As a Shiatsu student practitioner and Reiki Master Teacher, I work with energy (or Qi/Ki). I’m going to explain a little about how energy behaves in its “Earth” phase; its qualities and characteristics, which we see during the season of “Late Summer” or Harvest time, so that we can get to grips with how that affects us, and how we can make the most of the season, to support our energetic states as individuals, and boost our well-being.
Because energy is non-material, it can be hard to get to grips with in the abstract. The ways that energy works and behaves are much easier to grasp (and to explain) when we observe the ways they manifest, in the world around us.
Even if your personal energetic pattern isn’t in the Earth phase right now, the Earth Element is the predominant energetic influence in the world around us in Late Summer (in the Northern Hemisphere). So this Earth energy will be interacting with, and having some sort of effect on your own energy and well-being. Being aware of that fact can help you choose how to look after your own well-being, and allows you to interact more consciously with it.
Here’s a brief overview of where we are in Late Summer, in the cycle of the 5 Elements (or 5 phases of energy) from Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Late Summer’s Energetics, and its Context in the Cycle of the Year
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve reached that phase of the year where the growing, expansive energy of the first half of the year has peaked.
The pattern of growth, which we’ve been seeing reflected in the natural world, began in Springtime, with the Wood element’s persistent, flexible, ambitious upwards-directed energy. This trend of growth then continued into a full-on outwardly expansive phase during Summertime; reaching its absolute point of ultimate expansion for this year, during the Fire Element’s season, at the Summer Solstice.
So, now there’s no more outwards growth possible, we will soon begin the contractive phase of the second half of the year, when autumn/fall begins.
But just before that point, we’re in a liminal space; before the energy starts to properly move inwards, then down into the Earth again.
It’s time to pause, to harvest the first (literal or figurative) fruits of our labour, and celebrate together the success and results of the preparation and work we’ve put in.
This is the time to relax a little, take in the goodness of our early harvest, with food and drink, while enjoying the remnants of the Fire element’s influence, with socializing, traditionally dancing and singing.
There is more work to be done before the Harvest is completely finished. But for now, we need to take a break and enjoy the moment, while we can still connect with the last warm days and evenings of the year to lift our spirits, before the Fall arrives.
Aligning ourselves with the Elements and Seasons
We live in a world which is driven and empowered by incredible technology, such as AI (or at least true AI is on the nearing horizon) Virtual and Augmented Reality. The virtual and digital worlds are ever more integrated with the physical, material world. With the focus of our attention, as well as our social and work interactions, transactions and day to day activities often relying on screen time, it’s so easy to forget that we’re part of the natural, physical world, too.
Our Connection to Mother Earth through Nature
The same cycles and patterns that we see in the forests, mountains, fields, deserts and oceans, also manifest through us. We aren’t just surrounded by Qi and reliant upon the Earth for our survival—we are made of it! We are a part of the whole, and the essence of the Earth and Qi live within us!
The cells that make our body, come from the Earth we live on, and rely upon. We are part of this amazing, complex planet—a living organism which twirling and spinning, circles the Sun (whose energy is also part of us and the world we live on). How magical and beautiful!
Everything that we are can be understood as Yin (Earth, Matter, Water, Fertility) and Yang (Animation, Ideas, Heat, Drive, Growth, Direction). The Qi that we are and contain, has qualities of both of these interacting/swirling/complementary aspects. Yin grows to its peak and falls away to nothing, so that Yang can begin its growth, and the cycle begins again.
So when we can recognize how we are energetically, and also observe what’s happening energetically around us, in the outside world, we can align ourselves to interact in greater harmony: both with our own needs, and also with the flow of life all around us.
We can start to integrate and live a more centered, aware and connected life. We can stay nearer the centre of the dynamic flow of our health and well-being; shifting our approach, to be appropriate to the energetic patterns and influences in our lives and around us.
Simple Ways to Celebrate and Connect With the Season’s Earth Energy
1. Grow Your Own Food
You don’t need a garden or allotment, or to grow all your own fruit and vegetables, to do this (although if you do, that’s wonderful!). There’s usually space for a potted herb plant or two, no matter how bijou the dwelling! Or you might even be able to set up a window box to grow strawberries, salad leaves, and edible flowers.
Notice how your plants are doing. Talk to them or connect energetically (with Reiki, if you’re attuned) if that’s your thing. When you come to enjoy eating them or their fruits in a dish, or simply as they are, fresh from the plant, really focus on the flavor, the mouthfeel, the aroma!
Appreciate what it’s like to be eating this gift from mother nature right now, and connect with a sense of gratitude and/or that sense of being part of something much larger than you as an individual!
Which leads us very nicely on to…
2. Connect With The Pleasure of the Earth’s First Fruits
The Earth Element is the one associated with the “Late Summer” season, the beginning of which is just after the “Festival of the First Fruits” (Lammas). Earth also has an association with eating, and with the Stomach and Spleen (the metaphysical organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, rather than literal organs from Western Anatomy).
