In Chinese medicine, the summer is associated with joy and vitality, which isn’t too hard to understand. The garden truly comes alive with a sea of colours and the break from school or work can signal a respite from the daily grind. For those who wisely choose to go away later in September, they get a double whammy of feeling like they’re on holiday twice.
Summer is the season of the Chinese medicine Heart. Summer represents the expansive nature of movement and delight, and life and energies are at its peak. It is a time for abundance in the natural world and so it should also be in our minds. Like plants who have been cultivated in the spring, now is the time for growth. It is a time for joy.
The Heart in Chinese medicine is in charge of the mind and awareness, consciousness and Shen. Shen is the Chinese medicine term for Spirit which describes the inner vitality and psyche, not to be mistaken for the religious soul. When the Shen is strong and well nourished, the mind is also strong. Eyes are bright and the complexion is radiant. The Chinese phrase “heart matters” (心事，xin shi) can be translated as “something on the mind” which shows the importance of mental and emotional factors affecting the delicate harmony of the Heart system.
The Heart needs peace to function well, if there is agitation the Heart function is weakened, leading to anxiety and unrest. Thinking can become confused and chaotic. Often the person may alternate from sudden tiredness to enthusiasm for life to melancholy. This swing of emotions can further exhaust the body and needs to be balanced through acupuncture or herbs.
At home, self awareness and moderation is key. Rest and relaxation is important to cool down “inner” heat as is trying to avoid a constant heavy workload. Stress and anger are obvious undesirables but interestingly, so is extreme joy. Going to bed before 11pm will also help.
Avoid acrid spices and caffeine overload. Have your fill of cherries, watermelon, pineapple, and if you enjoy it, cool down with some green tea this summer.
Image: Flickr/ Em
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