As summer comes to an end and fall approaches, there is a period when time seems to stop and the glory of summer hangs suspended. It is the time of ripening, when what grew and matured in spring and summer is finally ready for harvest. Time of peace and abundance when we appreciate the fruits of our labour. This is the season of Late Harvest, which in Chinese Medicine is associated to the Stomach and Spleen meridians.
The element of this season is Earth, which energy is about grounding and stability. We can clearly see this in nature, as a tree is as sturdy as the soil where is rooted. At a mental level we can see that Earth represents the centre of gravity, the central point of reference around which all the other aspects are oriented.
Take a few moments to feel this presence. Are you feeling grounded? Do you have a clear foundation in your life? Are there areas where there isn't a clear one? Are you clear on what is the cornerstone of your life, which gives you clarity and ground about who you are and where you want to move towards?
What are the attributes of the Earth element?
To understand the presence of this element in ourselves we look at the characteristics of stability and nurture of Earth. Someone with a strong Earth cares a lot about nurturing others and creates relationships and interconnectedness. She or he converts discord into harmony, acting as a peacemaker. They anticipate and meet the needs of others, making everyone feel welcomed. A person with a strong Earth element is like the glue that keeps groups together. Serving and providing. Mothering and nurturing just like the Earth.
How does an imbalance in the Earth element manifests at a emotional level?
When the element is in balance, we are sociable, supportive, nurturing and sympathetic. However, like any other element, this can go out of balance. When there us too much of this element nurturing becomes intrusive, overinvolved, overprotective, obsessed and meddlesome. As the person no longer find himself comfortable in this role this can result in feeling lack of clarity and lack of confidence. Worriedness and anxiety appear. On the opposite side, to little Earth manifests in lack of firmness, resoluteness. A person becomes vacillating, easily attached and clingy. At a mental level there might be issues with independence and identity.
How does an imbalance in the Earth element manifests at a physical level?
A balance in Earth element affects the stomach and spleen meridians. Strong appetite fluctuations and food disorders are a common result of imbalance in this element. Digestive and metabolic disorders can be experienced, as the being is not being able to nurture itself.
How to find the balance in the Earth Element?
The power of Earth comes from the capacity to link, nurture and sustain. But it requires to find a balance between the devotion to others with times of solitude and self-expression.
To remain grounded in our true self, we need to develop clarity on who we are at a deeper level. That “who we are” has nothing to do with a name, a role, a profession, a hobby or a life story. We need to develop that realisation of our true nature: the awareness, the observer.
To balance this element, we can work on developing a deep understanding of the self so your value won’t depend or be defined in relation to others. A practice that can serve for this is Neti Neti Meditation. Neti Neti means “not this, nor that”. To practice Neti Neti, you first become aware of any label you have used to describe yourself and then wilfully drop it, bringing realisation that is not what you are.
Identify everything that comes, anything you can name. And drop all of that. Anything that can be given a name is exactly that, It can't be you. Bring all the words that you used to describe you and that seems like that's who you are and negate all of them. If I can name it. That can't be you.
There is a Zen story that teaches about the nature of our being and how realise our true self: The observer of the experience, the awareness. It is a great short story to share in a yoga class to invite students to reflect on this. You can find it here: A Zen Story: True Self.
Finding yourself is not about becoming, is about the realisation you already are complete, full, uncovering. The clarity of who you are under all the covers. Finding yourself is about removing all the covers. What is left is the True Self.
Let's stay in that space. I AM.
I hope this blog brings some reflection and insight you can use for your life, your practice and your teaching.