Late Summer: Chinese Medicine’s Fifth Season
The traditional seasons are Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. However, here in Maine we also recognize Mud Season, several weeks of sloppiness that comes between Winter and Spring. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) being based on Five Element theory also recognizes 5 Seasons. We are just coming into that 5thseason now. Late Summer / Harvest or what we in the west would call “Indian” Summer, begins in late August and goes through September 22nd, the Autumn Equinox. Though it is a short season it is important as a time of subtle transition between the hot expansive Yang energies of Summer fire and the cooler contracting Yin energies of Fall and Winter.
The Late Summer season is associated with the Earth element, its direction is the Center, the color Yellow and the emotion of Worry. It is a time of nourishment and its associated organs are the Stomach and Spleen that handle digestion. In TCM the spleen equates to the Pancreas that creates digestive enzymes and regulates blood sugar through the production of glucagon and insulin. Not surprisingly the seasons related sensory organ is the Mouth and the flavor is Sweet. However, the mouth is not merely for eating, it is the vehicle for our voices and the Sound of this season is Singing or Chanting. The related condition is Dampness.
Eating for the Season
To stay healthy and balanced in Late Summer a little taste of sweetness will stimulate the Stomach and Spleen. However, too much may cause the digestive system to be overworked. Processed sugar can give you a buzz but the eventual crash can leave you feeling foggy and lethargic. A healthier choice would be honey or lightly sweet moist fruits such as watermelon, melon, cantaloupe, apples, cherries, peaches and plums. Vegetables considered lightly sweet and moist would include beets, corn, cucumbers and zucchini. As the weather cools you may find yourself drawn to soups and more warming foods such as fresh pumpkin and squash. A good choice to aid your digestive system would be fresh ginger.
Exercise The Spleen is also associated with the muscles so working them is healthy however be aware not to overdue it. Summer was likely quite active and you may need softer gentler exercise with frequent breaks allowing your muscles time to rest and recover. To get the most out of your exercise try working out when the Stomach and Spleen are at their energetic peaks 7-9a.m. and 9-11a.m. respectively.
Centering The Earth element is associated with the direction Center that is about grounding. Staying grounded or emotionally centered can help us reduce stress and worry. We humans are perfectly centered between the energies of Heaven and Earth. Centering is about finding balance in all things. The Yin and Yang, masculine and feminine, your inner and outer worlds, etc. One way to ground is to visualize sending roots out the yongquan or “Bubbling Well” points in the soles of your feet, deep into the Earth. Another simple way of grounding oneself is by “Earthing” or walking barefoot outdoors on the dirt or grass. Whichever of these techniques you choose you can release any dense energy, worry or stress through your feet and into the Earth.
Another trick for Centering yourself involves acupressure. The physical center of your body and your center of balance is located in the abdomen approximately 2 inches below your navel. The Japanese call this point the “hara” or center. In the world of Qigong this is known as the Lower Dantien (energy center), in yogic traditions it is referred to as the Sacral Chakra. TCM has named this acupressure point the “Sea of Qi” because it is thought to be where all of the Qi energy in the body collects. Pressing and holding this point can help relieve stomachache, abdominal cramping, constipation, gas, and digestive headaches.
Clearing the Meridians In TCM being healthy is about staying balanced by avoiding extremes. But it is also about having a unobstructed flow of Qi energy through your meridians. Try this Qigong sequence to clear the Stomach and Spleen meridians. It can help your digestion and energetically ground you.
Place your palms over your eyes. With your spine straight, take a deep breath. As you inhale visualize golden light filling your Stomach. As you exhale brush your palms down your face, along the sides of your neck, over your chest/pectorals, down the abdomen, and out to the hips. Bend over as you continue brushing down the front of the legs to the feet while intoning the “Hoooo” sound. This brushing moves the Qi clearing the Stomach meridian. As your hands reach your feet release any feelings of Worry into the Earth. Inhale, draw energy up from the Earth, pulling your palms up the inside of your legs, over the torso, returning to the eyes. This clears the Spleen meridian. Repeat the process head to toe and back up 3 – 5 times or as much as you feel intuitively guided to do so.
Late Summer Summary
Find your center, clear your meridians, walk barefoot on the Earth, sing or chant and eat sweet. Do these things and you will remain healthy in the Late Summer season.
Mark Gerardi is the founder of the Cornerstone Energy Healers certification program. A gifted teacher and powerful energy healer, Mark specializes in pain relief and distance healing. Over the last 25 years Mark has practiced and taught martial arts, meditation & qigong. His formal education in healing has included Shiatsu Acupressure, Herbalism, Kinetic Chain Release (KCR) and master certifications in multiple styles of Reiki. Mark has also been gifted with channeling the Archangel Michael healing system. To learn more about the many classes and services Mark offers find him on FaceBook or his website www.luminousandhealthy.com