|attribute: Ben Gamble
In TCM a fifth season exists to correspond with the fifth element of Earth. This season is called Late summer, or Indian summer, and marks a transition period between the last of the yang seasons, Summer, and the first of the yin seasons, Fall. It is a season to take pause, a middle ground, a period of harmony and becoming centered again. The Earth has a strong influence at this time as it also does during the shorter neutral periods that occur in the days around the two equinoxes and two solstices (total of 15 days around each), when the light pattern of the Sun, our celestial center, changes.
These seasonal interchanges, as well as Late summer, are occasions to think of foods that represent the center: sweet in taste, yellow or orange in color, round in shape. Think of chestnuts, filberts, apricots, cantaloupe melon, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, corn, cabbage, garbanzo beans, soybeans, rice, millet, amaranth. Prepare food simply and pay attention to food combining. Use moderation as always, even with cooking methods. During a time of transition the body is more vulnerable to disharmony and illness. It is the ideal time to let the digestive system rest by using milder tastes in food and even taking a short fast according to body requirements. Traditionally a one to three day vegetable or fruit fast at the beginning of spring and summer; and a single grain fast at the transitions to fall and winter can be helpful to return the body back to center.
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