My worry doll
You mark your days in made up ways
Just throw the calendar away
And let the sun spin you round the poles ….
♥ Worry Doll, a song written by musician Tanya Donelly as a lullaby for her daughters ♥
For many of us, Labour Day marks the end of summer. For as long as most of us can remember, September has been a time to hunker down. We feel driven to get back to work (or school), to organize, structure and schedule, to make all those appointments we’ve been putting off, and to just plain get going now that those looser, lazier days of summer are gone.
But as we know, summer isn’t over until the sun reaches round the equator at the autumn equinox on September 23.
And take a look outside. As I write this, it’s raining, warm and soggy, after over a week of dense, steaming humidity. The Earth doesn’t know that we’ve decided summer’s over. She’s still hard at work, nourishing and supporting all those late summer crops in preparation for fall harvest.
And what about you? If you’re an Earth mama, it’s likely that you are busy nourishing and supporting others at this time too. In fact, nourishing and supporting others is probably a big part of your life.
In Five Element theory and Chinese medicine, we as humans are microcosms of universal energies, reflections of our environment. Each of us is a unique expression of our particular mix of the five elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water). All of us have all five elements within us. But we each tend to manifest one or two of the elements in greater concentration.
Earth-type people share the qualities of our Earth mother, being patient, generous, and constant. Relationships are central to the lives of Earth people. Like the Earth herself, they are able to give and receive with ease.
How do you know if you’re an Earth type?
Physically, Earth types tend to have well-developed musculature and be solid and pliant rather than tight and sinuous (as a Wood type might be), sharp and angular (as Fire types can be), or soft and fluid (as a Water type often is).
Mentally and emotionally, Earth types are secure, steady and stable, although at times this stability may be little too fixed, reflecting the immovable density of rock.
Whether you are an Earth person or not, the Earth element (and the organs it relates to) provides you with your centre. Think of it this way: even as the Earth spins on her axis – and around the sun – we remain securely attached to our Mother. Such is the centring power of Earth.
Earth to belly: your digestion and the Earth element
The organs connected to Earth are Stomach as well as the Spleen (whose function in Chinese medicine encompasses that of Western medicine’s pancreas).
This makes sense, as these organs receive, transform and transport the nourishment we gain from Earth’s bounty of food and drink.
Just as Mother Earth can become unbalanced and express it chaotic weather patterns, so too can our inner Earth element. Usually this is the result of long-term taking in food and drink that is inappropriate for us. Chinese medicine teaches that the Spleen loves dryness and abhors dampness, so overindulgence in dampening foods like dairy and sweets can easily lead to a Spleen imbalance.
It’s no coincidence that at this time of year, weather tends to toward dampness. Those of us with Spleen imbalances may feel sluggish in late summer, perhaps plagued by heavy headaches linked to poor digestion, since our soggy surroundings worsen existing Spleen/Earth imbalances. Things get “sticky” – mucus and congestion can worsen, as can bloating and sticky stools. These are all manifestations of the solid Earth element becoming, literally, “stuck.”
Earth imbalances can also be expressed by a tendency toward “pensiveness” — worry or over-thinking. If our inner Earth element is out of balance, we lose our centre. We can worry about the details of our plans to the point of obsession. We can literally worry ourselves sick. In fact, not only is over-thinking a sign of Spleen imbalance – an expression of it – it is also a cause of it.
Which brings us back to the “full speed ahead” feeling many of us get caught up in at this time of year. Perhaps the September back to school frenzy is an expression of the Earth element after all – albeit a not-so-balanced one!
Balancing your inner Earth element
So at this time of year, taking care of our inner Earth mother is extra-important. To cultivate those calming Earth qualities that will counteract the tendency toward over-thinking and obsession with detail, it is more important than ever to set aside soothing time for yourself. It doesn’t need to be complicated. A walk in the woods this weekend might be perfect – and better yet, it won’t stress your Spleen with any complicated planning!
We can also be mindful of our diets and resist the urge to indulge in that heavily sugared pumpkin latte or spice cake when our energy dips … remember, heavily sweetened foods and excess dairy contribute to dampness, and will make your Spleen and you feel dense, heavy and immovable.
Instead, when the cravings hit, try to choose naturally sweet drinks like licorice or chai tea. Even a chai or green tea latte made with nut milk instead of dairy would assist with the process of weaning you from sugar.
And finally, maybe most importantly – a big part of nourishing our inner Earth element is connecting with mothering energy. You can do that in many ways: make that walk a daily date with yourself, treat yourself to a massage instead of a muffin (healthy touch is also key to strengthening the Earth element), or spend time with a favourite person or pet.
Feel the love! ♥