My blogs get posted every fortnight, so I know a lot can change weather wise in good old norn iron, but the weather right now… has been amazing! So I feel very much encouraged to write about summer and the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) thoughts on this beautiful season.
Summer is very ‘yang’ in nature…. Full of energy, movement and activity. It is ruled by the ‘fire’ element, life and energies are at their peak! It is a time for joy, growth, expansion, light, and abundance and is the manifestation of all we can have cultivating through spring.
When the weather plays ball here, people are in such good form and we are a lot more naturally drawn to be outdoors and more active, something we have probably been longing for on those colder, darker days of winter. Life is full of energy and our bodies vitality is at its peak. It’s a great time to cultivate our yang energy (fire), so embrace these sunny days, drink in the heat and warm your bones!
In TCM the heart, mind and spirit are ruled by the fire element, so priority should be given to these important aspects of ourselves in the summer season.
In an ideal world, when our ‘heart energy’ is beautifully balanced our work, play and relationships should be filled with joy and should instill in us a feeling of happiness and delight. We should live our lives and go about our daily activities with joy, passion and laughter.
Physically, when we are properly balanced, the heart circulates oxygen rich blood throughout the body. The mind is calm and we sleep deeply and wake rested. If we lack joy (which can manifest in depression) or even have an excess of joy (mania or manic behaviour), feel overly nervous, suffer from insomnia, heartburn, confusion, red complexion, poor memory or speech problems; these are usually tell tale signs that the heart is not balanced.
Emotionally, because the heart is connected to our spirits, summer is the best time to heal emotional wounds that we have carried with us from our past. Healing these wounds frees up space that we can fill with love, joy and happiness and ensures that we will not carry our old hurt with us into the future.
So, if a few of those imbalances have rang true with you, here are a few tips to help you make the most of the summer season and get your heart energy a little more balanced;
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids… try to drink room temperature or warmer
- Wake up earlier in the morning and get more of the suns nourishment packed in to your day
- Go to bed later in the evening and get out of the ‘hibernation’ stage of winter
- Rest at midday – in an ideal world. (I find myself rolling my eyes writing this one, ha!)
- Refrain from anger, keep calm and even-tempered – anger causes and exacerbates heat!
- Eat ‘cooling’ foods which help balance the heat of summer
‘Cooling’ foods can clear heat, reduce toxins and help regenerate the body fluids. Normally in autumn/winter time TCM would advise to eat these in moderation as they can cause damp in the body, but if the sun is shining it’s an excellent way to balance, cool and hydrate the body. Generally most vegetables and fruits are cooling and eating them raw makes them cooler still, many seafoods are cooling in nature too.
Living in harmony with the seasons is at the core of Traditional Chinese wisdom. It is based on living in harmony with nature and your environment. TCM is also a system that is rooted in prevention. Food is medicine and the ancient Chinese used food and its healing properties to build up the body when deficient, cleanse it when toxic, and release it when in excess. I see myself addressing these excess and deficient patterns in my acupuncture clinic daily as so many of us do not connect how we live with how we feel and struggle then physically and mentally with the imbalance this throws us into .
I am certainly not coming from a perspective of having it all sussed out, and I struggle with this balance in lots of different ways. But I see how clear and simple it could / should be so this is certainly something I would like to address more and more in my own and my families lives. Ideally, living with these basic principles of eating with the seasons, and an awareness of the organs associated with each phase and their emotions, we can all stay healthy, strengthen our bodies, minds and spirits and live long, happy healthy lives.