The Fifth Element


Traditional Chinese Medicine divides the manifestation of all things in the universe into five transformations or elements, each with an associated season.

Wait. Five elements, four seasons. What gives?

Well, it's like this:

  • Metal=Autumn
  • Water=Winter
  • Wood=Spring
  • Fire=Summer
  • Earth=Late Summer

Yep, late summer is considered its own season, or sometimes even the transitional period in between the seasons, especially from winter to spring, or summer to fall. Difficulty in mind or body with making these shifts can indicate an earth element imbalance.

And this is because transitions have to do with a temporary loss of stability or groundedness. When the external world is shifting, we need to maintain some sense of center and the familiar in order to feel safe. Or we have not begun to prepare internally for the change.

The earth element is about that center. And stability. Roots and relationships. Self-care and nourishment.

In nature, the preparations for the coming season have begun long before we see evidence of them. Seeds start cracking their casings deep under the snow in February. Roots are calling back the sap within the trees long before the leaves change colors.

Our bodies, too, start sensing the change long before we're aware of it, or the calendar pages turn. A good time to start changing the diet and activity level to prepare for the climate change is about 10-14 days before the actual date. This will allow for more evenness of emotions and less trauma in the form of colds, flu and fatigue.

Late summer into autumn is the time when we have to harvest what we've tended to during the active months, and take stock of what we have to carry forward.

So, some questions to ask yourself going forward into the time of less plenty are:

  • What do you need to ground you and nourish you when you are in transition?
  • Do you have enough of those resources to sustain you in the coming months?
  • Who can you count on to be in your support network and who can count on you?
  • What situations can cause you to overthink or worry, and how can you prepare ahead of time so as to feel more secure?

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Five Elements: An Intro

Wood v Earth