pancreas by spiking the blood sugar and providing little nutrition. A ‘full sweet’ like lentils, roots and grains take far longer to breakdown, provide more nutrients, vitamins, minerals and are packed with fibre which helps stabilize blood sugar.
- As the process of digestion begins in the mouth, food should be chewed thoroughly and mixed with saliva, the bodily secretion of the Earth element.
- The period between 7 and 9 am is the time in which nature gives the stomach a measure of extra energy, so this is the optimum time to take in nourishment.