Your Body is a Garden: 5 Things To Do To Nourish Your Soil
The longest day of the year is fast approaching, Summer Solstice marks the official beginning of summer. In Chinese medicine, Summer is associated with the Earth element, which on a physical level embodies the support, strength and solidity of our muscles, tissues and organs; healthy flow of blood in vessels; and digestion of our food and fluids into energy and nutrients. When this system is out of balance, we might experience symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, a foggy mind, water retention, irregular bleeding, or digestive issues.
On a deeper level, the Earth element speaks to how we are able to root ourselves as we reach for our goals and aspirations. It supports us to be resilient through change, nurture others and ourselves, integrate our experiences, digest our thoughts and be present.
Earth supports growth, it’s the soil from which life flourishes, so it is connected to how we nurture others and ourselves. When out of balance, we might become over-reliant on others to care for us or care too much for others so that we neglect caring for ourselves. It also encompasses thought process, which when in balance is clear but at its extreme can lead to rumination, over-thinking, worry, anxiety and obsession.
Summer is the perfect time to strengthen the Earth elements in the body. At Acubalance, we talk a lot about nourishing the soil before planting the seed when optimizing overall health to help your eggs, sperm and embryos grow to their peak potential. Your body is the soil and its Earth system is a big part of it. Take advantage of summertime and the perfect opportunity to strengthen it!
Here are a five ways that you can optimize your body’s Earth elements this Summer:
1. Eat simply
The Earth nourishes us through the food and resources that it provides, and as such, it is connected to our digestion, which not only allows us to assimilate nutrients efficiently, but also supports our ability to digest thoughts and experiences more effectively too.
Scientists are recognizing the bidirectional relationship of the gut-brain-axis, finding evidence that the micro-fauna of our guts have a major impact on our state of mind and that the brain plays a role in gastrointestinal function as well.
Support your digestive system this summer by preparing food simply, with minimum seasonings and mild taste. Avoid complicated dishes with too many ingredients and combinations of foods. Use moderate cooking times, methods and temperatures, using water and cooking oils. Avoid late night eating and overeating. Take advantage of the abundance of fresh colorful veggies and fruits, eating the rainbow means more anti-oxidants!
2. Exercise Outside
Earth is about solidity and strength. Exercise increases blood flow, which brings oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and its organ systems, which ultimately nourishes and strengthens.
Try to get regular light to moderate exercise. What is light to moderate? In general, about a half-hour of light cardio per day is about right. Strengthen your muscles and tissues by incorporating some strengthening exercises. Yoga is my favourite approach for increasing strength and flexibility without being too vigorous or draining while supporting relaxation too. Consult your healthcare practitioner to find out the best exercise regime for your body type.
Also, take it outside. Studies have shown that exercising outside in natural environments is associated with greater feelings of revitalization and decreases in tension, anger, and depression as well as lower levels of salivary cortisol when compared to exercise indoors or in cities.
Exposure to sunshine also supports Vitamin D synthesis in the body, which supports mood, immunity, and hormone balance.
3. Get your hands dirty in the garden
Literally get down to earth, and be in touch with the creative magic that happens when you actually nourish soil and plant seeds.
Studies show that even as little as a half hour of gardening offers relief from acute stress, lowering cortisol levels and increasing positive mood while improving depression symptoms. It also exposes us to a commonly found soil bacteria, that’s been shown to increase serotonin release and metabolism in the brain, acting similarly to antidepressant medications.
4. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation supports our Earth energy by helping us to be in the present moment, and not stuck ruminating about regrets from the past or fears and anxieties about the future.
It helps us to see our thoughts as passing events in the mind rather than ultimate reflections of reality, allowing us to relate to our experiences without as much emotional reactivity. With this kind of mental clarity and perspective, we are better able to grow and transform through challenging experiences. We are more firmly grounded in our choices and actions in moving toward our goals and aspirations.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of paying particular attention to our present thoughts and experiences on a moment-to-moment basis without judgment. Studies show that mindfulness meditation decreases cortisol levels and inflammation, while increasing wellbeing and resilience.
5. Get some acupuncture
Imbalances in the Earth system can be pinpointed, and proper functioning can be restored through acupuncture. If you have any concerns with energy, water metabolism, digestion, irregular bleeding, prolapse, worry, or mental clarity, your TCM practitioner can help identify the underlying Earth pattern and address it. Acupuncture increases blood flow, while decreasing inflammation and stress.
Dr. Alda Ngo