WHAT’S THE PHASE? – WHAT’S THE POINT?
By Ellasara Kling
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ― Albert Einstein
The above quote from Albert Einstein is one of many expressions by countless people over the span of human time about our relationship to the Universal, which essentially point to freedom being found in an ongoing expansion of our conscious awareness. One of the exceedingly day-to-day practical tools that can assist us in this is Five Element theory/Phases. In the chart below, you will see that some of the many relationships that are prominent in the transitional season of Late Summer are highlighted. There are many practical applications of these ideas, some of which are found below in “Five Element Take Aways.” The emotional relationship for the Late Summer is exemplified by Over-thinking/Worry/Over concern and the antidote is contained in the concept of the Spleen/Stomach being centrally located indicating trust, faith. See what “Take Aways” you can create for yourself to enhance your life, increase your intuition, expand your relationship to the Universal.
FIVE ELEMENT THEORY
This season is Late Summer in Chinese Medicine which starts around mid-August and lasts until the Autumn Equinox. This season is a transition from “Early Summer” to “Fall.” During Late Summer, the early summer heat is beginning to cool and the earth energy is beginning to prepare for the Fall. The Spleen/Stomach is the organ-meridian system, its flavor is Sweet/Bland, its environment is damp, its direction is Middle/Center. It comes from the bitter taste and is going into pungent. The flavor which balances it is Spring’s sour taste and is enhanced by Autumn’s spiciness. Think sweet and sour or sweet and hot. This central placement of Late Summer is one of balance.
FIVE ELEMENT TAKE AWAYS:
Even though fruits are prevalent in this season, excessive eating of fruit can lead to excessive mucus later on.
For the best digestive benefit, eat meals that are lighter and well-chewed.
This is a season to follow the sun: get up earlier and stay awake a little later.
This wonderful season calls us to go outside and MOVE! Yes, exercise and always do things in moderation – keeping the balance – enjoy the sunshine (especially early morning) and keep activities lighter later in the day to avoid excessive heat intake.
Sweet flavors that come from carbohydrates such as fruit, corn, carrots, licorice, cinnamon, and so on are strengthening and tonifying to the function of the Stomach/Spleen. The sweets that come from refined sugars tend to be too intense and more readily increase internal dampness.
Remember to include some bitter taste in your meals as this flavor helps dry dampness, which is the environment for the season. This can occur, for example, by leaving on some of the skin of the cucumber, the rind of watermelon, adding dandelion leaves to your soups or stir fry.
This may be grilling and barbeque time, but too much chicken and red meat will increase internal dampness.
Aduki beans, green mung beans, and Coix Seeds (Chinese barley/jobs tears) are other foods that have a sweet and cool nature, and each contains other benefits making them good to include in your meals during Late Summer.
Did you get a little too much sun? Take a tea bag of regular black tea and wet it with warm (not hot) tap water. Gently brush your skin with the tea bag. This will reduce the burning sensation and reduce redness.
Try Cardamon as a spice this summer: it is good for the digestion, especially if there is too much heat. It is commonly used in Chai tea, and sometimes brewed with coffee, ground as a seasoning and used on meats, grains, and vegetables.
Watermelon and cucumber are natural heat reducers (see recipe below).
Even though it is warm/hot outside, iced foods/drinks are not the best idea as the stomach/spleen prefer warm foods/drinks.
The central placement of the Spleen/Stomach indicates balance and all true, deep balance comes from trust/faith.
Some Foods that are harmonious with Late Summer include: Almond, Apple, Barley, Bitter Melon, Blueberries Buckwheat, Cabbage, Carrots, Cherry, Chestnuts, Chicken, Chive, Coconut, Cooked onion, Corn, Cow’s milk, Crab, Cucumber, Dates, Duck eggs, Eggplant, Figs, Fruits (sweeter), Garlic, Ginger, Grapes, Hazelnuts, Honey, Job’s tears (Coix Seeds/Chinese Barley) Lamb, Licorice, Lotus root, Mangoes, Melons, Millet, Molasses, Mung Beans, Mushrooms (especially button mushrooms), Oats, Oranges, Peanuts, Peaches, Peas, Potato, Pumpkins, Radish, Red Chinese Dates (Jujube), Rye, Spinach, Squashes, Strawberry, Sugar, Sweet potatoes, Water chestnut, Watermelon
Green Mung bean breakfast cereal w/red dates and goji berries,
6 oz green mung beans*
8 cups cold water
10 red dates – pits removed
¼ cup goji berries
2 TB Brown sugar or honey or agave to your own taste (Do not use white sugar as it sours the taste)
First, rinse the beans well and discard the water
Place water in a large pot with salt and mung beans – cover w/lid
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer – leave lid askew so that there is room for the steam to escape
In the meantime, rinse the red dates and goji berries and remove the pits from the dates
These beans will cook fairly quickly – 15 minutes or so – when the beans “split” then
Add red dates, goji berries and brown sugar and simmer another few minutes.
