In Asian Medicine, the Earth Phase is also called Indian Summer or late summer, but it’s meaning is the time between seasons. We commonly call it “the change of seasons.” It is simultaneously the end of one phase and the start of another.
In late summer, the rhythm is still kind of lazy, though a vague and gentle stirring begins. We remember something we have been procrastinating about, or something we have been planning to do but have not yet gotten to. We feel like getting started on it. We may think about getting back to yoga or taking a new class. These thoughts are not pressing at this stage, but rather dreamy and pleasant in nature. In this state, we know our true desires and what we want to do to achieve them. Some, we harvest now, at the close of summer. Others, we sow seeds for, in preparation for the aspirations that will blossom later in the Fall: for instance, registering for September classes. 😁 Here are two to consider for September that are very timely for this uncertain period in our lives:
Essence of the Indian Summer – Earth Phase
The Earth is the support we stand on. Quite literally, it is the ground beneath our feet. Mother Earth gives us food, shelter and clothing. Indian Summer is the season most indicative of the Earth Phase because it is the time of two harvests: now we are harvesting the fruits; later we will harvest the grains. So, it’s not too difficult to figure out that the Earth Phase is all about nourishment. It is associated with the stomach and “digestive juices” (acids, enzymes, and the like). Its main functions are digestion and nourishment.
Even on the emotional level, it includes nurturance – the balance between nurturing and being nurtured. If a person gives more than they take, or takes more than they give, they are probably out of balance or not in harmony with their personal Earth energy. They may be able to come to better understanding of the essential qualities of the Earth Phase simply by contemplating this saying: “the one who tends the fields reaps the harvest.”
Are You The Earth Phase Type?
When balanced, Earth-type people have the capacity to exhibit great compassion. They can have empathy and sympathy without over-identifying or giving away more energy than they have. They have good relationships with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. They have the desire and vitality to give time, attention and energy when those they care about are in need. They take the time to restore themselves by turning to the people and activities that replenish them. They give and receive love, care, support and the pleasure of fulfillment in their lives.
When out of balance, an Earth-type person can be “needy” and never feel satisfied or loved enough, no matter how much attention they get. Or, they may go in the other direction of giving too much attention to their loved ones, smothering them with love and worrying about them all the time.
Earth Phase Mentality
Just as the Earth Phase expresses itself physically by the digestive process, it is expressed mentally by digesting information. An Earth-type person possesses a certain keenness of mind – an ability to think clearly, to concentrate or study, and generally process information. Consider everyday expressions like “food for thought,” “a lot of information to digest,” or “let me chew it over for a while.” An example of a good time for students to seek Shiatsu treatment is exam time because shiatsu helps increase mental capacity, improve concentration, relax the mind and ease anxiety.
Out of balance, this type of person can become overly reliant upon facts. In the extreme, this can lead to a state of mind that is unable to feel compassion, sympathy or empathy for anyone whose feelings or concerns don’t fall into the realm of the person’s knowledge base.
Recommendations for Indian Summer, the Earth Phase
Earth is all about nurturance, including the balance between nurturing and being nurtured. We nurture our families, our friends and ourselves by the food we eat and the thoughts we think. What about getting nurtured? Asian medicine recognizes that the transition between seasons is known to be a time of delicate balance for health. Customary recommendations for the season are to eat well, rest deeply during sleep, and receive a shiatsu or acupuncture treatment at the change of seasons to maintain a harmonious balance of body, mind and spirit. Asian bodywork (shiatsu, tuina, etc.) is considered one of the most beneficial treatments for health maintenance.
The common wisdom of Asian medicine recommends getting a Shiatsu treatment at least four times a year at the change of seasons. Especially this year, as we are still without a treatment for COVID-19, if you are not infected, you may want to consider the immune boosting benefits of a shiatsu treatment.