LATE SUMMER: THE “EXTRA-ORDINARY” SEASON of the EARTH ELEMENT
The Earth Element manifests, for the most part, as the golden brown harvest time known as Late Summer. It is the extraordinary 5th season of the Shiatsu / TCM yearly cycle. It is a strange sort of a “season” of transition: a time of stillness, abundance, equilibrium and anticipation of imminent change.
Although Earth finds its greatest expression in this final, hot, damp stage of Summer it also emerges at other times of the year when significant change is about to occur:
- The equinoxes, when the earth is perfectly balanced with respect to the sun, and
- The solstices – when the sun stands still with respect to the earth
- Earth is also evident at the turn of each season.
EARTH ENERGY and SPIRIT
The energy of Late Summer flows calmly towards the center. It flows towards the center of the Earth, via gravitation. It concentrates in our individual centers of gravity, our lower abdomen or hara. All this while also supporting a great sense of fullness, balance and generosity.
From our perspective, this center-driven energy also derives from the Earth. Materially speaking, it is what we take in via the mouth by way of nourishment. The Earth meridians, Stomach (Yang) & Spleen (Yin) are very involved with food, absorption, nourishment, nurturing, desire and our sense of abundance.
Beyond the purely material, the Spleen meridian in particular governs our ability to accept/give – nourishment of all sorts. This might be information or love for instance. It governs our desires and our sense of “being looked after” in the world.
Amongst other things, the Stomach governs both our need for habits &/or fixtures as well as our metabolic rhythms and cycles. Digestive, sleep and reproductive are just a few such cycles. Regularity of these rhythms is key to our individual stability and capacity to thrive.
A well balanced Earth element delivers security and stability:
physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.
It is this stability that supports us in times of change.
LATE SUMMER RESOURCES … your body, your energy & your quick links
Follow the links and help yourself as we transition
from Fire to Metal via EARTH
YOUR EARTH BODY
Get in touch with your Earth Element
Late Summer is peak season for discovering your embodied Earth Element. I suggest you start with Masunaga’s Makko Ho for the Earth Element. This simple Zen energy exercise is designed to connect with your two Late Summer meridians as you release and tonify their energy:
- THIS POST will give you a general idea about the Makko Ho and how best to approach them;
- THIS POST is specific to the Late Summer meridians, Spleen and Stomach, and the corresponding Makko Ho exercise.
Check out the Video of this exercise on INSTAGRAM
The MAKKO HO: Video Series 2, Part 2
Spleen/Stomach, May 26, 2020
Other Late Summer body work
This meridian yoga pose, a variation on the Bridge Pose, is commonly referred to as “THE TOE POINTER” . It is very effective for building strength up the Spleen channel: from the big toe, through the inside leg to the lower abdomen. It also opens the channel through the chest. At the same time, it extends a large section of the Stomach channel that runs down the whole front body.
Going further with Spleen / Earth yoga this variation on supta baddha konasana works the channel in legs, arms and torso. It obliges you to very consciously center your energy in your lower abdomen.
In the same post, you’ll find the CAMEL POSE, Ustrasana. This is another beautifully balanced pose that opens the full length of the Stomach channel. The sense of flow when you complete the circle with your hands on the soles of the feet is truly remarkable. Coming back out of the pose, and into Pose of the Child, allows you to really feel the centering movement of energy.
Looking for something more demanding?
Some of you, who find both Camel and Bridge poses relatively easy, might like to go further with opening the Stomach channel. I suggest another demanding – but rewarding – pose …
the WHEEL POSE (AKA Upward Bow), Urdhva Dhanurasana. If your Bridge is strong by all means use it as your entry point. For those of you who feel a bit uncomfortable with the “upside-down” thing you might want to approach the Wheel using a wall and moving downwards – incrementally – into the pose.
THIS POST, from the excellent YOGA JOURNAL gives a very thorough description of how to work your way into a beautiful Upward Bow.
A LATE SUMMER CHALLENGE:
Once you’re comfortable in your Wheel you could try walking around in the pose. You may find this a major challenge to your – Stomach meridian-based – habitual way of doing things!!
YOGA JOURNAL also offers a terrific breakdown of how to approach and learn to love the BOAT POSE, Paripurna Navasana. By contrast with the flow-inducing opening of the Camel and the Wheel, this pose requires you to strongly center your Stomach energy – drawing it in toward the lower abdomen.
LATE SUMMER ENERGY … A MORE DIRECT APPROACH
Nurture and self-nurture are big themes within the Earth Element. Would like to show yourself some “targeted” love through this Late Summer season? Treat yourself via the Spleen 6 acupoint.
The “weather” of Earth is Damp. Low Spleen energy encourages Dampness in the system. This, in turn may well lead to:
- digestive, reproductive and (systemic) fungal issues;
- a sensation of heaviness, weakness and fatigue, particularly in the limbs, and swelling (oedema) in the legs;
- urinary disorders, dizziness, insomnia and anxiety.
Nourishing Spleen 6 will lift the Spleen meridian energy overall and help resolve dampness – and the ensuing issues – throughout the body.
Just a little bit of regular attention to this important point will also help harmonize the Liver, strengthen the Kidneys and calm the Spirit.
On a more mundane level, it is also a useful local point for discomfort in the knee, lower leg or ankle.
Learn how to treat yourself via SPLEEN 6
NOTE: Treatment of Spleen 6 is contraindicated during pregnancy.
LATE SUMMER FOOD … the sweet stuff
The taste of Earth is sweet. I’m talking about foods that are NATURALLY SWEET, particularly those that are yellow, gold, orange or brown and beautifully round (or, at least, well rounded).
This is the season of the ripe – if not slightly over-ripe – golden plum. If no plums are to hand, try some nectarines, chickpeas, millet, sweet corn, quinoa, yellow squash. Perhaps pumpkin – the star player of Thanksgiving, North America’s harvest time festival.
Here are three great recipes for Late Summer eating:
- Superior Pumpkin & Adzuki Bean Casserole – a fantastic energetic pick-me-up for the Spleen meridian
- Fruit, rocket & walnut salad – bitter/sweet, extra sweet if your marinade the fruit first
- Quinoa Salad – easy, quick and perfect for a Late Summer lunch or dinner.