Seasonal Living: Summer
Welcome to Summer! Even though we’ve been enjoying the warm weather for a little while now, the time is truly neigh for beach adventures. I for one am truly getting sandy and heading outdoors as much as possible to frolic in the waves. I’m not much of a swimmer but there is definitely something fantastic about paddling around in the surf and pretending to be a mermaid.
In Chinese Medicine we think of the body as a small version of the universe around us. As the seasons change, so should we. Humans should be adaptable; to flow with the seasons is to live in harmony. By doing this, we should avoid illness. Summer is a time to laugh, embellish in life, enjoy yourself and connect with those around you. There is such delight to be found in the warm weather and long days. You can be outside for hours, catch up with friends, play with the kids and generally just enjoy the world around you.
What happens to our Qi in summer?
Summer is the season of the FIRE element, its organ is the HEART, its flavor is BITTER and its Qi Movement is UPWARDS and OUTWARDS. This is a time of GROWTH, MANIFESTATION and CONNECTION. Did you know that lots of plants require fire to germinate and reproduce? Imagine yourself as a plant. After the beginning of upward Qi movement in Spring where we begin to VISUALISE and GROW, Summer is the time to fully embrace our PASSIONS and DREAMS. The Summer months are the time of utmost Yang and therefore the most appropriate time to engage in thoughtful action. This makes it quite special in terms of personal growth and internal journies.
The Fire Organ – the Heart
In Chinese Medicine the HEART is considered the Emperor of the organs – it is the highest and most important of the organs and it’s function is what determines your overall bodily constitution. When your Fire organs are balanced your emotional state should be joyful and enthusiastic yet controlled, your circulation should be excellent with your hands and feet always being warm. The Heart also houses the SHEN – a concept that is loosely translated as our mind and spirit, or our mental and emotional being. The Shen is what gives our eyes their sparkle and our personalities the sense of joy that we experience when we are happy. It is also what allows us to sleep deeply by settling into the Blood at night.
If your Heart becomes unsettled or dysfunctional then the body will suffer from an overall lack of strength. You will most likely experience physical discomforts such as high blood pressure, palpitations and insomnia. Your emotions will also become confused with a decrease in mental clarity and an increase in anxiety, despair and controlling tendencies. Your body temperature will also not self-regulate as well as it should and you may find yourself over-heating and becoming restless or becoming cold and withdrawing. If you tend towards these problems, they can become heightened in Summer as your Qi naturally tries to move more but comes into contact with internal deficiencies.
As Summer is the time of the Heart organ it is the perfect time to make a few small changes so that you can avoid these kinds of Heart deficiency issues and make the most of the magnificent Summer months!
Emotional Health in Summer – Manifest your Dreams
The Qi of the summer months is constant growth – your Qi and the environmental Qi is moving UPWARDS and OUTWARDS constantly. Due to this, the main themes of the season tend to revolve around
WARMTH GROWTH MANIFESTATION
What does that mean? Basically, after the Spring months when we began to visualize the things we wanted to create in life, NOW is the time to begin creating them. The days are longer and warmer and we have the energy (due to the increase in environmental Yang) to make these dreams and ideas a reality. It is super important to decide exactly what DREAMS you would like to MANIFEST before figuring out what steps need to happen to make these dreams a reality. The Fire element is all about heat – if you’re lukewarm or less than super-enthused about these dreams then they’re unlikely to get off the ground. On the flip side, if you spend all your time on talking, planning, exploring ideas you may burn yourself out too quickly. Treat yourself like a slow-burning fire. Make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel (both emotional and physical nourishment) to keep a good slow burn going all summer.
The Fire months are a time to discover our internal boundaries around CONTROL. There is a paradox in the summer months - to manifest our wishes and grow we must learn to control ourselves and be disciplined to put ourselves on the correct path. However, we must also relinquish control of what the things that are outside of us – the things that we cannot control.
