All The Summer Feels
If young energy is seeded and planted in the spring, then the summer is when that energy rises to its full potential, and we see the elemental power of Fire. By understanding the hottest of all seasons, we can help to balance our own Fire energy. The summer season allows us to give and receive warmth, blossom, and feel all the summer feels.
Stoking The Fire Within
The three months of summer are referred to as a period of luxurious growth. Everything is in bloom and bearing fruit. What happens in nature in the summer also happens in us humans; things come to fruition, and the Earth is full of plenty, life, and a sense of excitement.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the fire element is the spark from which all of life originates. The emotion associated with fire is joy, which, when in balance, represents an overflowing enthusiasm for life. However, an excess of fire can create hyperexcitability and restlessness, and a deficiency can produce a lack of joy.
The Fire element manifests in our body through the heart, the supreme monarch, responsible for maintaining internal peace and harmony. The Heart is attended to by the small intestine, pericardium, and the function known as the triple heater. The small intestine physically separates the pure nutrients from our food and drink and eliminates the waste. Metaphorically, it does the same in our interactions and relationships, allowing us to sort through those that don’t serve us.
The pericardium is the sac that surrounds and protects the heart. It can be seen as the gate to the heart that allows entry to positive energies and bars the entry of negative energies. Not an actual organ, the Triple Heater has no structural counterpart. Its function is to heat and cool the entire system.
Too Much, Too Little
An imbalance in the fire element in your body may show up in several ways. Too little inner fire can exhibit as:
- Chills and numbness of the extremities
- Impaired circulation of blood and bodily fluids
- Poor oxygenation of the blood
- Coughing and nasal congestion
- Sluggish digestion, abdominal pain, and constipation
On the other side, excessive fire can result in:
- Painful inflammation of the joints
- Chronic infections
- Inflamed throat and dryness
- Rashes, hives, or skin eruptions
- Sleep disturbances
- Irregular heartbeat
- Agitated or explosive energy
- Anxiety and irrational fears
- Burning diarrhea or constipation
On an emotional level, the fire element expresses itself as joy and manifests within us as love, laughter, a zest for life, and all the summer feels. When our fire is low, we experience no inner blooming and feel the lack of something to share, be it joy or compassion. When our fire is too much, so too can we be “too much,” as in perpetual clowning around, always laughing or joking, always talking, and being “on.”
We love this analogy from Neil Gumenick: “Just as a healthy plant naturally produces flowers, a healthy person produces a healthy fire. When our fire is healthy, it responds appropriately to meet the tasks at hand. Like a thermostat, it knows when and with whom it can be warm and open, and when and with whom it needs to be more productive.”
Make The Most Of The Season
According to Chinese Medicine (and virtually everyone else!), summertime is time for play and relaxation. To tend your inner fire, be sure to create time each day to de-stress. Longer days and more sunshine make it easier to carve out a regular fun time. Here are some tips on how to keep feeling all the summer feels:
- Make fun a priority. Put it on your calendar in the way of dates, friends, solo adventures, and more. Consider it part of your self-care routine.
- Go outside in the grass barefoot and feel the textures that greet your feet. Listen to the outdoor sounds of the birds and crickets, or children playing.
- Smell the flowers, the smoking bbq, the sea spray, and cotton candy.
- Eat cooling foods and eat slowly. Enjoy the vibrant flavors of the vegetables and fruits in season. Other cooling foods include salads, sprouts (mung, soy, alfalfa), fruit (specifically apples, watermelon, lemon, lime), cucumber, tofu, and flower leaf teas (mint, chamomile). The taste associated with Fire is bitter, so try to include bitter greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. It may seem crazy, but hot-flavored spices are also good in the warmest weather. They bring body heat to the surface to be eliminated. Red and green hot peppers, cayenne, horseradish, and black pepper are all ideal.
- Heavy foods on hot days cause sluggishness. Foods to avoid or eat less of include meats, eggs, and excessive nuts, seeds, and grains.
- Eating less and lightly on hot, bright days is a natural, healthful, and cooling practice. And, always keep in mind that local, seasonal, and organic are best when possible.
- Trust your intuition. When we know something in our hearts, we are connected to a deeper part of our being. Take time to listen to your inner voice.
- Live your passion. When you find great interest, dive in with your whole heart.
- Drink lots of pure, fresh water and keep hydrated. The sun leaches moisture from your body, so it is important to drink about half your weight in ounces of water every day.
- A healthy heart needs regular exercise. Try to build a sweat, which helps to release toxins and cleanse the body. Get into your body and out of your head.
Now, go have some good ‘ol fashioned summertime fun!
If you are interested in discussing any of these symptoms and how acupuncture and Chinese Medicine may help, schedule your free 15-minute consult.