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!

Summer: The Fire Element

Summer: The Fire Element
Harmonize with the yang season of summer, by embracing the yang principle – upward expansion, growth, lightness, outward activity, brightness, and creativity. Act as if you enjoy the heat – even if you do not. During this phase of intense growth, awaken early in the morning and reach to the life giving power of the sun for nourishment. Everything grows in the heat. This is the time to allow the body to release open- letting go of stress and tension. Grow into selfless service. Enjoy the bounty of the outside world as it enters and enlivens us. The Fire element, rules the heart and small intestine. The heart includes the organ as well as the concept of the heart as a mental/emotional center. The word for heart, xin is often translated as heart-mind. Correspondingly, the Fire phase is the time of the tongue/speech, blood vessels, joy, laughing, sweat. Imbalances of excess of impatience, intolerance, cruelty, judgement, hatred, shame, guilt can be transformed into peace, love, compassion, acceptance with our conscious attention to our patterns and practices. Cultivating a healthy heart-mind will allow that which is the best in us to fully develop and to flourish.
The heart in harmony expresses in people as being genuinely friendly, humble, with open hearts and aware minds, a sense of clarity, and the ability to effortlessly see through problems and arrive at brilliant solutions.

Food and its preparation
Along with our practice, eating what is in season is always a very good way to comply with the chi of the time. Use plenty of brightly colored summer fruits and vegetables, enjoy creating beautiful meals. Cook lightly and add a little fiery flavor regularly. Favor sautéing, use hight heat for a brief time, steam or simmer foods as quickly as possible. Use more water, less salt. Replace minerals and oils lost to sweat. Avoid iced drinks, excessive amounts of cold and raw food, and ice cream as they contract the stomach and stop digestion. Eat cooling foods: watermelon is particularly good as is green tea (not too strong). Other cooling foods are: bean sprouts, Chinese leaf, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, green leafy vegetables, tomato, cucumber, asparagus, seaweed, mint, fish and shell-fish.

What you can do
Practice Tai Chi, Qigong and Neigong particularly to open the heart, keeping shoulders and chest moving, and lengthening the connective tissue/joints.
Spend time outdoors enjoying the sun, allowing (not pushing) heart and mind to open to growth and personal expansion. Taking care to experience the heat and sun in moderation so as to preserve wei chi, your protective qi.
Not yet familiar with the practices? Please join us for classes and workshops. Or, book me for your own Tao Healing workshop or retreat www.heatherchalon.com/calendar.

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.