I always know we are moving into late summer when the peaches start dropping from the tree in our garden, and the birds seem drunk on the sweet blackberries that grow down by the creek. Now begins the season of the harvest, the season of great abundance and nourishment. In Chinese medicine, Late Summer is actually considered a season unto itself, and in the Five elements framework this season corresponds to the Earth element. As with all of the elements, there are so many potent healing themes contained within Earth. I like to take some time to unpack some of these healing themes in my monthly newsletters, as when we explore and integrate these different facets of ourselves, we can move towards greater health in all areas of our lives.
Health is really so much more than the absence of disease or pain. Health is so much more than eating right and exercising, though these things are indeed very important! But the highest level of health is fully stepping into and embodying the truest core essence of our being. It is being in rhythm with who we came into this world to be. It is living in a state where we can shine the radiant light of our true heart, and we generously share that light in all aspects of our lives. The beauty of the inner tradition of Chinese Medicine is that it is a path of coming home to who we really are. It is the path to health at the deepest, constitutional level.
Sometimes we may lose touch with this core essence of our being, or we may not even realize it exists, because the pain and suffering in our lives has caused us to shut down our growth/healing in some fundamental way. Many of us fall into patterns in an effort to cope with the pain--patterns of undermining or sabotaging our growth, patterns of self destructive habits or thoughts, patterns of identifying with our sickness, and not with our true nature. The Five Element acupuncture approach is to help clear those patterns, and to reopen that path that leads us back to who we really are at our deepest, most radiant core.
We each have one element that is our main constitution. This means that the core themes of that particular element make up the core themes of our life; this element holds both are greatest strengths and our greatest weaknesses. And although one element is our primary constitution, all of the five elements live within each of us. We need them all to be working together harmoniously, like a family of energies inside of us. Just like in a family, when one element is brought into greater health, it brings the other elements into greater health as well. Focusing on the healing themes of a particular element during its corresponding season is a great way to work on our self-healing throughout the year. So now that we are entering the season of late summer, let's focus our healing energy on our Earth element, and the teachings it holds.
Earth is the element of the harvest, and of deep sustaining nourishment. It is the part of ourselves that, when healthy, knows when to give and when to receive. It is the part of ourselves that knows how to balance our own needs with the needs of others. This is the "ecology of needs". Earth is the element of ecology, and ecology is all about balance. One of the key themes I've been contemplating in regards to Earth lately is the role that self care plays in this ecology of needs. This has taken on an even deeper meaning for me personally, as being a mom to a toddler is teaching me how essential it is to make time and space for self care. If I don't learn how give myself what I really need, then I don't really have much left to give to my child. There needs to be a balance for there to be a healthy ecology. This applies to other areas of our lives as well. Do we have enough inner abundance to give all that is needed in our relationships and friendships, in our work, in every area of our lives? Or are we running on empty?
We can think of ourselves as the soil from which our life grows. When we tend to our own self-- our soil-- with the right amount and the right kind of nutrients, then there can be an abundant and nourishing harvest in our lives. Abundance means that not only do we have enough for our self, but we have enough to share. Our soil's health is dependent on healthy self-care, and the fruits that grow from this soil are what we in turn harvest in our lives. Our relationships, our families, our careers, our passions, our spiritual paths-all of these are the fruits that want to grow and offer themselves in our lives. Will they be abundant and teeming with delicious nourishment? Or will they be withered and scanty, leaving us with a constant aching hunger? The answer lies in the extent to which we tend to our own soil-- our practices of self care!
A misconception that some people may have is that self care is selfish. But self care is not the same thing as unchecked hedonism or indulgence. There is a big difference. True self care is the basic foundation for health. When we are the healthiest, we have the most to give. Again and again I have seen so many people sacrifice their own self care thinking that doing so, and being "selfless" is somehow a gift to others. But the opposite is true. There is a wonderful expression: "To be generous, one must first be rich." Being "rich" means being deeply nourished. Being deeply nourished depends upon us creating time and space for our own self care. This means we need to do the things that are truly nourishing, not just pleasurable or distracting. There are many things that are temporarily pleasurable but that actually deplete us, or numb us out. So we need to discover for ourselves the ways in which we can truly nourish ourselves, and thus become stronger. We also need to know how we can fit these self care practice into our daily lives, so that we may be continually feeding a rich and healthy soil. This healthy soil is what will in turn yield a nourishing and delicious harvest of fruit--the harvest of our lives.
But it is not always so easy to figure out how to truly nourish ourselves! We all have unique nourishment needs. This is why my next women's healing circle will be devoted entirely to going deeper into this theme of self care and nourishment, and into exploring how the Earth element manifests uniquely within each of us. Details are below. I hope you will join us!
Come join our women's healing circle and learn more about the Earth Element in you!!
Daughters of Demeter is a series of healing circles for women. Each circle has a different seasonal theme, based on the teachings of the Five Elements fused with archetypes of the sacred feminine. Following the flow of the seasons, these groups invite us to dive deeply into all of these different facets of ourselves, so that we may come to understand ourselves at a more meaningful level, and so that we may also learn how to move past any obstacles keeping us from flourishing and blossoming fully in our lives. Together we will be learning and sharing in an intimate, safe, and sacred circle of sisterhood. We will be doing this work primarily through guided writing prompts and personal sharing. We may also incorporate qigong exercises, elements of ritual, and sacred song based on the season and element we are exploring.
Our next circle gathers to explore the Earth Element, and the archetype of the Mother. We will explore several rich and potent themes in this session, including our relationship to nourishment, the sacred art and practice of self care, balancing the "ecology of needs" in our lives, and learning to mother ourselves. With the intention of healing, we will go beyond exploration and dive into discovering practical ways to make healthy and needed change in our lives.
We will be doing this healing work at my clinic here in beautiful Happy Valley on Sunday August 30th, from 10:00 to 12:00. The cost for the Earth session is $30, but participants that register by August 15th will receive an early bird discount of $25. Pre-registration is required. For now I am only offering one of these healing circles for each season and element, so if you're interested be sure to sign up soon, as space is limited!
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I am a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a Heart-centered practice in the Santa Cruz mountains. See my About page for more about me and the work I do.