Staying Healthy in Summer
At Oriental Balance we believe that a healthy life requires us to live in balance with nature. When it comes to seasons it’s important to understand the character of the season to leverage its force and minimize imbalances.
The Nature of Summer
• Element – Fire
• Color – Red
• Nature – Yang
• Direction – South
• Energy Flow – Spreading Outward
• Emotion – Joy
• Organs – Heart & Small Intestine
• Taste – Bitter
Summer – Season of Yang
Summer is a Yang season, a time for expansion, with the energy moving up and out with a lively brightness. Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends cultivating Yang energy in spring and summer, whilst protecting Yin energy in autumn and winter. Summer is characterized as a time when the body undergoes vigorous metabolic (body energy) processes.
According to the 5-Elements Theory of Chinese Medicine, summer belongs to fire, which is an element characterized by high levels of activity and Yang energy; a time of heat, outgoingness, and moving outward in nature and in our lives. In human anatomy, the heart, mind, and spirit are ruled by the fire element, so priority is given to nourishing these facets of one’s being for staying healthy in summer. It is to these that we will pay attention to in this post.
The Organs of Summer : Heart & Small Intestine
The heart’s main function is to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. In Chinese medicine mental activity is associated with the heart, making this organ central to many psychological aspects of our being including our memory, thought processes, emotional well-being, and consciousness. This is a time to nourish and pacify our spirits, and to realize our life’s greatest potential as we find joy in our hot summer days and warm summer nights.
Managing Internal Heat
During the summer it is important to regulate heat in the body, not allowing the body to cool down excessively. We are often tempted to consume cooling drinks and foods (especially ice cream!), however such things can have a cooling effect on important organs such as the kidneys, which regulate the Yang energy, our crucial energy in summer, in the body. It is for these reasons that we should try to keep cool naturally by consuming seasonal cooling foods, resting during the hottest periods of the day and not exposing ourselves to the sun directly.
When the fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound.
When the fire element is imbalanced, we may either lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (mania). Indicators of an imbalance in the fire element include agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia.
Action Plan: In balance with summer
Awake earlier in the morning and go to bed later in the evening. Rest at midday to stay energised.
Exercise your heart: practice elevating your heart rate with exercise in order to strengthen it. Compliment vigorous exercise with meditation and/or deep breathing exercises to slow your heart rate in preparation for a good restful sleep.
Refrain from anger; keep calm and even-tempered during times of difficulty.
Feel the joy. When you experience the emotion of joy, you nourish the heart. Seek out people and things that bring you joy; give unconditionally, as this helps us to connect with others and bring more joy into our lives. Remember to practice compassion with yourself as well, and to allow yourself to receive.
Avoid too much exposure to the heat by resting during the middle of the day and saving rigorous activities for the morning or evening.
Summer is the season to feel hot and sweat a bit. In moderation sweating is good for you, helping to grow yang and remove toxins from the body. Let it be in a natural way; while you can use air conditioning, try not to expose yourself excessively to artificially regulated environments.
The predominant nature of Summer is Yang. Unlike the darker and calmer Yin, Yang is related to excitement, assertiveness, and exuberance, making summer a great time to take action to form positive change in your life.
[staffbio staffname=”Grace Yu” staffimage=”http://orientalbalance.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/dr-grace-yu.jpg” stafftitle=”Specialist in Chinese Medicine Gynecology” staffemail=”email@example.com”]Grace Yu obtained her PhD at the Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Gynecology. Her adviser and mentor is Professor Luo Songping, an internationally renowned gynecologist. Grace also learned Craniosacral Resonance therapy from an internationally renowned teacher. Read more.[/staffbio]