Just when we thought it was Autumn the sun has decided to give us one more blast of warmth! Strictly speaking, of course, it’s the tilt of the planet and the southerly winds that dictate when it is warm in the UK. The sun doesn’t really care. It just shines on regardless, 24/7 all year round, hopefully for the next 5 billion years before it finally dies.
Earth Phase = late summer
Autumn isn’t due until the equinox on 22nd September of course, so at the moment it’s still summer, albeit barely hanging on by its fingertips. According to the Five Elements system in Chinese philosophy, we are actually in the Earth phase, a pivotal time of year between the Yang and Yin when the summer is waning. It is the last days of the harvest; the final crops are being brought in and fruits are at their ripest and sweetest.
It is also the Earth phase that connects all the elements to each other. The Earth in our bodies is represented by the functions of the Stomach and Spleen (or the digestive system), and so the centre of the human anatomy, so pretty important to the whole of the body. The harvest is also pretty important. Without a good harvest the winter will be pretty grim, which will have a knock on effect for the seasons to follow.
Living according to the Seasons
The same applies to us too. In this context a good harvest might mean a good salary, enough to perhaps invest and build up a pension pot for our autumn years. It might also mean living a healthy lifestyle and keeping fit throughout our summer years (in this context meaning one’s 30s and 40s) in order to enjoy our retirement years.
The Autumn should be a time of withdrawing from outside involvement and looking for meaning within. It is a time of ‘letting go’, just as the trees let go of their leaves. If you find it difficult to let go, then you may find it difficult facing the end of life. And if your harvest is poor, you may find yourself working later on in life when you should be having a gin and tonic at the bowls club.
So what happens if we don’t (or can’t) let go? Well, if we don’t let go of the summer and continue to wear less, stay up late and eat summer foods, we are more susceptible to viruses and the cold. Or, put another way, if we are not in tune with the changing of the seasons (or nature), our Qi may be weakened and therefore our defences are down.
This can mean poor health too, or even an early death. Again, using our own life phases as an example, when you are entering the Autumn time of life it becomes increasingly difficult doing the things you were able to do quite easily when you were 30. It might not be a matter of having the energy, but rather being older and wiser, ‘been there and done that’. Plus skinny jeans look better on youngsters.
This is the natural cycle of life, something the ancient Chinese not only noticed acutely, but studied and mapped out extensively by way of the 5 element system. In the Spring everything is bursting with energy, nature flourishes and there is renewed vigour. This leads to Summer, when the sun is high and growth is in full swing and settling into itself, followed by the late summer, the time of maturation and harvest. Then comes Autumn, the time of letting go and inward reflection, preparing for the long Winter months of isolation and recovery.
Out of sync with Nature
This is in an ideal world of course. Now we find this natural order being affected by global warming, a manmade affliction. The ice caps are melting, bushfires rage across America, diseases cross the species barrier. And, of course, Man does not live separate to Nature; we are part of Nature, so in turn our own natural rhythms and health is out of balance too. Obesity rates in the uk have quadrupled in the last 25 years, which means more diabetes, cancer, and many other comorbidities. Depression and mental health issues can be found in all sections of society and all age groups. World fertility rates are on the decline year on and year out.
As I’ve said lots of times in my blog, we need to tune into how we are feeling in order to change our health, and perhaps that means tuning into how the planet is feeling too. So lots of Qi Gong Earth postures!