Just as there are some times of year we like the most, the same can be said for the elements. We feel at home in different seasons depending on our own temperament and many other factors. As someone predominantly with their birth chart in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn, it doesn't surprise me, then that late summer and the earth element feels a lot more comfortable to me than other more yang times of year.
In TCM summer is split into two seasons, summer and late summer, the latter happening from August until early September, after the highest and warmest peak of the summer months.
Earth is the ground upon which we stand, the source of our food and nourishment and the place we call home. We are born of this element and to this element we will return. She is our mother, supporting life and sensuality, our foundation and container.
In terms of TCM the stomach and spleen are associated with the Earth element and providing us with post natal Qi or energy that sustains us after birth.
The spleen's role is producing our body's qi and blood by extracting pure nutritious substances from ingested food and substances and transporting this nutritive energy (“ying qi”) to other parts of our body. When spleen qi is out of balance we may feel weak, lethargic and dull because the body isn't receiving sufficient usable energy. Sleeping, breathing and thinking rhythms may be off as a result. When spleen chi is in harmony we feel earthy and sensual, at home in ourselves, grounded.
Emotionally spleen chi is connected to the element of earth and our sense of being home within ourselves and grounded. It also relates to our ability to take in nourishment on all levels. Mentally spleen chi is associated with clear thinking, a capacity to make connections and an ability to have clear insights and follow through with our decisions.
As always during the transition between seasons there is a greater chance our body's natural rhythms can become imbalanced, and for the earth element this means too much dampness in the body, which leads to sickness as we transition into the even cooler months.
Here are some ways to practice seasonal self care tips during late summer.
To support your body:
~ Eat warmer foods - begin to slowly phase out the colder, raw diet you may have favoured during the warmer months, as these kind of foods encourage a dampness in the spleen which interferes with it's ability to create and transport qi and blood. Start replacing smoothies and salads with warm cooked meals and aromatic spices like ginger and cardamom - any excuse to start warming up a lovely pot of chai!
~ Indulge your sweet tooth - in moderation, of course! Dig into the plentiful harvest of root veggies that are available this time of year like yams, sweet potatoes and carrots. Whole grains like millet and rice also help strengthen the earth element, as do yellow foods (the colour associated with the earth element is yellow) like corn, yams & squash.
~ Eat like royalty at breakfast - the saying eat like a king (queen) at breakfast has some truth to it, through a TCM lens. If we look at the meridian clock the stomach meridian is most active from 7-9am, making this the perfect time to eat a substantial meal. Eating something warm helps avoid excess dampness in the system.
To support your mind:
~ Take time to rest and digest - not only on a physical level but mentally, too. Be discerning about your 'diet' - the various aspects of your environment that you take in, from what you watch, the media you consume to who you spend your time/converse with, share ideas etc. Allowing time to simply digest all of the information and external stimuli you've taken in is very useful - yin yoga is a great way to do this, if you find more traditional sitting meditations challenging.
~ Find your anchor - the earth element is all about feeling grounded and centered, so make sure you prioritize activities that encourage this for you. Whether it's a non negotiable daily 10 minute walk in the morning (walking barefoot on the earth is even better), a leisurely cup of herbal tea mid afternoon or a check in with your partner at the end of the day, find some anchors to steady you as life rushes ever onwards.
To support your spirit:
~ Make the most of the lingering sunshine - seize any opportunities to enjoy some final rays of sunshine and top up on your vitamin D. Yellow is the colour associated with the earth element - channel your inner sunshine by wearing more yellow or add more yellow foods to your plate!
~ Sing! Each element has a sound associated with it, the seed sound or Bija mantra for earth is 'LAM'. Repeat this 'seed sound' so it resonates through the correlating chakra centre (in this case muladhara, the root chakra) and purifies the nadis or energetic channels that link all elements of ourselves (physical , mental, emotional) to our higher being.
~ Do things that bring you delight - much like finding your anchor, this is very necessary but often overlooked. The earth element relates to our ability to both give and receive support - are you able to ask for support and take what you need to fill your cup so that you can pour from your overflow and not deplete your life force? Make time and space for things that light you up, however small.
Yoga poses to help balance the Earth element
Some Yin poses that stimulate the stomach and spleen meridians include:
~ Sleeping Swan
Some Yang poses that help to balance the earth element include lots of sitting and standing poses thinking about our foundation and connection to the earth:
~Dancing warrior sequence
~ Tadasana, mountain pose
If you'd like to come tune into your earth element energy then join me for an online Yin class soon, we'll be exploring the above Yin poses and more as we come back to grounding into the safety and containment of our physical body.
How do you find this time of year, is Earth an element you feel at home in? Did you find the above tips useful? Let me know in the comments. Wishing you all a wonderful late summer as we enjoy those last sunny days.