Much of my time in acupuncture school was spent outdoors. The natural environment was a great teacher for learning about Qi. We were outside to experience and embody the energetic of each of the five seasons. To this day, eight years after graduation, I don’t look to a calendar for guidance regarding seasonal changes. I observe the subtleties from one season to another. I also notice how I’m experiencing each one. Some I embrace and some, not so much. Speaking of which…

This time of year, Late Summer, is a season that isn’t differentiated as its own season in much of the modern or Western world. But to be sure, the summer of June is different than the August version.

Returning to the idea that our seasons have a “felt” experience — what I mean is that each season feels, smells and looks different.

Right now, the daylight has an intense glow, the smells hang in particularly heavy and damp air. Ancient cultures have generally revered and looked to the natural environment to help assess their own rhythmic order (their health) within their surroundings. One measure of health within the Chinese Medicine (CM) toolbox is to assess how you transition between the five seasons. Late Summer, as well as the pivot between all seasons, belongs to the Earth element. The Earth is the center (of attention) and we are in the midst, and in the height of her glory on this side of the world.

Because CM practitioners use the seasons as a barometer of health, you too can use the powers of observation to stay in balance in, or in between, any season.

The Earth energy is solid, reciprocal, grounded, nurturing, centered, and integrates the ability to digest and assimilate food or information easily.

Feeling stuck in perpetual worry, overthinking and feeling particularly needy?

This is classic out-of-balance Earth. Other symptoms that you are out-of-balance in the Earth element are if you’re having digestive problems, diarrhea, bloating, sweet cravings, cloudy thinking, a lack of clarity, fatigue — many symptoms that are seen in patterns like MS, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Also, weight gain, prolapsing of organs, aching muscles, nausea, vomiting, chronic infections, allergies, chronic fatigue pattern, GERD, ulcers and heartburn,and the sensation of fullness are generally disease patterns of the Spleen/Pancreas and the Stomach.

And, the first place I look when I have any of these symptoms (in addition to practicing Qi Gong or seeing my CM practitioner) is assessing my diet. Maybe I’m having too much gelato or yogurt.

Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

The Spleen prefers dry so loathes cold and dampness and creates heavy, thick and sticky body patterns like yeast, weight gain and edema when there is too much cold or damp. I suggest eating warmer foods and spices to keep the digestive fires burning. It’s similar for the Stomach, the caldron for all the food you take in. Foods that are warmer in nature as well as in temperature will be best.

There are many more suggestions to keep you balanced this time of year. With all the traumatic events of the world right now, it’s so challenging to stay grounded.

Do what you know to do that truly feeds you.

And, if healing with food interests you, there’s a great book I recommend – Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford. Easy to read and great explanations for the layperson on the energetics of food and how different foods can support or detract from your health and well-being. The book also has plenty of recipes for you to try.

Wishing you a safe and happy remainder of the summer!