By: Gurnett Signh
“The only constant in life is change.” Heraclitus
One of the many things I love about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the strong belief in change and adaptation. TCM holds that everything in nature is in flux and evolving yet still maintains balance. It is easy to observe these changes in the natural world around us, but this is not only something that is occurring outside in the environment. We are a part of nature and influenced by its changes. We are also constantly in a state of change.
TCM teaches us to adjust along with the seasonal changes as it is believed that the body, mind, and spirit are affected by the season and our environment since we are connected and not separate from nature. By aligning with the natural cycles of the seasons, we are given the opportunity to nourish and support ourselves to stay healthy and in balance. In short, TCM promotes practicing seasonal living.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the calendar year is divided into five seasons rather than the typical four (Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer) that we think of. This fifth season is Late Summer, the short time from the end of August until the Autumn Equinox. Although the days are still long, and we can continue to gather from the abundance of growth in our gardens, a noticeable shift can be felt in the subtle softening of the intensity of the sun as well as a crispness in the night air. This current season of harvest is when we return to the middle or center, from the expansive and fullness of the Summer (which is ruled by yang energy) toward the inward and storing energy of the Autumn (which is ruled more by yin energy). According to TCM, this is a time to accept the abundance of Summer and allow that to nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits, offering stability as we prepare for the surrendering and letting go that will happen in the Autumn season.
According to TCM, each season has specific associations that can help direct our habits to encourage a more balanced life. Each of the five elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) corresponds to a season. In late Summer, the Earth element is the most active, as well as the most vulnerable. The Earth element is all about nourishing and cultivating that will help us thrive. The other associations unique to the Late Summer season include:
YIN ORGAN: Spleen
YANG ORGAN: Stomach
SPIRIT: Yi or Intellect
SENSE ORGANS: Mouth
VIRTUES: Empathy and Nurturing
To support a healthy Earth element and the Late Summer season, it is particularly important for nourishing the digestive system and optimizing the immune system. According to TCM, the Spleen and Stomach are related to digestion. The Spleen transforms food into nutritive qi/energy and transports this qi to the body. The Spleen also contributes to blood production and helps keep the blood in the vessels. Our thoughts and mental capacity are related directly to the spirit of the Spleen or Yi (intellect), which influences our ability to concentrate and memorize. This is a wonderful time for grounding, quieting our minds, reflecting, and “digesting” our experiences by recognizing what activities/experiences/company is nourishing for us, which we can learn from, and which we can prepare to let go of.
Some potential health issues that might be more likely to manifest during this time of year include digestive weakness, such as IBS, fatigue, and muscle weakness. Due to the connection with the mind and thinking, the spirit of the Spleen is prone to worry, overthinking, and anxiety.
By attuning to the Late Summer season and aligning with the natural rhythms of the world around us, we can learn how best to support our body, mind, and spirit. It allows us to cultivate optimal health and vitality within as well as experience a more fulfilling time as we transition from Late Summer to Autumn.
To learn more about Acupuncture and how it can help support you move more harmoniously through these seasonal changes, please get in touch with Gurneet Singh, LAc, ND, at (267) 356-4949 or Gurneet@MettaAcupuncture.com.