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Preparing for a Healthy 'Harvest Time'
Every tree, every growing thing as it grows, says this truth, you harvest what you sow.
- Rumi As we find ourselves entering the season of late summer, our bodies and spirits begin preparing for harvest time. The long hot days are getting shorter and we enter what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) calls the 'season of the Spleen.'
The Spleen doesn't get a lot of press in our western culture, but from the TCM perspective it has tremendous implications regarding our health and balance. It is represented in the element of the earth and hence, when in balance, leads to feelings of being grounded and centered. I would like to share with you here several things we can do to help to maintain equilibrium during this shift in the seasons.
We harvest what we sow.
First let's look at some of the gifts of the Spleen as well as symptoms you might experience if if out of balance.
Gifts: * Manufactures blood and the Qi (energy) of the Spleen keeps it in the vessels
* Controls the health and strength of the muscles
* Processes and distributes nutrients from our food to create Qi and blood to support our body's health and functions
* Holds our organs in place ('Upright Qi')
* Houses the 'Spirit of 'Yi' which refers to our ability to think, concentrate and discern
If the Spleen energy is out of balance, you may experience some of the following: * Bleeding in gums, stool (blood outside vessels)
* Muscle weakness or atrophy
* Undigested food in stool or digestive upsets
* Prolapsed organs
* Over-thinking and worry
If any of these conditions sound familiar here are a few tips to help keep the Spleen Qi in balance this season and all year round.
THE SPLEEN AND THE DIGESTIVE PROCESS
In the Five Element Theory of TCM, each organ system is made up of a Yin (female) and Yang (male) counterpart. The Spleen (Yin) is paired with the Stomach (Yang) and hence key in the process of digestion. Here is where we also recognize that we digest much more than our food. Every incoming thought or emotion goes through an assimilation process as well, and when we are worried or upset, we are not in an optimal state to benefit from the nourishment of our food. Be sure to chew your food thoroughly to aid the stomach in the digestive process and again, be aware of your state of mind. If you are feeling 'out of sorts' (angry, frustrated), take several deep breaths and do your best to enter a state of calm before eating.
Eating to support a healthy spleen:
Eating warm, cooked meals help to support the digestive system - avoiding raw, cold foods and ice water! Boost digestive fire with spices such as black pepper, ginger and curry as well as foods such as garlic and onions.
Other foods to consider:
* Sweet Potatoes/ Yams
* Black Beans
Two beneficial herbs for cleansing and toning of the spleen are parsley and chamomile. Parsley, eaten on salads or steeped as a tea (see recipe below) also cleanse the kidneys and intestines.
Bring a quart of water to boil and pour over a nice handful of organic parsley. (I use my tea diffuser.) Allow it to steep for several minutes and pour into a container. Add a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice to add extra benefits of vitamin C and alkalinity. Sip warm or cool it in frig and sip throughout the day for cleansing/detoxing benefits as well as beautiful support for your spleen, kidneys and liver.
ACUPRESSURE FOR SPLEEN BALANCE
Here are a few points that can address smooth digestion, counter worry and release of bottled up anger. Hold the points for 1-2 minutes beginning with gentle pressure and deepening as you breathe into the point with intention.
LV (Liver) 3 - Located between first and second toes in front of where the bones converge. Aids in all things liver related including stagnation in the body as well as resolving bottled up anger.
SP (Spleen) 4 - Located about a thumb's width up from ball of foot. Alleviates worry as well as foot cramps.
SP (Spleen) 6 - Located four finger widths up from inside ankle bone. Where Spleen, Liver and Kidney meridians meet. Helpful in resolving digestive disorders as well as reproductive disorders, painful urination and more.
May you find balance in this and every season. Wishing you a happy, healthy 'harvest time'.
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"Inner Peace Investment": $5 Learn more here. I’ve come to meditation for the very first time in my 70’s. With Maureen guiding us into deep relaxation, it comes fairly easily, with a wonderful feeling of peace and calm. Very, very good for any of us with a hectic “normal” life, reminding us of what is possible. - M.S.
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