“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”
It is Late Summer and we are steadily approaching the Autumn Equinox which falls around the 22nd to the 24th of September. As the sun’s alignment crosses the celestial equator from north to south, day and night become equal across the world. This time of year is a bit like a gentle buffer between seasons; effortless and dreamy. In fact it is almost as though time could stop still – as if we were living in the instant where the pendulum reverses it’s swing….
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this is the point of transition from yang to yin, between the more expansive, highly spirited growth phases of spring and summer and the inward, cooler and more soulful autumn and winter seasons. Astrologically we enter the sign of Libra, bringing equanimity and balance, and by necessity, change and transformation.
Now is the time to celebrate the harvest, to honour the Earth and all her gifts, friendships, family, our creations and achievements. We can share with one another what we have gained and completed during the Summer and make stores and plans for the oncoming Winter. As the sap in the trees and plants move down towards the roots, you may feel this same energy within as you turn and seek strength from deep within. Equinox is a time to redirect our focus inwards and find balance between between the outer journey and the inner journey. It is a time for long-term visioning and incubation. As fruit ripens and falls to decay on the earth, casting seeds into the fertile soil, the seed ideas planted now will re-emerge in the spring, transformed and strengthen by their time in the unconscious.
In TCM, the Equinox and the fifteen days surrounding it (seven and a half days before and after) is governed by the Earth Element. One of 5 Elements or ‘Transformations’ , Earth represents the foundation of our physical existence. Earth energy is supportive, stable, dependable. It is fertile, abundant, nurturing and reassuring. The organ that represents it is the Spleen (actually Pancreas) which governs digestion, extracting nutrition and energy from the food we eat to nourish and strengthen our Blood, giving us bodily warmth, physical vitality and a sense of well being. The Spleen gives us the ‘Earth’ of our bodies; the flesh and it’s characteristic texture and tone. Resilient, firm, well circulated flesh, neither too fat nor too loose nor too lean, denotes a healthy Spleen.
To attune to the change of seasons and to support the Earth Element in your body, choose foods that are harmonising, easy to digest and uncomplicated such as soups and stews, seasonal vegetables and foods that represent the centre- mildly sweet, yellow, golden or round like squash, sweet potato, peas, string beans, corn, millet, quinoa, carrots…you get the picture. Just pop to the organic veggie stall at the farmers market and you won’t go wrong. Enjoy the food you consume. Take time to eat, be calm and unhurried, chew well and if possible avoid eating late at night. I love this old adage “Have breakfast alone, share lunch with a friend and give your dinner to your enemy”.
The seasonal interchanges are traditional times of purification in many cultures. To further support your body over the Equinox you could consider a short, maybe three day mono-fast of a simple food; a single grain or moong bean kitcheree can help give the digestion a little break and bring one to the centre. Soak any grain over night and throw away the water before you cook it to increase it’s digestibility and increase the protein content. (you will need less cooking water if you do this) I like to cook up a pureed squash or mixed veggie soup or a borscht and have a small bowl of it at mealtimes. This isn’t a time for juice fasting. The spleen likes warm, gloopy cooked food!
Find the rhythms and cycles that make life simple and harmonious. Choose embodying and centring practices such as meditation, yoga, qi gong and making time for your inner self. Give thanks for your harvest. A state of gratitude opens your heart and increases the flow of love and abundance in your life. The Earth Element isn’t just about feeding yourself with food. Give your body things that feel delicious; take a long steamy candlelit bath with rose petals, anoint yourself in sweet smelling oils, take time to walk in nature, sing, stretch and dance. Oh! and the Spleen loves touch. Touch is as fundamental a need as food. Receiving body work, massaging yourself and getting cuddles are on the menu, big time!
If you want some company over the equinox come and join us on this Equinox Detox Yoga retreat in Devon from the 21st-24th September.
Visit www.holisticyogaretreats.co.uk for more information.