03 Oct 2021
The Fifth Season
In the Chinese five element theory, each season is represented by an element.
That fifth season - late summer - isn't part of the solar calendar, it's not actually a season that stands on its own. The Late summer is an atmospherical occurrence that spans over the tail end of summer into autumn. You have to keep in mind the part of the world these regular, natural occurrences were observed, the fifth season had a greater effect on their surroundings. Meteorologically the summer heat is still coming through but there is more moisture in the air, creating an atmosphere that is muggy and humid.
Plants, flowers and trees are displaying their last brilliance, the last push of that Yang energy before the cycle moves into autumn.
The earth element is about nurturing, acceptance, healthy appetite, digestion but most importantly transformation and transportation. Having that ability to convert food and fluids then help it through your system. Earth is also connected to the psychological part of us, being able to take in information, enjoying pleasures in life without excess, thinking clearly and being creative by transforming ideas and problems. When there is an imbalance with the Spleen we can develop things like oedema, a heavy dull head, over think and neglect our bodies.
As you may know, the Spleen (including the pancreas) and the Stomach are part of the digestive system, and come under the earth element. Like the other organs (zang fu) the Spleen needs to be balanced or functioning well enough for it to be able to complete its task of transformation. Too much fluid, sugar and raw food can weaken the Spleen and inhibit its function, a good balance is needed. There is a traditional Chinese saying, "The Spleen loves dryness". This is adapted from the Nei Jing (commentary 82, Paul U. Unschuld translation) "The Spleen, that is, soil, abhors dampness and loves dryness.", this refers to too much fluid can cause problems with the Spleen and elsewhere. Moderation is key.
Some Nice Ways to Support the Spleen:
- Stretching with some breath work and physical exercise.
Most meats, Sweet potato, Legumes, Nuts, Oats, Liquorice, Oily fish. These are foods that have a sweet nature to them. Some of these can be added to your diet, not to be consumed in excess.
Green tea, Jasmine tea, Mustard leaves, Coriander, Corn, Oily fish, Pumpkin. These are foods that have a bitter nature to them. Not to be consumed in excess.
I would add meditation to this list, just a few minutes. I've heard that 7 minutes is a good amount of time, then you keep adding 7 minutes as you progress.
Tips Supporting the Digestive System:
- Stop eating just before you are full: This will help to reduce the strain on your digestive system and give your body less work in processing the food. There will also be less of a chance of having a drowsy sensation.
Eating a varied diet: Our bodies need a wide range of food groups that supply us with vitamins, minerals, fibre, proteins etc. Concentrating on one or two things that are good for us, can have the reversed effect after a period of time, if done in excess.
Quality of food: Where it is possible in your life, consume organic of free range products. Try to buy locally grown produce at farmers markets etc. Another way to find healthy food, that is extremely cheap or FREE, you can use Apps like Olio or Too Good To Go.
Early dinner: Your body is naturally slow down towards the end of the day. This means your digestive system isn't performing at its maximum in the evening. Finishing your last meal around 7-8pm, will insure an easier digestive process.
Exercise: Any form of exercise is fantastic for your digestive system and your state of mind. Make sure the exercise is comfortably and within your capability, whilst being enjoyable that way you're more likely to keep it up.