A solar term is a period of about two weeks and is based on the sun’s position in the zodiac. Solar terms form the traditional Chinese calendar system. The calendar follows the ancient Chinese belief that living in accordance with nature will enable one to live a harmonious life. This article series explores each of the year’s 24 solar terms, offering guidance on how to best navigate the season.
Solar Term: ‘End of Heat’
2022 Dates: Aug. 23–Sept. 6
“End of Heat” is the 14th solar term. It signifies the end of the hot season, and begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 150 degrees; the period ends when it reaches the longitude of 165 degrees.
Although the sun has moved further away from the Earth, the heat accumulated within the planet remains plentiful. So according to the folk saying in Chinese, “People will still sweat for 18 days after the arrival of the ‘End of Heat.’”
According to Chinese tradition, three things happen in this solar term: Eagles display and worship the birds they’ve captured before they eat them; Heaven and Earth begin to withdraw, alluding to the end of summer; and grains become ripe.
Symbolically, it’s the end of a season, and Mother Nature is turning a new page.
“When the weather becomes cool, it is good autumn” is a famous poem in China, reflecting both the external world and our minds, which is the inner world of an individual. At this time of year, we’ve just passed the hottest weather, and as we are calming down, we can relax, refresh, and anticipate the harvest that’s around the corner.
This is the time to review and reflect on all the hard work we’ve done for our health early in the year and what outcome it has produced for us. Our body is preparing to turn toward yin and away from yang with the help of the rich yields and produce from all of the seedlings we started earlier.
Some people may experience dry and irritated skin or dry hair, and some might even suffer from constipation. That’s because the long heat of summer has made our body “toasted,” both internally and externally. Yin energy is naturally mild and slow to come out, so there may be a gap or disconnection between yang and yin, as the yang energy may have become too dominant.
Living in Harmony With the ‘End of Heat’
Taking good care of stomach and spleen: Among the 12 energy channels, the organs to focus on during this term are the stomach and spleen. What a wonderful arrangement that we can eat plenty of food at this time without feeling guilty! The key is to select the right cooking method, the right seasoning, and the right types of food.
Avoid icy drinks or food: The stomach is like the roots of a plant—it processes the food to support our bodies.
As our body still holds a lot of the heat from the summer, we might feel hot and thirsty and tend to consume a lot of cold drinks. When we consume low-temperature drinks or food, we might feel very cool and nice as the temperature drops inside our overheated bodies.
But right after this, according to Chinese medicine, the warm blood and energy from the surface of our body will travel to our organs to warm them up, so the skin will then cool and close our pores. Once our pores close, the heat and sweat will be blocked inside our body and may cause inflammation and congestion inside.
Take a short nap during midday, and go to bed before 11 p.m.: Autumn, or more precisely, the End of Heat solar term, is a critical transition time for our body to turn from yang to yin, based on seasonal transition.
There are two chances daily for our bodies to transit between yin and yang: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. If our body can rest well during those times, we are bound to have our two energy channels stay in harmony.
Avoid using air conditioning: A lot of people rely heavily on air conditioners in summer, and heaters in winter. Give your lungs, skin, and whole body a nice break in between by switching them off in autumn. You will find your natural qi energy restores better when you let your body regain its natural rhythm and vitality by just inhaling clean, natural air.
Meditation is highly recommended: For those who might not have the right conditions to sleep during midday, a short meditation is beneficial for anyone, especially the elderly. The tranquility of meditation can help take care of their hearts. It’s also helpful for anyone who tends to have skin irritations or fluid retention. In other words, meditation is an excellent exercise to try in autumn.
Seasonal Foods and Scents
Food to Eat: Enjoy light tea, pear, apple, grape, orange, grapefruit, honey melon, celery, seaweed, cucumber, sesame, soy milk, almond milk, oatmeal milk, lukewarm water, honey, and fresh-squeezed juice—drink small portions frequently. Eat plenty of spinach and bell pepper, plus all the root vegetables such as yam, taro, carrots, beets, and potatoes. Avoid spices such as peppers, garlic, chili, ginger, shallot, leek, anise seed, and fennel.
Essential Oils: Chamomile, nutmeg, cardamom, orange sweet, caraway, dill, ginger, patchouli, melissa, and sweet fennel. The use of ginger and fennel externally produces different results than internal consumption.