Summer and the Fire Element

The weather has been hot this year. In Chinese medicine, summer is the season associated with the fire element, and with the organs of the Heart. It is the organof warmth, connection, joy, and passion and by using the principles of Chinese medicine, we can learn to have balanced fire in our own lives.

They key components to having a balanced fire element are healthy boundaries with others, an ability to share and withdraw our warmth and friendliness when needed, and the ability to experience joy that feels appropriate to each situation. Each of the four organs associated with the fire element can help us understand where our fire is healthy and how to bring it into balance in the areas it needs help. When reading the descriptions below, see which organs you identify with, and where you know in your life you are strong and where you need support.

We can feel our fire is out of balance when we have trouble saying “no” (or “yes”) to others, when we let other people’s moods affect our own. These functions we associate with the Pericardium in Chinese medicine, which we also refer to as the Heart Protector.  As you can see, it’s second name is indicative of its function, protecting the Heart. The Heart Protector’s job is to be the sentinel at the heart’s gate. The Heart Protector says, “Yes, you may come in,” or, “no, you may not come in,” to people and situations we encounter. A balanced Heart Protector knows where we are loved and where we are not, and makes sure to put us in those places where we feel appreciated.

So who is this Heart that needs so much protection? The Heart in Chinese medicine is considered the Ruler, much like the king or queen on a throne. Even as in western medicine, without the heart, there is no life, and the body does everything it can to protect its Ruler from injury. You know you are in the presence of a “Heart person” when you meet someone who is charismatic, charming, warm, and present. A strong and balanced Heart has the ability to connect with people in a rooted and genuine way. When our Heart is unbalanced, we feel awkward around other people, identifying more with our own insecurities and the insecurities of others. We find it difficult to “know our own hearts” and feel anxious, restless, and unsettled. Acupuncture is often used to balance our Heart to help restore peace and, feeling settled in every situation.

The best ways to support your fire this summer are to share your warmth with others, partake in experiences that are joyful, and to have fun! Balancing that with some quiet time will keep your fire from “burning out” and of course, staying hydrated while playing is key. Cold foods in summer are more acceptable in Chinese medicine, more so than any other time of the year, so enjoy your watermelon and your salads while you can! And remember to use acupuncture and herbs to help you when you feel restless, anxious, over-extended, and over-joyed (too much joy is a pathology in Chinese medicine!) to help restore the warmth and friendliness that fire brings. Happy summer!

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