By Natalie Kilheeney, M.S., B.S., L.Ac
Most people know that we typically have four seasons throughout each year: spring, summer, fall, and winter. But, did you know that in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there is a very important fifth season that occurs around the last month of summer called “Late Summer Season?” This unrecognized season is very brief, normally only lasting about a month or so and transitions us away from the extreme heat of summer into the calmer, cooler, and declining season of fall. Late summer correlates with the Earth element or the central part of everything. According to the Chinese, in order to maintain good health, it is essential to harmonize oneself with the seasons.
Based on this is idea, it becomes especially important to “center” ourselves (mind, body, and spirit) during this time. So what does that actually mean and how can we do this? Well, here are a few tips! In the physical body, the “center” is associated with our spleen and stomach organ systems. These systems are in charge of the transformation, transportation and rottening and ripening of food and drink in our body. Pay attention to your diet and how your digestion is doing! Are you experiencing such symptoms as low energy, loose stools, constipation, bloating, or gassiness? If so, small changes in the diet can help restore balance in your body.
TCM also looks at the five flavors which are tied to each season. They include: bland, sweet, spicy, salty, and bitter. The Flavor of the late summer season is sweet, so incorporate foods that are slightly sweet such as squash, sweet potatoes, millet, sweet rice, carrots, cabbage, string beans, peas, apricots, and cantaloupe but avoid overly sweet, or refined sugars like in desserts, soda pop, fruit juices, processed foods, breads, and pasta. These can actually impair digestion and cause harmful congestion in the body.
Nourish your mind by getting into a new routine, enjoying a new book, engaging in a new project, or finishing one that has been put off to the side. Now is the time to take that Yoga class that you’ve been waiting to try or get back into. Meditation and Breathing deeply into your diaphragm also connects to the “center” of your body restoring your body’s health. Either way try not to stress too much or over do it. Have fun and enjoy this beautiful late summer season!
Blog by Natalie Kilheeney, MATCM, L.Ac, DOM