Seasonal transitions occur in most areas of the world, especially in the North Eastern region of the Unites States. The visible changes become tangible evidence that time continues to push onward even if we are unable to grasp the complex theory of time entirely. Understanding the importance of seasonal changes is important when using them as guidelines for emotional and physical well being. Four primary seasons are usually recognized. However, late summer or Indian Summer, should be recognized as a fifth season for its importance and the changes it brings into our world, even though it is relatively short compared to other seasons.
Western medicine has traditionally recognized the emotional and physical aspects of life divided into two separate categories; an approach believed to have originated from French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) who argued that intangibles like (religious) faith have no place in the physical world. His theories about dualism implied the body worked like a machine and the mind and/or soul were “nonmaterial entities that lacked extension and motion and did not follow the laws of nature.” This approach has left the western world fragmented because it usually lacks symmetry and balance between the mind and body when medical care is sought out.
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine there are three distinct strands of well being which include body, mind and soul. Originated in India and believed to be about 5,000 years old, the goal in Ayurvedic medicine is to amalgamate all three strands of life into a cohesive braid leading to balanced physical and emotional well being. Ayurvedic care broadly defines people into three main categories known as doshas which loosely align with seasons. Kapha is connected to mid-February to mid-June, Pitta is connected to mid-June to mid- October and Vatta is connected to mid-October to mid February. Through a series of daily practices correlating to each dosha such as dietary needs, awareness of sleep patterns, daily abyhanga massages using dosha specific oil, yoga mediations and the use of colours, the positive qualities of each dosha are amplified.
The five element theory derived from Chinese medicine includes fire, earth, metal, water and wood. It represents the symbiotic relationships found in our environment and ourselves and defines five seasons simultaneously. Late summer is the season reflected in the earth element and can be understood logically when analyzed in further depth. It is the time for harvesting crops that were cultivated during the spring and summer seasons. We begin to shift our visual interest in colors from the cooling characteristics derived from blue and green to the warmth of yellow, oranges, brown and shades of red.
We begin to have less interest in lighter refreshing foods and beverages such as cucumbers, watermelon and cold mint tea and begin gravitating to toward foods such as butternut squash baked with cinnamon and nutmeg and warm chai tea. Aromatherapy preferences in bodywork sessions also have a tendency to shift from the crisp vibrant scent of lemongrass toward warm earthy scents such as ginger and ylang-ylang.
Even if an individual is not aware they may be following eastern philosophy and the paradigm shift of their seasonal behaviors, it emerges with the anticipation of the kaleidoscope of colors found in the changing fall foliage. The colors in the landscape bring a sense of familiarity, warmth and a renewed sense of motivation. We begin to set new goals and a revitalized sense of energy unfurls as the crisp fall air settles around us. Embracing the transitional season of Late Summer in order to enter the winter months with finesse is an integral aspect of maintaining physical and mental well being in daily living.
Tracy A. Marciano, MS, BA, CMTHolistic Health Practitioner affiliated with Inner Ventures Sources
Hass, Dr. Elson M. (2003) Staying Healthy with the Seasons. California: Ten Speed Canada
Krishan, Shubhra. (2003) Essential Ayurveda. What it is and What is Can do for You. Canada: Publishers Group West
Ody, Penelope. (2001) The Holistic Herbal Directory. A Directory of Herbal Remedies for Everyday Health Problems. London: The Ivy Press Limited