Summer The Season of the Heart & the Fire Element
Meridian organs (yin): Heart
Meridian organ (yang): Small Intestine
Qualities: Growth, expansion, light, abundance
Cautions: Excess (heat, activity, action, emotion e.g. anger)
Meridian clock (heart): 11am – 1pm
Meridian clock (small intestine): 1pm – 3pm
Summer is the vibrant, expansive extrovert season, ruled by the fire element and heat. This is the time for passion, giving yourself wholeheartedly to life and the feeling that anything is possible! The most light is available to us and our yang energy is at its peak. Drink in the warm radiance of the sun and activate your cells. It’s a time of action, the ripening of ideas, fun, play and connection. The fire element is the spark from which all of life derives, our inner fire expands to our extremities to allow for greater expression of energy. It’s a time to sizzle and sparkle baby! However, this high vibe season comes with a warning about excess – too much fire leads to burn out. Balance is the key to keep that fire in check.
The emotion associated with the fire element is joy, which, when in balance, represents an overflowing enthusiasm for life. An excess can create hyperexcitability and restlessness, while a deficiency of fire can produce a feeling of apathy.
The symptoms associated with imbalances in the fire element include the following:
- Parched mouth and throat.
- Excess body heat.
- Mouth ulcers.
- Red complexion. Rashes, hives, or hot skin eruptions.
- Sleep disturbances, insomnia, and restless sleep.
- Palpitations, or an irregular heartbeat.
- Poor circulation (varicose veins, haemorrhoids).
- Restlessness, agitation, Irritability, anxiety or explosive energy.
- Depression (too little joy) or mania (excess joy)
- Speech problems: Excessive talking, inappropriate laughter, rapid speech, aphasia, stuttering.
- Irrational fears and phobias.
- Hot or painful joints.
- Lack of concentration and poor focus.
- The pulse feels like a flower in the summer when in balance; full, heavy and generous. If it is too tight or too soft it can be an indication of fire imbalance.
- Cold physically, emotionally and sexually, a feeling like the fire has “gone out”.
- Lack of receptivity.
- Excessive sweating or lack of perspiration.
The organs associated with this element are the heart, pericardium, small intestines and the tongue. The heart is where the spirit resides, known as “the seat of consciousness”, according to Taoist philosophy. The ancients called it the “Palace of the Spirit”. Spirit or essence can be seen in the complexion or eyes. Your skin is radiant and rosy and your eyes are bright if your heart qi is healthy. The heart is considered the king of all organs, as all other organs will sacrifice their qi, or vital energy to maintain the hearts balance. It is the ruler of blood circulation and blood carries the qi into each and every cell. Poor circulation of blood effects all areas of our health. As the heart houses the spirit any deficiency of heart qi has an impact on mental health, cognitive ability and emotions. If the heart is not in balance, then it is impossible to experience good health. It is the home of our internal harmony, a control centre of all our activity. When it is balanced, expression, true fulfilment and the equilibrium between heart and mind is experienced.
There is always a yin organ and yang organ. The small Intestine (Yang) is paired with the heart (Yin). The small intestine separates the pure from impure and allocates nutrients and waste to where they need to go. It does this both physically and energetically, by also processing ideas, emotions and information as it does with food. Imbalances experienced in the small intestine can lead to digestion issues and appetite disturbances. Reflecting the connection with the heart – stomach pain, nausea and loss of appetite can result from heartache and stress. As the heart houses the Shen, clarity and mental peace can be impacted by the small intestines ability to effectively process. A great example of the gut mind connection. The heart and mind are directly affected by any gut disfunction and vice versa.
The fire element is the only one with 2 extra meridians: pericardium (yin) paired with the triple burner/heater (yang). The pericardium is considered the ‘protector’ of the heart. It’s a shield not only against infection, shock and trauma but also energetically against what we allow in and out. The triple burner (san jiao) is the abdominal area divided into three sections, the upper jiao which distributes fluids all over the body, middle jiao which digests and transports food and drink and lower jiao that separates the essences of food into clean and impure, excreting the impure.
