The Seasons and Health
In Classical Chinese Medicine (CM), the seasons and the transitions between them are not just changes in the weather. They represent fundamental alterations in the flow of Qi throughout the world, and those alterations directly affect how we access and express that Qi. In other words, as the energy of the world changes, so does our own. That might sound far-fetched, but the relationship that the health of the human body has with the changing seasons is a core tenet of CM. Each season has an element associated with it, as well as an organ, a dominant emotion, and other attributes and traits. Each of these aspects has quantifiable, and important effects on people and their health.
Summer is on Fire
Summer is the season associated with fire. Like fire, Summer is seen as an outward expression of energy, movement, and activity. The most Yang of the five elements, fire is full of exuberant growth and externalized energy. Summer is the the flowering of the Yin energy that we grew and nourished in the Spring. The organs that represent Summer are the heart and small intestine. A balance within the heart energy relates to joy, and passion. An imbalance can lead to mania, depression, insomnia, and confusion. The small intestine is an important regulator of not just the digestive processes, but how we process our emotional lives. An imbalance there can lead to feelings of isolation, restlessness, and trouble dealing with emotion.
Self Care for the Summer
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, self-care in the summer is about physical action and emotional expression. Full of hot Yang energy, it is important for the body to have outlets, and to discharge some of that heat. Exercise is always a healthy and helpful tool to release stored energy, but can be especially crucial in Summer. Remember to balance the fire of summer with its elemental pair: water. Whether playing in actual water or finding the just right food or drink to quench the rising energy of summer, Asian Medicine is always about seeking harmony between the elements.
The fiery energy of Summer is not just a physical energy, but also emotional. Summer is a time for friends, family, honesty and intimacy. Express what is in your heart, and in your gut. Go out and laugh loudly, make noise, and be exuberant with the people you care about. Seek joy in the Summer, and in the process you might find a balance between your body, your mind, and your heart.