The Elements of Natural Attunement

Sunset- Autum season
Migrating birds are naturally attuned to the seasons and elements.

The creation and arrangement of the Five Element is a unique system, produced by ancient Chinese sages, that helps us to understand the limitless connections that affect every aspect of life in man and his environment. To understand the five elements and the way they operate, helps us to be aware of how these boundless energies of nature relate to the human body and the person as a whole. Each of the five elements are linked with internal organs, body parts and emotions of the human body/soul. The elements in nature have further connection to us in terms of seasons and their influence, color, taste, direction and flavors of food. See the Five Element Chart

If we want to use food as medicine for dietary healing, we need only a working knowledge of a few but important principles of seasonal correspondences and the preparation of food according to the seasons.

Seasonal Attunement

The ancient Chinese believed that the seasons had a profound effect on human growth and well being over the cyclic effects of time. And if that’s not enough, we are also influenced by climatic changes and should try to live in accordance with them as well. But knowing how to prepare foods according to the seasons keeps our bodies functioning better. Intuitively choosing foods that are both in harmony with the seasons and good for our particular body type can be easily done when the person is balanced. Unfortunately many of us have repressed our instinctual awareness and don’t always make the correct food choices. This is partially because people like to eat for pleasure and tend to choose the foods hey most enjoy. Only when we develop practices that bring us in harmony with Nature do we begin to hear our inner voice more clearly. These practices gradually become “second nature “ so over time we can learn to trust our intuition again and confidently “know” what is correct for us at any given time.

To seasonally attune to summer, for example one must become more yang or expansive, like the summer energy, by using more (but not excessive amounts of) hot spices. This causes cooling through opening the pores and sweating. This is different from the specific therapeutic use of bitter herbs that cool over-heated conditions that can occur in the organs.

Spring is a time of new beginning it is a time to raise early with the sun and “seize the day”. It is a good time to engage in yang activities, such as taking brisk walks that emulate the ascending and active nature of spring. In spring, we naturally eat less or even fast to cleanse the body of the fat and heavy foods of winter. The spring diet should consist of a lighter diet of young plants, fresh greens, bean sprouts and other cereal grasses. Heavy foods taken in spring tend to clog the liver (the organ that correspond with Spring), resulting in fevers and allergies. Salty foods such as soy sauce or sodium rich and fatty meats are also best limited during the spring season. The thermal quality of sweet and pungent foods has an expansive and rising quality is harmonious with this time of year. Here is a partial list of spring herbs and foods; basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill and bay leaf. Most of the complex carbohydrates such as grains, legumes and seed primarily are sweet in flavor and increase in sweetness when sprouted. Other vegetables from the spring garden include young beets, carrots and other sweet starchy vegetables like snap peas and radishes. In spring, it is best to cook foods for a shorter time but at higher temperatures. In this way, the food is not over- cooked and retains the thermal nature and healing properties of the food. Light steaming with water or minimal steaming is ideal.basket of spring vegtables

 

“The sages follow the laws of Nature and therefore their bodies are free o f strange diseases. They do not lose any of their natural functions and their spirit of life is never exhausted. “– Inner Classic

 

Living a life of balance

Nearly everything in the known world is composed of and affected by two antagonistic but complimentary energies. “Yin” and “yang” energies are two opposing forces found in everything from food to physics.  Yang  is an energy that is electric and active in nature and its opposite, Yin energy has a passive nature that has a magnetic quality. These two forces have been operating behind the scenes from the beginning of time and are always in constant ebb and flow, always moving and continuously transforming each other and us in a number of ways.

The two energies affect our physical bodies and are essential to all life in our natural world. But this duality can be  a constant source of stress for us and our ability to balance the two energies can mean the difference between mental peace, physical health and spiritual harmony or spiritual disharmony,  physical stress or mental anguish. When these two forces are balanced in the body there is little or no stress and the body is in a state of healing.

A life of balance is a life worth living

It may seem like an impossible task balancing the forces of the universe as if we don’ balance chi wih aromatherapyt have enough to do already! But a life of balance is a life worth living because with a little effort it is possible to correct imbalances in your body by using whole foods and herbs as medicine which can lead to better physical health, mental focus and emotional calmness. The improper flow of yin and yang in the body leads to blocked energy in the organs which over time can lead to many health problems. Learning to correctly balance the body’s bio- energy or Chi with food and herbs will lead to a better functioning body and a peaceful mind.

Chi balancing and building principles can not only help you take control of the health but it can help you to manifest the positive flow of abundance from the universe which is always present and available to everyone and in your daily life. Our chi building information (as I have learned it from the orient) will help you understand how to balance the energies within the body and without. Blocked chi or energy in our environment can also affect us in a less than positive way. There are also easy but little known ways to correct the flow of energy or chi in your home, office, yard and help you to cultivate unobstructed energy and abundance flowing into your life. So please check back for all things chi.

