As we celebrate the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice, we are reminded of the full energetic of the Summer season. Summer time is associated with vacations, warmth, sun, fun, activity, and being out and connecting to others.
The Summer season is associated with the element of Fire. In Chinese Medicine, Fire is viewed as the full expression of Yang energy. The sound associated with Fire is laugh, the emotion is joy, the temperature is heat, and the direction is South. How the fire nature shows up in us is through our complexion, the expression of the Heart through communication, partnership and connection, spontaneity, and the vibrancy of life. In balance, Fire shows up in us as lively, clear communication, charisma, optimism, tenderness, intimacy, and compassion. The heart is at the epicenter of this elemental nature. A clear expression of the heart’s desire and the sovereign connection to the heavens is at the core of the heart’s nature. The fire element is key to the governing of our lives. Without the balance of the heart, nothing in the kingdom (our bodies, mind, spirit) will be able to function in divine order.
Helpful ways to maintain balance during the Summer season is creating a conscious lifestyle. A conscious lifestyle helps maximize the full potential of the season and ease the transition into the warmer weather. Although activity levels tend to be at an all time high, being able to set boundaries and space for introspection and rest is important. Regulating our emotional reactions can create balance. Consistent and rhythmic rest is essential to creating a calm environment for the heart to settle at night. Quality sleep and good sleep hygiene is essential to replenish and restore from daily activities.
Incorporation of bitter and cooling foods in the diet are helpful to regulate the body temperature and prevent an imbalance of the Fire nature within us. Leafy green veggies, dark chocolate, cucumbers, watermelon, summer squash, zucchini and other water soluble foods are great to eat during this time. (Please exercise caution if you are on blood thinning medications or have a bleeding conditions when eating leafy greens vegetables-consult with your physician). Fresh farm produce from CSAs or farm stands are great ways to stay in alignment with what is growing locally and create harmony in the body’s digestive systems. Minimum consumption of fried, barbecued, charred/blackened, processed, red meat and poultry is recommended. These cooking styles and protein sources have a warming thermo-nature. Overconsumption of these items may add too much heat in the body. Make sure to ramp up on your fluid consumption, especially water, this will be key to cooling and rehydrating the body.
Exercise is essential and moving the body can be a wonderful way to release toxins and increase endorphins to elevate mood during this season. Cardio-vascular and weight bearing exercises combined with mindful movements (Tai Chi, Qi Gong,Yoga) are great ways to create balance between activity and rest.
Remember getting out and connecting is key in this energy. Call up those old friends, reconnect with loved ones, and most importantly..have fun. A balance between connection and boundaries is key to avoid seasonal burn out. So go out and play in the sun and enjoy all this season has to offer. Wishing you a joyful and balanced season.
Peace and Blessings,
Dr. Renee McSwain
Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist
Owner, Sagelight Integrative Wellness Center