Over this past summer, I really enjoyed watching the PBS special commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. Although as dramatic as it was to watch that first moon walk, there was another moment that really captured my heart. It was hearing the awe expressed by the Apollo 8 astronauts when they first saw the earth rise in the sky from their vantage point in space:
William Anders: Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There's the Earth coming up. Wow, that's just………. that’s so pretty.
James Lovell: Oh man, that's great!
The photo they captured known as “earth rise” has been one of the most influential environmental photographs ever taken and is often considered to be what sparked the modern-day, environmental movement. William Anders, the astronaut who took the shot explained, "We set out to explore the moon and instead discovered the Earth.” The beauty of the earth captured in that photo with all its swirling blue water, should serve as a reminder to all of us of how lucky we are to call this exceptional planet our home.
Unfortunately, today we are seeing a very different image of the earth from space, one that shows the vast amount of smoke emanating from the fires in the Amazon. This is an unprecedented catastrophe that will have long lasting effects for all of us. It is hard not to feel hopeless at times. However, we should take our cue from the earth itself because no matter how much damage we humans inflict, the earth continues to persevere in its attempts to renew itself and provide us with a beautiful, life-sustaining home. The earth serves as an enduring symbol of nurturance, patience and perseverance. We could all stand to be a little more earth-like from time to time.
According to Chinese Medicine, we have arrived at the earth time of the year, a unique "5th season" that occurs after yang energy has peaked during the spring and summer and prior to the Yin phase of the year starting in autumn. Earth energy is all about balance and contentment and provides a stabilizing force during times of transition. When our Earth Chi is strong, we feel grounded and at ease and are able to appreciate living in the present moment. When are earth Chi is weak, the mind is unsettled and consumed with worry. This can show up in the body as digestive issues, over or under eating and general dullness & lethargy.
Yin yoga can help strengthen and balance your earth chi by using specific poses that target the meridians and organs governed by earth (the stomach & spleen). The practice helps to mobilize stuck chi, remove energy blockages and strengthen the quality of our vital energy. Earth chi is also enhanced through meditation which helps to ground us in the present moment and quiet the voices of worry and anxiety. The key to strong, vibrant earth chi is feeling at home in your body and in your life. A well rounded life style that includes nourishing food, yoga and mediation can keep you balanced and content as we transition from summer to fall.