Late Summer: Period of Abundance
The Chinese have an extra season called Late Summer. This is the time between Summer and Autumn, when the weather begins to cool from Summer’s normally high heat. While thought to be the beginning of the energetic decline into autumn and winter, it is also seen as a time of abundance, with all the fruits (and vegetables) of the year’s crops filling the harvest.
Late Summer is the Season of the Earth Element
While the Summer is governed by the fire element, the Heart, and a climate associated with heat, the idea of Late Summer is governed by the earth element, the Spleen, and its climate is associated with dampness. Summer was the time to be in full motion and activity; Late Summer is the time to begin slowing down and preparing for the slower, darker months ahead.
The association with the Spleen (and its paired organ, the Stomach) points to this being the time to harmonize and balance these organs. When these organs are balanced, we get hungry and are satisfied with food, digestion moves smoothly (as do bowel movements), our muscles are nourished, and we have clear thinking. When out of balance, these organs will often lead to some sort of digestive problem: nausea, acid reflux, bloating or gas, or loose bowel movements. Along with digestive issues, Spleen issues may include bleeding disorders, prolapse issues, atrophy of the muscles, and water swelling issues. Mentally, the Spleen is in charge of our intellect or learning; when not balanced, we may experience dull thinking, poor memory and concentration, and may find ourselves stuck in obsessive thoughts or worry.
Harmonizing the Earth
As the Spleen and Stomach have control over digestion, the best way to keep them happy and harmonious is through our diet. Late summer is the time of abundance, with all the fruits of spring and summer’s labor ripening for harvest. Get out to those farmer’s markets and enjoy the seasonal fruits and vegetables that the Earth has provided. To help the body with digestion, light preparation the food (steaming, roasting, woking) helps the Stomach to do its job of processing what is ingested which in turn helps the Spleen separate the clean from the turbid.
It was previously mentioned this is time to begin to slow down; this does not mean hibernation yet! This is the season of Earth, so get out and enjoy! Go for some hikes or bike rides; get out and enjoy nature and the Earth and all the wonders it has to offer.
Enjoying nature is one way to help with balancing the emotions as well. The Spleen’s emotion is that of worry and rumination. Getting out to nature can help relieve the worries that may plague the mind. When you have thoughts constantly swirling around the mind, try to look at the issue from a different viewpoint to see if you can find a resolution.
How Acupuncture can help the Earth element
Do you find yourself having digestive issues: bloating, distention, acid reflux? Do you find yourself worrying often about things big or small. Do you find yourself with memory or concentration issues? Do these issues have other factors: brought on by stress, environmental factors, other body pains? If so, Chinese Medicine through the therapies of acupuncture, cupping, massage, gua sha, and herbs can help harmonize the body’s functional energy, called Qi, to help the Earth organs function more optimally. These therapies enhance the movement of Qi and blood in the body, improving the communication between the different systems, to bring balance to the body and the mind.