Late Summer Fire and Earth
It’s the time of year when the heat of summer is beginning to cool. We are harvesting what we have grown and slowing down a bit as we prepare to begin a new school year or return to work after a holiday. The peak of Summer is behind us but it is not Autumn quite yet. It is Late Summer.
The theories of Chinese Medicine say we are moving from the expanded hot energy of Fire that characterises Summer to the stable nourishing energy of Earth which describes Late Summer. The same sorts of energies flow within our bodies and minds so to understand the Elements is to understand our Selves.
Fire within us lights us up, it sparks our passions and defines our desires. It is our truest truth, our deepest knowing, our heart of hearts. It is characterised by increased activity, it seeks connection and allows us to form relationships. It fuels our Joy and it wants to spread. It lives in our Hearts and we call it our Shen. A sparkle in the eye reveals a healthy Shen.
Earth energy grounds us, providing comfort and stability. It resides in our organs of digestion. We digest our food and experiences with our Earth energy. We take in food or experiences, absorb what nourishes us and send waste to be excreted both physically and emotionally. It is like the soil of a garden. It is neither the thing growing, nor does it grow. It allows and supports growth. Healthy Earth energy is expressed through a comfort within one’s body, a clarity of thought, generosity and stability of spirit and a steady flow of energy.
Both energies are vulnerable to imbalance. Fire can rage out of control creating headaches, anxiety, insomnia, hot itchy reactions like hives or infections like cystitis. Emotionally, it can lead one to be involved in restless or ceaseless activity, make too many commitments, be too trusting and open. Fire that is too low can leave one pale, cold, uninspired, listless, isolated, or depressed. Many mental health issues have a component of out of balance Fire. Physically diminished fire can lead to oedema, low libido and cold hands and feet.
Earth energy that is out of balance shows up in low energy, muddled thinking, chronic hay fever and allergies, headaches, extra weight, joint pain, difficult periods, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and other digestive issues. It contributes to an over active mind, mulling the same thoughts over and over again.
By understanding common discomforts and complaints through the lens of Chinese Medicine we’re able to understand how to correct imbalances. There is much we can do for ourselves to keep our energy flowing appropriately, which is how we maintain our health and wellbeing.
For too much Fire, eat cooling foods like cucumbers, watermelon, celery, green tea and dandelion greens. Warm foods like ginger, cinnamon, basil, rosemary, oats or spelt engender a low fire. Other ways to regulate your Fire is to nurture your relationships, make time for joyful play, and meditate.
To help Earth energy, develop a reliable pattern to your day. Eat, sleep, meditate or exercise at the same time everyday. Earth energy likes rhythm. Avoid raw food, eat warm (in temperature) foods. Slightly steam your vegetables, favour soups vs. smoothies and go moderate on dairy and sugar.
Observing the patterns in nature gives us insight to the rhythms within us. Chinese Medicine has developed theories and tools to help adjust our flow so that we experience robust health and strong sense of wellbeing naturally.