The Pause Between Breaths

The Pause Between Breaths

Have you felt the weather shift recently?  One of the things I love about Chinese five element philosophy is the concept of five seasons. The time of the transition to the fifth season – late summer – varies a bit from place to place, but it’s happened here in the Mountain West.  The nights have taken on a certain crispness, and even though we still have plenty of hot days ahead of us, we’ve moved from the Fire season to the Earth season.

Spring  (ruled by the Wood element in Chinese philosophy) is the beginning of the expansive portion of the year.  We are released from winter’s grip and new life emerges everywhere. In summer, this expansion reaches its peak. Flowers are open everywhere, our pores are open from the heat, and communion – between pollinators and flowers, between sun-drunk humans – is in the air.

The Earth season, late summer, is the pivot, the threshold between summer’s expansion and the contraction that will begin in the fall. It’s like the pause between a deep inhale and the exhale. Have you ever focused on this timeless moment between filling and emptying your lungs? There’s a specialness there – a gap between thoughts, a respite from action – that’s worth savoring. And so is this pivotal fifth season.

Before we send our kids back to school, before we close our windows, before we cover the grill and take in the lawn furniture, the trajectory of Nature at this time prompts us to pause in the stillness of our center. We’ve drawn in close to the sun, we’ve grown, and now we’re meant to harvest, digest, and celebrate what we’ve been through before turning inward and letting it go. So, before you start shopping for backpacks and pencils and jackets, I encourage you to take the next week or so to center yourself, imagine you are intentionally aligning with the natural world, and relish the expansive journey of the past spring and summer.

Be well,

Dr. Peter Borten

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