How to keep healthy and joyful in the summer:
- Start your day early and enjoy longer days with a later bedtime, take full advantage of the yang energy of daytime hours.
- The small intestines natural optimal functioning time is between 1pm and 3pm. Where possible take time to rest around this time so that your digestive system can function at an optimal level.
- A healthy heart needs regular exercise to support the circulatory system. Build up a sweat with a good cardiovascular exercise, which helps to cleanse toxins from the body. The heart is more vulnerable in the summer, so build your exercise routine gradually.
- Tend to your fire, take part in passion projects, make fun a priority, move your body, give yourself and your heart to others and activities that your heart loves.
- Engage your senses and drink in the abundance of summer with all its colours and fragrances.
- Ground yourself by going barefoot on the Earth or lying flat on the grass.
- Like a solar panel that uses the sun’s warmth to generate electricity, you can soak in as much sun as possible to generate your body’s electric waves by spending as much time outdoors as possible. Allow the sun to energize you both physically as well as emotionally. Boost your Vitamin-D levels, which may protect against osteoporosis and heart-disease as well as alleviate forms of depression, insomnia, and an overactive immune system.
- Trust your intuition. The heart rules understanding and intelligence. Trust in your hearts knowing.
- Socialize with people who bring you joy and make time to play, for lightness and laughter. Laughter is very nourishing and healing for the heart. Do activities that bring you joy and put you in a state of flow.
- Seek water to balance the Fire element: cool baths and showers, wild swimming.
- Make time to balance the social with some relaxation take a yoga class, ride your bike, practice tai chi, qigong, breath and meditation exercises.
- This time of year is nourishing for our arteries and our circulation making things like hot and cold showers and dry brushing actually enjoyable.
Eating for Summer Health:
Summer is a time of abundance with plenty of fruits and vegetable available. As it is a time of heat and yang it is a good time to indulge in cooler quality and raw foods to keep us cool and balanced.
- Look for more green produce that support your body fluids.
- Eat in moderation, avoid overeating and indigestion in these warmer months.
- Drink lots of pure, fresh water. The sun pulls the moisture from your pores, so it is important that you rehydrate, balance your internal fluid and temperature. Have fluids with electrolytes like coconut water.
- Eat cooling foods and eat slowly.
- The taste associated with the fire element is bitter, so try to include bitter greens like watercress, rocket, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard in your diet. Bitter is a powerful mover of qi, enters all summer’s fire organs and aids digestion. It can also be useful to dry and drain. It supports the liver. Be wary of overdoing bitter flavours as an excess will dry up yin fluids and bloods and deplete Joy (make us bitter ourselves). Coffee is a good example of an area we overuse bitter, too much can drain our reserves and impact our adrenals.
- Rose is medicine for the heart. It can open it up as well as teach us about protection. Its thorny nature reminds us to be solid in our foundation when setting boundaries with others. And its beautiful flower reminds us to bloom.
Best Summer Foods:
Fruit: Apple, lemon, kiwi, watermelon, orange, pear, pineapple, tangerine, apricot, cantaloupe, peach, strawberries, melons (reduce heat – don’t eat with other foods)
Cooling foods: Cucumber, endive hearts, almonds, broad beans, asparagus spinach, tomato, salads, sprouts, bok choy, mung means, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, white mushroom, corn, yogurt, barley, fish, hawthorn berries, lemon balm, rose, oolong tea, parsley, peas, pumpkins, red beans, seaweed, mint, dill, coriander.
Drinks: Water, watermelon juice, mint/cucumber water. Herbal teas: green tea (“it disperses summer heat and can expel toxins, cool the heart fire, calm the mind, remove heat from liver and gallbladder, and relieve stomach and lung.”) jasmine flowers, jasmine green tea, cardamom, dandelion, elder flower, fennel, lemon and lime tea, Moroccan mint, rose petals, lavender, chamomile, calendula flower and valerian root.
Avoid: Hot and dry foods such as coffee, excessively spicy foods, ice cold foods like ice cream since they cause the digestive system to slow down.