The Fifth “Season”
Late Summer & The Seasonal Interchanges
Did you know that there is actually a fifth season that occurs five times during the year? Late Summer, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, is a short season occurring approximately the last month of Summer which is the middle of the lunar year. This is truly a midpoint when the transition from yang to yin occurs. The active, expansive growth of Spring and Summer (Yang energy) is in the process of shifting to the cooler, more inward and mysterious Yin energies of Fall and Winter. This pleasant, tranquil and flourishing season brings a sense of time standing still, the moment at which the pendulum reverses its swing. The middle way is now occurring between two polar opposites. Unity and harmony seem effortless. You may notice that it is easier during this season to feel your own sense of quiet, balanced inner stillness.
When describing the Fifth Season, the Nei Jing/ Inner Classic medical text ~ 2,500 B.C. has this to say:
The Earth Element, represented by the Spleen/Pancreas, regulates the “center”, that which is constant, from where it harmonizes the effects of the four seasons.
Keep this information handy, for the fifth season’s Earth Element also has a strong influence over the 15 days surrounding each of the two solstices and equinoxes (7-1/2 days before and after). These are energetically neutral buffers between the seasons. During these days we experience a pivotal pause in the light patterns of the sun, the center of our solar system.
These periods offer us a valuable opportunity to discover how to make our lives more simple and harmonious.
Now is the time to allow rigid or discordant mental/physical conditions to be transformed through centering practices that take one beyond external conditions. This can be as simple as sitting quietly while breathing into the abdomen, your physical center, and feeling that peaceful place inside of you that is always present, patiently awaiting your attention.
The healing of digestive disorders is accelerated under the Earth Element’s influence. Acupuncture, customized herbal remedies and of course dietary adjustments will go a long way to promote energy and well-being at any time of the year, but especially now!
Earthly Delights: Fifth Season Foods
To attune with the Earth element Season, it is wise to include some foods for each meal that are harmonizing and represent the center. These include mildly sweet foods, yellow or golden foods, round foods, and/or foods known in Traditional Chinese medicine to “harmonize the middle jiao” (digestive center). These include millet, corn, carrots, cabbage, garbanzo beans, soybeans, squash, potatoes, string beans, yams, tofu, sweet potatoes, sweet rice, amaranth, peas, chestnuts, filberts, apricots, and cantaloupe.
Foods should be prepared simply with a minimum of seasoning. Avoid extremes or complicated dishes with multiple ingredients. Allow moderation to guide you in all aspects of food preparation, including cooking time. Spring and Summer allow for quick, light cooking and Winter and Fall allow for long, slow cooking. But this is the season of the middle way, so adjust your cooking time accordingly. Use water and cooking oils moderately. These practices may be used at any time to help sustain and balance middle-path experiences to promote harmony and health.
Many cultures use seasonal interchanges as traditional times to purify and cleanse their internal and external environments. A three-day, single-grain fast during the Fall and Winter interchanges, and a vegetable or fruit fast on the cusps of Spring and Summer, help to bring one to the “center” during seasonal transitions. If you wish to fast, plan it during days when demands from the outside world are minimal.
The Earth element represents yin, the receptive, nurturing qualities of life. In our modern culture, rampant hypoglycemia, cancer, constipation, and many other afflictions directly relate to our lack of focus on nurturing and simply being. We are so often obsessed with always doing. These maladies will begin to be transformed into health with a general respect for the Earth, the food it offers, and for the human body’s own ecosystem by learning to cultivate the yin. Please be respectful of the bounties of the Earth. Consume only what is needed. In this way we minimize the toxins and soil depletion involved in industrial agriculture.
Support your local organic growers! We are so fortunate to live in an area that provides us so generously. As we respect our own bodies, we are naturally prompted to stop the consumption of denatured, refined foods. Compassion, also a middle-path experience, limits the eating of meat only to that which is medicinally necessary. To effect a total and unified change, our own blood “streams” and internal landscapes must be properly cleaned and tended.
Healing the Earth and healing ourselves are one and the same!!!
Coming soon … The Alchemy of Autumn!
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