Embracing the change of seasons is one of my favorite ways to practice being a healthy and balanced human. It's also a great entry point to the world of holistic health; tuning in with the energy of a season is an exciting, accessible, and bite-sized way to start to implement new practices.
What do I mean by "energy of the season"? For me, energy means the weather, the food that's growing, what's happening in nature, elements that are dominant, as well as the more subtle information we're receiving, and how all of these aspects affect the way we feel, behave, interact, and also how the natural world around us does.
On a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis we take in and emulate the energy that surrounds us. We can observe this on many levels - when you spend a lot of time with the same group of people, for example, you begin to pick up their behaviors, thought patterns, beliefs, and speech. You might feel more peaceful while in the forest, or more anxious watching a scary movie. Just as these very tangible examples effect our physical health, we are constantly becoming attuned or 'entrained' with the more subtle energies all around us - for better or worse! Now, before you start to go down that black hole, imagine how we can use this information to our advantage - for example, by choosing to harmonize with the natural energies of a season rather than battling them.
For more information on entrainment and coherence, check out The Heart Math Institute!
As I write this, we are approaching the corn moon, or the harvest moon. The mornings and evenings are starting to feel more crisp and cool, and the humidity is starting to drop. Welcome to late summer. Late summer, or indian summer, is a fifth season recognized by Traditional Chinese Medicine that falls between summer and autumn.
Energy of the Season
Late summer is a lovely time of year. Though fleeting and perhaps overlooked, it has much to teach us about the medicine of transitions. We move through many transitions throughout life, big and small: sleeping to waking, starting school, going to work, getting a new job, quitting a job, menstruation, menopause, births, deaths, new marriages and partnerships and relationships, moving to a new home... these are all transitions, and opportunities to practice more compassion, love, and patience with ourselves.
I'm reminded of this potent bit of wisdom recently shared in the wonderful Moonbeaming Newsletter offered by Sarah Gottesdiener of Modern Women:
I give myself permission to be extra sweet to myself when I make big mistakes.
I give myself permission to be extra sweet to myself when I make big mistakes.
Perhaps we could shift this affirmation to I give myself permission to be extra sweet to myself when I make transitions, big or small - to use in seasons of transition.
The element of late summer is earth, the organs to support are in the upper digestion tract (stomach, spleen + pancreas), the colors to bring into our homes and bodies are deep golden yellows and oranges, and the taste is sweet. The earth element is grounding, nourishing, cozy, and this season teaches us all about nurturing ourselves.
The energy and support of the earth element reminds me of a recent Strange Pine Tea & Tarot post (from the Instagram series for Crose Nest): You might be feeling a little more grounded, less chaotic, more in problem solving mode... Create the space for yourself to feel into your true intentions and adjust any behaviors and thought patterns that aren’t aligned with your vision. When we're grounded, we're able to clear up space in psyche + spirit to be more present for creating more mindful intentions and actions.
Here are some of my favorite grounding + nurturing practices to help synchronize with the energy of late summer, or to turn to in any time of transition.
Rhythm + Routine
Routines help us energize + motivate us by getting clarity and intention around what we value, and prioritizing them. A great place to begin to implement rhythm + routine in your daily life is in the morning and evening. Now, structuring a morning or bedtime routine is a topic for a whole other post! For now, I'll share a list of my favorite practices to include:
herbal tea or warm, spiced milk
sitting quietly, letting my body/mind wake up (m)
burning incense + smudging
gentle stretching or yoga
turning phones + screens on/off 1 hour after waking/before sleeping
morning + nighttime walks
breathing exercises or meditation
pulling a tarot or oracle card
making breakfast + coffee, and sitting down to eat it (m)
foot baths or foot massage
affirmations or gratitude practice
turning off bright lights + lighting candles, salt lamps, soft lights
To begin to structure your own morning or bedtime ritual, draw inspiration from this list, and write your own list of practices that sound grounding, uplifting, and luxurious to you!
Baths + oil massage
Warm soaks or showers are a lovely way to ground, nurture, and bring in warmth. Adding in an oil massage before getting in the water stimulates lymph movement, and softens & hydrates the skin. Foot soaks are a quick and simple form of self care. Add in a handful of epsom salts and herbs for added medicine! Soaking and massaging the feet draws our energy down from our busy minds, and feels incredibly grounding and releasing.
As the mornings and nights begin to get cooler, don't forget to dress accordingly! Preserving our summer heat is a key factor in building up deep winter immunity. Wear light scarves, socks or slippers, and layers.
In the kitchen
As this season focuses on nourishing our upper digestive organs, it's particularly important to help them out by making sure the food you eat is easier to digest. Start to cook your foods more in this season, focusing on steaming or braising greens and veggies, adding in broths, and eating most (if not all) of your food warm. It's also a lovely time to fire up the oven again.
To help kindle your digestive fire, drink warm ginger tea or warm lemon-ginger-honey water in the mornings and evenings. Sit while eating whenever possible, share meals with roommates, family + friends, and always take a few grounding, calming breaths before digging in. Bon appétit!
The harvest season used to be a great time of gathering - of food and friends.
A balance of long days in the fields, processing + storing food for the winter, plus community, celebration, and honoring the abundance of life-sustaining gifts received from Mother Nature. How can we connect with this aspect of long summer in an era of seemingly endless abundance? Here are some ideas:
shop at your local farm stand and imbibe with what is in season
participate in a community harvest
host a potluck, or other celebratory gathering with friends
gather seasonal herbs (goldenrod, mugwort, staghorn sumac, elderberry...)
Herbs to support the energy of this season are nutritive, sweet + slightly bitter, and building. Some favorites are oat straw or milky oat tops, astragalus, ashwagandha, hawthorn, shatavari, fenugreek, cinnamon, cardamom, licorice, and fresh ginger. A great way to prepare all of these dense, rooty and mineral-rich herbs is a decoction or a milk decoction.
How to Prepare an Herbal Decoction
medium saucepan or soup pot (depending on how much you want to make!)
fine mesh strainer, or awesome Crose Nest cloth bag!
herbs + water *use 1 T herbs per quart of water*
optional: milk (cow/sheep/goat or nut/grain milk)
optional: honey, maple syrup, molasses, or other natural sweetener
Add herbs and water to the pot. I usually add about 1 p water + 1 p milk, if using
Bring to a boil, and let simmer at least 20 minutes.
Strain, sweeten to taste, and sip peacefully.
Some of my favorite items currently at the shop to support the late summer season:
sweetgrass braid (smoke cleansing your space + self)
blend-your-own bath salts
citrine + aragonite stones
'Sore Muscle Salve' from Fat and the Moon (for warming achey joints)
'Ginger Love' massage oil from Lotus Fox Botanicals
Wishing you a sweet late summer and many grounded transitions,
Dear reader: This blog is intended for sharing general health information that I feel confident and safe using in my home and everyday wellness routine. The information presented here is not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any illnesses or diseases, and should not be used in place of medical advice. Please use caution, wisdom, and respect when adding anything new into your own wellness routines, and consult with your trusted medical practitioner - especially if you are taking pharmaceutical medications.