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2014 Late Summer



By Nina Brugel


Boom!  As I sit to write this letter we are in the midst of yet another summer thunderstorm.  The lightning and thunder are dramatic reminders of the power of nature.  

Acupuncture is nature-based medicine.  We are beings of nature and as such, we feel at ease whenever we are in sync with nature.  The ancient Chinese healers saw five distinct seasons occur every year.  They are -- Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer and Late Summer.  

Each of the seasons corresponds to an element. Those five elements are found in each of us. The Five Elements and correspondent seasons are Fall/Metal, Winter/Water, Spring/Wood, Summer/Fire and Late Summer/Earth.  We all have all five elements in our make-up and we each have one element that is our “home-base” element, also known as your Constitutional Factor (CF).  When treated with acupuncture on that particular element’s meridians, this will provide the fastest path to healing and the deepest treatment. 

During Late Summer, the days are getting shorter.  We are transitioning from the most yang season, Summer, to the beginnings of a more yin time of year as we move into Late Summer.  This is the time of harvest.  We bring in the crops, savor the mature yields of food and survey all that has been accomplished during the Summer season.  We can savor all that nature has to offer in the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at this time of year.  A trip to the local farmers’ market shows tables overflowing with ripe, juicy peaches, fresh corn, bright orange carrots, red, ripe tomatoes.  Yum! 

In our life cycle, the Earth “season” is that time of middle age.  For many of us, our children are older and we can savor all that we have done to get to this point of their development.  The Earth time of the life cycle is a time when we may develop our place in our larger community, outside of our families.

As we move into Late Summer, we shift our focus to the Earth element.  The gifts of the Earth element are being centered, grounded, thoughtful, kind and sympathetic of others.  It is that part of us that is nurturing of others and of ourselves, too.  In nurturing our children, our parents, our partners, our pets, and our plants, we are practicing using our Earth element.   Folks who live in the Earth element as their constitutional way of being, may be naturally sympathetic.  Just having that sympathetic ear to listen to our woes is often enough to lighten our load. 

When out of balance, the emotion of the Earth element is worry.  Like the Earth spins on its axis, so can thoughts spin without end in a worrisome, ruminating way.  Acupuncture can help to bring balance back and the effect can be a calming of worries and rumination.  The Earth folks can also spin out of balance in a way that can show up as over-tending or “smothering” those that they want to “mother.”  This can feel overwhelming to the recipient of such an overabundance of nurturing. 

Earth in excess may show up as an excessive giving out of one’s energy.  The balancing element for Earth is the Wood.  In nature, trees, ground cover and grasses, all serve to keep boundaries around earth so that it doesn’t expand too far.  In people, the directive, goal-oriented qualities of Wood serve to set boundaries to keep Earth CF’s from extending themselves too far for their own good.  

Another way we can nurture and express our Earth element is to take time to ensure that our own needs are being met.  We can do this through treating ourselves to some quiet time, a luxurious bath, or even to just take the time to savor our food. 

The Stomach and Spleen organs and, in a broader sense, the organ systems of both, correspond to the Earth element.  These two organs take in Qi, in the forms of food and drink, then rotten and ripen it.  Then they transform these substances into energy that is distributed to the entire body. 

So savor each bite of food that you take in.  Enjoy the cooler nights of Late Summer.  Set and keep appropriate boundaries so that you aren’t overextending yourself.  Nurture yourself and tend to your own needs as well as those of others.  Live into the Earth element and thrive!




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