The Heart also rules our speech and gives us our ability to express ourselves properly. We can damage our Heart Qi by expressing ourselves through negative or excessive speech. The Summer months are a time where communication is key – it’s best to express yourself, communicate with your partner and loved ones and add more warmth into your relationships with people. This leads into our ability to develop COMPASSION and our ability to engage with others and their world, as well as our ability to understand other points of view.
Finally, because the Heart and the Shen are connected, Summer is the best time to HEAL PAST HURTS that we have carried with us from the previous year. By processing our previous emotional injuries and letting them go we open up space in our hearts for joy, compassion and more positive future experiences.
Phew. That’s a lot to think about. Basically – to create the life that we want it’s important to combine the JOY of self-expression and creation with the exercise of CONTROL and precision that is required for success.
Summer Health Tips
SLEEP - Make sure you’re getting restful sleep. This means getting to bed by 11pm (10pm would be great if possible) and prioritizing 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
WAKE UP EARLY – rising with the sun not only helps us to absorb more of its nourishing Yang waves but also sets our circadian rhythms. It also means that you get the most out of the day. As the days are longer you can also go to bed a little bit later, giving you more hours in the day to achieve your goals.
HYDRATION – since we begin to sweat more in the heat, it’s important to replenish our body fluids (Jin Ye) with plenty of moisture-filled foods. Things like cucumbers and watermelons are perfect! Drink adequate water in small sips – not too much that you need to rush to the bathroom, but enough to stop you from feeling thirsty.
COOL OCEAN WATERS – make sure to keep your showers on the cooler side or skin-temperature. If you can, have a delightful swim in the ocean to help keep you cool.
ACUPUNCTURE – Acupuncture is an amazing and gentle way to even out any ‘stuck bits’ in the body – be it physical, emotional or energetic. If you’re feeling sick, stuck, sad or just plain confused, see your local acupuncturist for a seasonal tune-up. You might find that while you’re doing all the above things in the right way a good Acupuncture session or two can really help to turn things around. There are also some fantastic herbal formulas that might be up your ally too.
Summer is all about abundance. There are so many available fruits and vegetables – we are super lucky to have a multitude of choices when it comes to what we want to eat. In saying that though, it is important to stay cool and hydrated in the hotter months and make sure that we preserve our Yang.
EAT LIGHT AND FRESH – Eat lightly during this time. As the Summer is so hot, our bodies should be increasingly more Yang with the surrounding environment. This means that our bodies should be strong enough to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. In saying that, make sure to maintain a ration of 50:50 raw:cooked foods, and definitely nothing cold (i.e. iced water). We want to maintain and strengthen our digestive Yang by nourishing it – not dampening it with raw and cold foods.
ANYTHING RED – capsicums, red onions, tomatoes, stone fruits, watermelon, berries, radishes and radicchio are all great options for a balanced Summer diet. Red vegetables tend to have a higher amount of lycopene – an antioxidant that helps to keep our hearts healthy!
ANYTHING BITTER – asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, radish, capsicum, basil, dill, cumin, coriander and chili are all bitter flavours. Bitter foods help to clear excess Heat from the body, thereby balancing the external Yang of Summer with any excess Heat that may build up in your body.
FOODS TO AVOID – even though this is the time of utmost Yang, anything Cold and Sweet can damage your body’s stores of Yang and clog up your digestive organs. So, try to keep ice cream and milkshakes to a minimum – perhaps once per week. And definitely stay away if you find you get a sore tummy or bloating afterwards. Instead you could always have a fresh berry smoothie. Yummo!
There you go. I hope all of that has been super helpful for you. If you would like any further information, or you have any questions please feel free to call me on 0408 402 512 or email me at email@example.com.
Welcome to Summer!
PLEASE NOTE: In saying all of this, its super important to listen to your body. What does it want? What is it telling you? Is it saying that you need something in particular? It’s really important to gather information to make the choices that are important for you and your body. This information isn’t personal medical advice – rather it’s a guideline on ways that could help you to live a healthier, happier lifestyle. It is always wise to consult with a qualified health practitioner before starting any new herbs, supplements or dietary and lifestyle programs.