INDIAN SUMMER, and the Tranisition between all Seasons: Earth

As we pay attention to the natural rhythms of life, we easily attune and find harmony. Now it is time to turn our awareness to Late Summer / Indian Summer – the Earth Element. This is the interchange of all seasons, the Center. It is the point of transition from yang to yin, between the expansive growth phases of spring and summer, and the inward, cooler, more mysterious fall and winter seasons. This is a pleasant, tranquil, and flourishing season. One may feel as if time stops and activity becomes effortless, dreamlike. Unity, harmony, and the middle way are summoned between the extremes. The interchange between periods (the two equinoxes and two solstices are also buffers between seasons, governed by the Earth Element), represents pivotal pauses in the light patterns we experience from the sun, the center of our solar system.

To attune with late summer, listen and pay attention, to its subtle current. Find the rhythms and cycles that make life simple and harmonious, centered and balanced. Yellow and orange are the colors of the season. Chaotic, rigid, discordant conditions, whether mental or physical, can be transformed through centering practices such as qigong and tai chi.

Foods: Choose foods for each meal that are harmonizing and represent the center – mildly sweet foods, yellow or golden foods, round foods. Select foods known to harmonize the center – millet, corn, carrots, cabbage, garbanzo beans, soybeans, squash, potatoes, string beans, yams, fresh tofu, sweet potatoes, sweet rice, rice, amaranth, peas, chestnuts, filberts, apricots, cantaloupe. Prepare foods simply. Practice moderation as a guide – preparation, cooking time, temperature, methods, use of oils and water.

You may choose this time of interchange to practice a purification – a mild cleansing. Naturally, these practices may be followed at any time of year to support balanced and harmonious experiences.

The Earth Element’s related organs, the spleen-pancreas and stomach, are primarily responsible for digestion and distribution of food and nutrients /life experiences and how they nourish us. The qi energy and other essencesextracted from digestion are used by the body to create wei qi (say ‘way chee’) or immunity, vitality, warmth, and formation of the body’s tissue and mental functions.

In balance, we are able to nurture ourselves and others; feel strong, active, and stable. We have good appetite and digestion, endurance. We feel organized and orderly; attentive; creative with a flourishing sense of imagination.

What you can do: Nurture – yourself, others; allow yourself to be nurtured…spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Play six healing sounds qigong, standing practices to ground and send deep roots into the earth.

Enjoy Indian Summer. May life be rich, vibrant, harmonious, peaceful, easy, and creative!

SPRING Is In The Air – The Wood Element

A time of new beginnings; birth. We notice the plants pushing upwards, awakening and refreshed after their winter hibernation. The sun rises earlier and we naturally awaken earlier. There is an energy of activity and fresh new life all around us – the energy of spring. This season correlates with the wood element ; the color green; liver/gall bladder; eyes; tendons; balanced natural state of passion, kindness, ease (imbalanced state being excessive anger, dissatisfaction, frustration, shouting).

We see green all around us – this tender new life nourishes our soul through our eyes. There is less desire to eat, as the body naturally cleanses itself in spring. Cleansing is not only residue from heavy winter foods, but of excess desire and pent up emotions of dissatisfaction, impatience, anger, and accompanying short sightedness. This season may bring clearer vision; new ways of seeing things. We are encouraging quickness, more rapid movement, more outward activity. Think of a deer leaping and bounding (such movement is governed by the quality of the tendons). A vital liver supports a calm, smooth, soothing way of being – body and mind; decisiveness; sound judgment; leadership capability; ability to bring one’s passion – ideas, creativity, projects out into the world.

Wood element and FOOD and food preparation:

This is the season to clean the liver and gall bladder. Simple food preparation, including raw and sprouted foods may be emphasized. A little bit of such foods can bring in the qualities of cleansing without too much cooling and/or overworking digestion in those who are in a delicate or re-cooperative state.

Select foods reflecting the yang, ascending and expansive energy of spring. These include young plants, fresh greens, sprouts (including wheat and other cereal grasses). Minimize intake of salty and heavy foods, particularly animal products.

Create your own inner spring by selecting sweet and pungent foods such as honey/mint tea, pungent herbs – basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf; complex carbohydrates which are primarily ‘sweet’ flavor (increased by sprouting) – grains, legumes, seeds; young beets, carrots, and other sweet starchy vegetables; raw onions and garlic (to rid the body of parasites).

Include raw food as appropriate. When cooking foods, cook at higher temperatures, with shorter cooking time than winter preparation. If oil is to be used, quickly sauté. When cooking with water steam lightly or briefly simmer foods.

What you can do:

Play Six Healing Sounds Qigong – emphasizing balance and harmony of the whole self, with special attention on the “shhhh” of liver.

Give more focus to playing Qigong practices for the eyes. Play t’ai chi with special attention on the tendons; your ability to feel springy like a deer. If you haven’t done the qigong practices in a class, ask me for details.

Though it is getting warmer outside, keep your neck warm (eg. Wear a scarf), and protect yourself from wind, especially after playing qigong/t’ai chi.

Enjoy getting out in nature; stop and ‘smell the roses’.

Explore your creativity and the projects you have been dreaming about; let them out into the world –the world is waiting for you to authentically, fully express yourself.

AUTUMN: Metal Element Way of Tao

Fall is the season of harvest, a time to pull inward and gather together on all levels, a time to store up fuel, food, and warm clothing, a time to study and plan for the approaching stillness of winter. Everything in nature contracts and moves its essence inward and downward.Easing Into Autumn Leaves and fruit fall, seeds dry, the sap of trees goes into the roots. This is the time of the Metal element, the lungs, skin, nose, color white, pungent flavor, balanced emotions of joy, harmony, courage. Imbalances such as grief, sadness, and despair can be transformed with our conscious attention to our patterns and practices.

Foods: We become aware of the season’s abundant yet contracting nature. Choose more astringent foods (e.g. spinach and radish) with heartier flavors. Cooking methods involve focused preparation to supply greater energy required by cooler seasons. The essence of food is received through the sense of smell, with baked or sauteed dishes – concentrated foods to thicken the blood for winter. In general, cook with less water, lower heat, for longer periods of time. Include more sour (a little goes a long way) foods such as sourdough bread, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, leeks, aduki beans, salt plums, rose hip tea, vinegar, cheese, yogurt, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and the sour varieties of apples, plums, and grapes. To counter dryness, add a small amount of fresh soy products, spinach, barley, millet, pear, persimmon, loquat, seaweeds, almond, sesame seed, honey, eggs, and a little salt in cooking moistens dryness.

Connecting with the Earth. As we root our feet and open to receiving the earth’s nourishing energies, be mindful that the ground is becoming cooler now. Shoes should be warn when standing on cool ground. This includes indoors. Enjoy bare feet when the day is warm and the earth has been warmed by the sun.

What you can do:
Pressing back palms qigong; qi self massage – tapping the thymus gland, SSSSS healing sound, playing the Tiger movement.

Access your inner courage, integrity, happiness - Tiger frolic with healing sound

Access your inner courage, integrity, happiness – Tiger frolic with healing sound; qi self massage lung tops/cross forearms over heart.

Don’t know these practices yet?

Please join us at qigong and /or tai chi class.