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Seasonal crossroads are times of transformation in the inner and outer worlds.

Adams Community Garden is an oasis of quiet tucked back from Cornell Road, a busy commuter thoroughfare between the City of Portland and its western suburbs. The Garden lies in the embrace of Forest Park, a miles-long wooded area within the City limits. In this peaceful, sylvan setting, I tend a small vegetable plot, and pay attention as the seasons change in both the garden and the surrounding woods. Peas, arugula, spinach, lettuce, mustard greens. An exceptionally cool, wet Spring has held back the tomatoes, but benefited the greens. Mid-June, the air is still cool and damp. Oregon folk wisdom has it that Summer in western Oregon doesn’t start until the Fourth of July. Looking more deeply at the woods and land around me, I see something different. Despite the cool temperatures, the weedy paths and undergrowth are filling in and taking on a lush, full look. Berry bushes are blooming and beginning to set fruit. The humid smell of plant life hangs in the air. All this tells me that Summer, and the Fire Element, are not far away. Spring, and the Wood Element, are taking a slow leave. In the West, we follow the solar calendar and regard the Solstice as the “official” first day of Summer. The “real” first day of Summer is found by opening our senses to nature right where we are. Each season and each place has its own signature that says “Summer is here” – the croaking of frogs in the pond, the smell of ripe berries, the flash of fire flies in the night meadow.
Five Element Acupuncture treatment changes with the seasons.

The human body/mind/spirit also changes with the seasons, and Five Element acupuncture treatment changes accordingly. In the energetic interplay of Yin/Yang, Spring and Summer are the seasons of rising Yang. Energy moves upward and outward in Spring. Typically, people become more active and feel more energetic and resilient as the season progresses. As Spring transitions to Summer, the increasing Yang energy begins to mature and reach its fulfillment. Summer is a time when people are typically out and about, taking on a lot of activities, and enjoying the long days and sunshine. These are all hallmarks of the Fire Element.

Seasonal and Elemental shifts are energetic crossroads that bring a transformation to both the outer and the inner world. They are not seamless, smooth and invisible. Each Element has its distinct qualities, and we may feel turbulence moving from one to the next. Like reaching a crossroads on a journey, we notice the change in our body/mind/spirit. Crossroads may also be places where we face choices. Clinically, I often see people struggle or even reach crises as the body/mind/spirit responds to seasonal and Elemental transitions. There may be a few days or a week in my practice when nearly every client seems to come in with significant problems. One person may complain of a sudden recurrence of migraines that she hasn’t had in years. Another may finally realize it is time to leave the job she dislikes. Imbalances and disharmonies among the acupuncture meridians and the Officials (the entities governing our energy system) tend to come to the surface when the cosmos is in turmoil. If the Fire Element in nature is struggling to take hold, is it surprising that the Fire official within us might struggle, too?

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