Between our inhales and exhales, between feeling and response, between the end of summer and the beginning of fall, we are often met with an urge to speed up or slow down. Times of transition are catalysts for change where our physical and mental energy fluctuates to match the shift in sounds and smells that surround us. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are five seasons instead of four, where “late summer,” spanning the end of August through the autumnal equinox, is recognized as its own distinct chapter.
In TCM each season is tied to an element. Late summer is represented by the Earth element which is personified by nurturing qualities of groundedness, routine, and communal gatherings. Late summer is the season to settle the self before transitioning towards more introspection come fall. We can do this physically by eating seasonal foods like squash and yams and by paying attention to what does and does not support our digestive systems. And, we can also do this energetically by surrounding ourselves with the people who make us feel seen and loved by hosting and organizing gatherings and being present when we do socialize.
- Standing Tree Meditation – Stand barefoot (preferably outdoors), with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Close your eyes and begin to visualize roots sprouting from the soles of your feet, weaving their way into the grown below. As your awareness travels from your feet to your hips, envision your legs as strong and stable as the trunk of a tree. Invite gentle movement into your arms, picturing them as branches extending and swaying in the wind. Allow yourself to embody the qualities of a tree for a few cycles of breath.
- Mindful Eating – In addition to an element, each season in TCM has a corresponding sense organ. Late summer is linked to taste, making it an ideal time to revisit the foods you eat and the way you eat them. Do your best to avoid multitasking while dining, replacing the distraction of scrolling with a newfound curiosity for each flavor and texture that hits your tongue.
- Seasonal Foods – If you’re lucky enough to live near a farmer’s market, now is the time to take advantage! Think yellow, brown, and orange foods like butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, or ginger root and carve out time for slow-cooked meals like hearty stews.
- Light Movement – To stimulate digestion, engage in light movement like an evening walk, a living room dance party, or Yin yoga. Belly rubs are also helpful and nurturing for connecting to our center and can be used as support throughout the day.
- Timed Journaling – We love the practice of lighting the BEL and putting our stream of consciousness to paper until the first pin drops. It’s like Marie Kondo’ing your brain as you create a designated outlet for the thoughts swimming in your mind.