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.”
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 – the state of relaxed alertness, of perfect balance between rest and activity. In this state, we know our true desires and what we want to do to achieve them. Some, we finish harvesting now, at the close of summer; others, we sow seeds for, in preparation for the aspirations that will blossom later. In the Fall, both aspects are equally present and poised in balance for our consideration. In nature, this is clearly observed at the Equinox, when day and night are of equal length.
The autumnal change of seasons is most indicative of the Earth Phase because it is the time of the great harvest. Mother Earth gives us food, shelter and clothing and is the support we stand on. So, you may already have correctly presumed 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.
On the emotional level, it includes nurturance – the balance between nurturing and being nurtured. If you are person who gives more than you take, or who takes more than you give, you are probably out of balance or not in harmony with your personal Earth energy. You may be able to remedy this simply by trying to remember what it is meant to be is: “the one who tends the fields reaps the harvest.”
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. If they have given loved ones in need a lot of time, attention and energy, they have people to turn to who will lovingly replenish it with caring support.
Just as the Earth Phase expresses itself physically by the digestive process, it is expressed mentally by digesting information and by a certain keenness of mind – the 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.”
Recommendations for the Earth Season – 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 aimed at maintaining a harmonious balance of body, mind and spirit. Asian bodywork (shiatsu, tuina, etc.) is considered one of the most beneficial treatments for health maintenance.