Summer and the Fire Element
Summer is upon us with its full Fire and, for those of us who are constitutionally drawn to that element, it is a wonderful thing. Fire people love connecting, love activity (especially social gatherings), and are more joyful, energetic and inspired in the warmer season. If your Fire Element is deficient, you may feel like you are dragging through your days, and may feel like withdrawing and taking time for yourself rather than engaging with others. For those who are normally outgoing and active with a healthy Fire constitution, the summer is an easy time to overdo and burn out. Tuning into the turning of the seasons means staying aware of your own needs and tendencies, and doing those things that bring you into balance, so that you can enjoy the gifts of each season.
The Healthy Heart
One of the organs of the Fire Element, the summer season, is the Heart. So summer is a good time to think about heart health. Circulation, oxygenation, exercise, and activity are all important. Sleep is an activity associated with the Heart, so it is important to get adequate rest, even though it is sometimes tempting to burn the candle at both ends with the long light filled days and the opportunities for social interaction. Connection with others is one of the functions of a healthy Fire Element, so opening your heart, and reaching out, engaging, and interacting are all probably calling to you now. This is a good time to give yourself extra permission to take time to socialize. If you didn’t get that closet cleaned out in the spring, maybe it can wait. Go to the picnic instead. If you normally hold yourself to a tight schedule or don’t go out of your comfort zone to connect with people you encounter, push yourself a bit to experience more spontaneity. Say hello with a smile to someone you don’t know well, and see how it feels. This is the time to act on those resolutions to allow more joy and playfulness into your life.
Protecting our Heart while Staying Open
The Heart Protector or Pericardium is another Fire organ in Chinese Medicine. Having a gate that opens and closes appropriately protects the Heart from hurt, loss, and vulnerability, also from over extending with relationships that don’t serve us. We sometimes connect too deeply too quickly and put too much trust into relationships which are not worthy of our trust. Or we consistently attract people into our life who bring us down or require a lot from us. Alternatively we might close ourselves off because of past hurts and not open ourselves to the good that is there for us. The Heart longs to be soft and loving, yet we do need to be discerning. We have to stretch our borders, learn to recover and forgive quickly, build our Heart’s capacity, and at the same time, protect what is most precious and dear to us, nurturing real intimacy with only a few. So many levels of relationship are possible. We have circles of intimacy, and time and experience determine how close we can become. We can stay in positive relationship with almost everyone if we recognize what kind of relationship will serve us. And sometime we have to set a clear boundary and let go of a negative influence.
Forgiveness is the path to greater connection. If you can concentrate on the good that is there, you can enjoy people and not let old resentments fester. We nurture our inner life with our focus, and we can use our inner Fire to burn through those walls we have built around our Heart and let the love shine. If we have one major piece of work in this lifetime, it is to work on loving more!
Joy is the associated emotion of Fire, and we may feel drawn to play more in the summer. If your Fire element is out of balance, you might become exhausted with all the things that there are to do. Or if you have difficulty letting yourself go, or tapping into that well of joy and enthusiasm, if you feel depressed or disconnected, or if you suffer from fatigue, pay special attention to nurturing the Fire within at this time of year. Watch out about overdoing it with exercise on very hot days, be alert to signs of excessive sweating or face flushing, and drink plenty of water. Let yourself fill up with laughter, fun, relaxation, and sweet times with people you enjoy. Joy is often nurtured though creative expression, so sing, dance, play games, laugh, and cultivate the ability to enjoy the moment by tapping into the flow with activities that engage your full attention.
Finding Balance with Water
Spending time near water is a great way to nurture Fire as the two elements have a complimentary relationship. Water reflects our inner world, while our Fire Element determines how we relate externally. Maintaining a balance between these two is especially important during this season when the Fire element can burn so hot. Water can be a controlling, calming force and can help us become aware of those things deep inside us that are longing to be expressed through our outer relationships. The Heart Fire wants to warm the Kidney water while the Kidney steam wants to cool the Heart fire. This circulation of Qi provides the dynamic balance that lets us lead a rich full healthy life, where our inner urges lead us to appropriate choices that are fulfilling and renewing.
Foods for Summer
Cooler foods are appropriate in the summer. Generally Chinese medicine favors warming foods that promote digestion. In summer though, you want to clear any excess heat with more raw foods and salads and cooling foods like watermelon, cucumber, mint, and tofu. At the same time, it is best to avoid the urge to drink iced drinks all day long and instead develop a taste for cool spring water.
Harmony with the Season
The beauty of Chinese medicine is that it promotes harmony. It is up to us to develop awareness about our choices and to see them as part of a natural rhythm, with ebbs and flows. We can enjoy and cultivate those qualities that are natural to the season and avoid excess by staying tuned into how we feel. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to let go of a habit that no longer serves us, or try a new behavior that we want to incorporate into our life. We should use the natural cycles as an indicator for what is really appropriate and remember that balance is a dynamic state, a goal to aim for. We can constantly refine our idea of our own wellbeing. Remember that 5 Element Acupuncture helps you naturally find balance and move through any resistance. Feed your fire, find joy, open your heart, connect, express, forgive…why settle for less!