Harvest Time and the Earth Element

In Chinese Medicine the Law of the Five Elements provides us with a way of diagnosing and treating energetic imbalances that manifest as physical, emotional or mental symptoms by balancing and strengthening the flow of Qi, or life force. Each of the Elements; Earth, Water, Metal, Wood and Fire represent a part of the continuing cycle of energy as it moves and changes in the repetitive patterns of days and nights, seasons and lifetimes. Understanding that each element represents a part of ourselves helps us to work with our own strengths and weaknesses, the inevitability of constant change and to connect with our own unique abilities and destiny.

The Element of Earth is associated with late summer and the time of harvest. The nourishment from a good harvest provides a sense of stability and security for the cold season to come and the seeds for spring and new growth.
The organs and meridians of Earth, the Spleen, Stomach and Pancreas, are responsible for taking in nourishment, assimilating it and distributing it to all parts of the body.

Mother Earth provides us with food, not only for the body but for the mind and spirit as well. The Earth Element is embodied in the earth we stand on and the energy of the mother. A good mother provides our bodies with physical nourishment, our minds with knowledge and stimulation and our spirits with a sense of belonging and the security of unconditional love.

A person whose Earth element is in balance carries a sense of being at home and grounded within herself. She is able to take in food for her body, nourishment for her spirit and ideas and knowledge for her mind. She is able to give comfort and compassion to others. She is secure in the certainty of a good harvest and can share with others.

When the Earth Element is out of balance a person may feel like a child whose mother was absent and whose needs were never cared for. This child will always be crying for attention. She may never learn how to care for herself or others. She may live her life in self absorption, feeling empty inside, always looking for that harvest that never comes. An imbalance could also go the other way where a person obsessively takes care of others, ignoring her own needs to the detriment of her health and happiness.

An Earth imbalance expressed on the physical level can be seen as excessive overeating or anorexia. Unable to believe in the security of a good harvest a person may eat to the point of obesity. Another person may deny themselves completely unable to take any nourishment in.
The process of digestion can become stagnant causing the many symptoms of indigestion and malnutrition because the Earth energy is unable to process and assimilate food.

The same can happen on a mental level when a person can no longer take in or process ideas or emotions. When there is no harvest we worry about surviving the winter to come. There is no sense of safety and people become anxious and obsessively worry about having enough of anything; food, comfort or love.

When encountering a patient whose Earth is out of balance a 5 Element acupuncturist may use a point like Stomach 40 – Abundant Splendor. This point reconnects a person with their sense of the Earths abundance, the fullness of the harvest and the ability to see the riches within.

Another point used might be Stomach 23 – Great Oneness. This point brings together a fractured self by uniting body, mind and spirit. By synchronizing all 3 it allows a person to move forward.

The power of the Earth Element is its ability to take all that is nourishing in life and transform it into words, thoughts and actions that serve self and others in integrity and in balance.
When Earth is strong the spirit is rooted and grounds the energy of the other elements at the center. This provides a sense of equanimity and peacefulness that makes it easier to cope with the constant changes of life.