Stomach and Spleen process, transform and then absorb the nourishment of everything we take in. This might be (quite literally) food, but it could also be emotions, ideas we’ve learned, or experiences we’ve had.
The Spleen does not like multi-tasking, otherwise it can’t do its job properly. So when we eat, it’s a good idea to avoid multi-tasking, really engage with the experience of eating our food, mindfully and on all levels. That way, we’ll be absorbing and taking on all the nutrition from the experience—sensory as well as physical).
If we’re regularly distracted at mealtimes, or hurry to eat, we won’t gain as much nourishment from the food as we could, and our digestion may suffer. Over time, we might feel tired and sluggish, or show signs of Earth imbalance, such as over-worrying (see point 3, below).
So, it’s worth setting aside some time for at least one of your meals each day, so that you can properly engage with that meal. Slow right down, prepare the food with love—even if it’s a simple meal—and surrender to pure enjoyment of your food!
And if you choose to include some sweet-tasting, slow cooked food, such as this vegan slow cooker vegetable stew and dumplings, twice-baked Sweet Potatoes, long slow-cooked lentil stews, or even apple crumble with custard your Spleen will be even more grateful!
3. Don’t Worry—Be Happy
An Earth imbalance might manifest as “worrying” in the sense of not being able to let things go, or having repeated/obsessive thoughts. Try to notice if this happens. You might want to try connecting to your 5 senses, and allow your awareness to be totally engaged with what you’re experiencing, here and now. Or if worrying is a more serious problem for you, or you feel it’s gotten out of control, you could try the “Worry time list” technique to see whether that helps.
4. Allow the Earth’s Energy to Support You
The Earth Element is all about being centered and balanced. It is the axis around which movement happens (rather than having an energetic movement/directional pattern) itself. Take time to connect with stillness, and your inner strength which is always there.
You might consider doing some Inner Child/Adult work, if that resonates for you—or connect with someone who represents the positive qualities of Motherhood/the Maternal influence. Gender is irrelevant for this—it’s about connecting with feeling safe, known, protected, cared for, and cherished unconditionally.
If that person is no longer alive/on this plane of existence (depending on how you see it), doing something to remember them and connect with their essence as it lives on in you, can be really powerful. An hour or two with a photo album, preparing a dish that reminds you of them, for yourself, smelling a perfume or other fragrance that evokes their memory, can all be good ways to connect—or you may have your own special way to do this.
5. Ground / Earth Yourself
There’s never a bad time for some grounding, especially if you’re an Energy Worker! But being grounded is also particularly aligned with the Earth Element (or Earth Phase of energy). When we’re grounded, we’re well balanced, strong, fully embodied in the Yin, so that the Yang is fully supported.
Being grounded means giving and receiving in equal measure; and when we’re grounded, we’re at our most resilient and powerful. We’re seeing reality clearly, not trying to grab onto one thing or push another away. We are centered and free, connected with our authentic self, allowing life to flow around and within us.
Sound good? Here are a few ideas for ways you can ground yourself:
- Staying hydrated;
- Eating something sweet (fruit, a cookie, a piece of chocolate);
- Drinking a caffeinated hot drink;
- Massaging your feet;
- Taking a walk in nature;
- Breathwork and/or Meditation;
- Holding or touching a black colored crystal, like Obsidian, Black Tourmaline or Hematite (I used to have a piece of hematite in my coat pocket, which really helped ground and protect my energy & well-being, when I worked at an office with some rather overwhelming personalities);
- Taking a shower or splashing cold water on your face.
A Final Message from the Earth Element: Practice, Not Destination
Well-being is not a destination, a yes/no binary, or something we can own. I feel that it’s more of a practice—and like Yin and Yang, it’s not absolute. There are times when we’re in a better state of well-being, and times when we’re in a worse one, comparatively. That is fine—it’s like that for everyone.
Sometimes how we are feeling is more within our control, and other times it’s not. Whether or not we’re conscious of what the contributing factors are, accepting this fact is more important than viewing it as a problem to solve.
I think what I’m trying to say is that working towards a more holistic way of life is about starting from where you are, accepting and acknowledging where you are. Then we can make achievable, kind gestures towards what we need and what will help us, at that moment. It’s not easy, but it really helps if you can let go of the idea of perfection, and of the existence of a “right” or “wrong” way to live a more aligned and balanced life. It’s about understanding and choice.
Please don’t forget to breathe, connect with your centre, and show yourself compassion. Keep some of the beautiful acceptance, nurturing and care, for yourself If you do this, you will be connecting with the energy of this season, and doing yourself so much good.
There’s no right or wrong way to connect with the season—any season! What’s right for you will change from day to day, year to year. We’re all constantly changing, as individuals—reflecting the Qi that we’re made of, as the world around us does!
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Photo: Will Stewart via Unsplash; Marcus Winkler via Unsplash; Pablo Merchan-Montes via Unsplash; Frames for Your Heart via Unsplash; Annie Spratt via Unsplash