Since these are beans, remember to check the water to ensure it doesn’t cook away before the beans are done. . so much is dependent on your pot and your idea of simmer. . so it is always a good idea to check . . when the beans are done, there should be a soupy quality to the water, not all mushy bean.
This is a sweet cereal that can be made the night before and quickly reheated for a cooling summer breakfast.
*available in Asian and Indian markets
Green mung beans are known for their ability to remove excess heat, including Summer Heat, reduce edema, cool the internal system, and are believed in many systems to have an internal cleansing ability. Because mung beans are very cold in nature, some people should add some pungent spice like black pepper or ginger near the end of cooking it to warm it up a little. If you already have a cold system, you might want to choose a different recipe.
Simple Lotus Root Stir Fry
2 tbs walnut oil or grapeseed oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp finely minced ginger
1/2 lb lotus root sliced into thin circles
2 stalks of celery cut on the diagonal in 1/2” pieces
a couple scallion whites cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 a red pepper sliced into thin strips
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tbs rice vinegar
1/2 tbs Hsiao Xing wine
Directions: Heat oil in a wok or heavy skillet. and add salt and ginger. Add the lotus root and celery for a couple minutes. Then add the scallions and red peppers and just until they begin to wilt. Add all the seasonings and stir-fry well.
Lotus root has a cold nature and sweet flavor. Among other things it can stimulate the appetite (in a good way), produce muscle, relieve diarrhea, and is also a Yin tonic food. It has a crisp, fresh taste. The pretty, lacy look of the cross sections are created from the plant’s air channels. Lotus root can be sliced and steamed, added to soups, and stir fried with other vegetables. Some people shred it raw and use it in salads. When eaten raw it is said to “cool the blood
Tip: This is a fibrous root and cutting it crosswise against the fibers is best for most uses.
Fresh Mint Leaves
Directions: Cut the watermelon into 1” x ½” pieces (remember to leave some rind on some of the pieces); Cut cucumber into a small dice; Finely mince mint leaves, Juice lemon
For every 4 cups of watermelon, mix together a heaping ¼ cup of cucumber mixed with 3 large mint leaves.
Mix the cucumber/mint with the juice of ½ a lemon and a ¼ tsp salt.
Toss the cucumber mixture w/the watermelon
Garnish with some thin slices of cucumber and whole mint leaves
I large mango
1 medium to large orange
5 – 6Fresh large Mint leaves
2-3 large strawberries
2-4 oz. Coconut milk
Thinly slice 1 large mango into strips that are 1/8” wide, ¼” deep and 2” long
Section the orange and cut each section into thirds
Finely mince the mint leaves
Small dice of the strawberries
Mix the mango, orange and mint leaves together, sprinkle the strawberries on top
And cover half way with coconut milk
Can also be served over warm rice. Garnishes can include: chopped candied ginger, toasted sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, goji berries, use your imagination.
Mint Tea: Whether using fresh mint leaves or dried or even mint tea bags, mint tea stands out as nature’s wonderful Late Summer cooling beverage. The Moroccans drink their mint tea sweet — about 1-1/2 TB sugar per 8 oz cup – (adjust to your own taste) and made with green tea (a cool essence beverage) and/or orange blossom water; basic mint tea is: about 12-15 leaves steeped in 2-3 cups of water that is near boiling for 5-15 minutes, sweeten to taste; use peppermint or spearmint, Both are refreshing, add citrus such as lemon or orange, strawberry, or even a thin slice of star fruit as garnish. Drink warm, never with ice. It will naturally bring a refreshed and cooling feeling.
If you spend most of your time in cold air conditioned rooms, you might want to drink ginger tea to insulate yourself from the inside from the cold air. Remember to “peel” your ginger – most easily with the edge of a spoon — as the skin is cooling in nature.
Wishing you good health! Remember to smile from the heart at all things.
The information in this article is based on the theories and principles of Chinese Medicine/Five Element Theory. Ellasara, a practitioner of Wu Ming Qigong, has been studying with Master and Dr. Nan Lu for many years and has participated in numerous special classes through TCM World Foundation and the Tao of Healing in New York City. For comments, questions, consultations, firstname.lastname@example.org