Whole Food As Medicine- Nuts and Seeds

Here is partial list of nuts and seeds is presented as a part of the Whole Foods as Medicine Series. These tasty nuts and their rich oils can be used in cooking, salads, dressings, rice dishes etc. and offer amazing healing properties and health benefits.

Almonds

Almonds are prized above all nuts as for their chi building ability, strengthening intellect, reproductive chi and spirituality.  AlAssorted Nutsmonds are slightly warming with a sweet flavor and have a beneficial alkalizing effect on the blood.  Eaten raw they help remove stagnant chi in the lungs, alleviates cough and resolves phlegm.  Almonds have lubricating property and are beneficial in conditions of dryness of the lung or colon. This food is useful in treating constipation, dry cough, asthma or shortness of breath due to insufficient kidney yang.

Black Sesame Seeds

Black Sesame Seed are neutral in thermal nature and sweet in flavor and is used for fortifying the yin fluids of the liver and kidneys.  Eating them strengthens all five of the yin organs – heart, liver, kidney, spleen –pancreas and lungs.  This is a wonderful food and acts as tonic for the whole body.  Used to relieve rheumatism by relieving wind obstruction.  Relieves many symptoms including constipation, dry cough, and blurry vision, blood in urine, back ache, stiff joints, headache, numbness or stroke caused by deficient blood yin.  Noted to darken premature graying hair.  Beneficial to elderly individuals for treating wasting conditions and nutrient deficiency.

Coconut

The coconut meat and liquid or “milk” has a warming nature and a sweet flavor. It is a strengthening tonic for the heart. It is used for weakness and malnutrition. Coconut is a good source of saturated fat for vegetarians but less desirable for individuals that may already have a diet high in saturated animal fats, such as pork, eggs and dairy. Clears summer heat, relieves thirst and is useful in treating edema, fever, and diabetes or heart weakness.

Flax Seed

Neutral in heat a nature and sweet in flavor, the flax seed has mucilage properties which mean it helps reduce inflammation and pain. It balances the spleen- pancreas chi and colon chi.  Flax seed has the highest source of Omega 3 fatty acids which is valuable in strengthening the protective chi found in the immune system. Cleanses the heart and arteries and is useful in many degenerative conditions.

Peanuts

Peanuts have warming nature and a sweet flavor. Peanuts harmonize the stomach, lubricate the intestines and strengthen the lung and spleen- pancreas chi. Peanuts are said to increase mother’s milk by roasting and adding them to rice or millet.  Overweight individuals or individuals with damp conditions should avoid eating the peanut as it has a tendency to slow the metabolism.  Eaten moderately, peanuts can be most beneficial to people with a fast metabolism and can be eaten to build strength and endurance.  Commercially grown peanuts are sprayed with chemical pesticides and grown in soil laden with synthetic fertilizers. The unhealthy peanut can develop a fungus known as aflaxotoxin. This carcinogenic substance is responsible for many peanut allergies and not necessarily the peanut itself.  It is therefore best to use organic peanuts and peanut butter as this will reduce chemical residues which also increase the peanut’s resistance to the toxic fungus.  As we can see, it’s also extremely important in many cases, for our food to be in healthy condition before we eat it!

Pistachios

The pistachio is neutral, that is, not cooling or warming in nature with a sweet, bitter and slightly sour flavor. The raw pistachio is considered to be an important tonic for the whole body.  They are commonly available in roasted and salted form; however they should not be eaten this way if used for healing.  Individuals that are overweight or have damp conditions should especially avoid the salted variety but can enjoy them raw or lightly toasted with no salt. Suitable as a healing food for most every type, this nut has healing benefits that purifies the blood strengthens the liver, kidney and colon chi.

Pumpkins and Squash Seeds

These seeds are also neutral in their thermal nature and both sweet and bittier in flavor. They are a valuable source of zinc, trace minerals and Omega 3 fatty acids. These seeds have diuretic properties that can help the body get rid of excess water and vermifuge properties that expel parasites.  Pumpkin seeds can be eaten for nausea,  difficulty or scant urination, strengthen prostate function,impotence and strengthen spleen – pancreas chi.

Walnuts

walnutsThe warming nature and sweet flavor of the walnut can b eaten to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.  Perhaps this is due to the large percentage of Omega 3 fatty acid in its oil. It is nourishing to brain and kidney chi. Relieves dry cough and constipation. Used to treat cold conditions, aversion to cold, weak knees, painful back and bladder imbalances. Walnuts nourishes the kidneys, enrich kidney yang which is important for a well balanced body and overall good health.

(Lu, 1986)