On Sunday, June 20th at 8:31p we arrived at the summer solstice. The longest day of the year, and subsequently one of the hottest here in Seattle, there is no doubt that we are indeed officially in Summer. As we transition from the new growth of spring, we have hopefully spent that time cleansing that which was of no use to us. And after all of that hard work, we are ready for the Harvest.
Summer is the season of abundance. It is the time when our gardens are ripe for the picking. In traditional Chinese medicine, summer is associated with the element of fire, the color red and the emotion of joy. It has the most Yang energy of all of the seasons, meaning that it is full of excess and energy. It is not a surprise that people tend to feel their best during this time of year.
In health, summer is also associated with the heart. This is not surprising given that our heart is responsible for filling our bodies with abundant blood and oxygen. This abundance also extends to our emotional well-being. Summer is the time to stop and take a look back at all you have accomplished, big and small. It is a time to tap into our hearts and spirits and live our full potentials. In what ways can you be proud of yourself in these next few months? What things can you add to your list of accomplishments. What are the small things in life that bring you joy on a daily basis?
So as we move into this energetic season, here are some ways to harvest that energy without burning yourself out:
During the summer months, focus on foods that are light and easy to digest. Fresh fruits and vegetables are best and can provide a cooling effect on the especially warm days.
- Cooling fruits: watermelon, cantaloupe, berries
- Cooling veggies: cucumber, snap peas, sprouts
- Cruciferous veggies: bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus
- Refreshing herbs: dill, mint, cilantro
- Seafood: shrimp, crab, tuna
Try to avoid things that are heavy and warming like fried foods or lots of sugar
Summer is the perfect time to help build up our immune strength in preparation for fall viruses. Taking care of your body and building up a healthy foundation is important during this time.
Healthy habits to start building:
- Waking up when the sun rises
- Going to bed when the sun sets
- Drinking plenty of water (half your body weight in ounces), especially on hot days
- Nap when tired during the day, especially around noon
- Enjoy the sun to help improve vitamin D, but limit excess sun exposure
The heart in Chinese medicine is related to joy and governs the mind and its stability. The heart helps us connect with abundant emotions such as love and enthusiasm and warmth within human relationships. When our heart qi is deficient, we can experience depression or apathy. When our heart qi is in excess, we can sometimes feel anxious or agitated or have trouble sleeping at night.
When our heart qi is balanced, we can feel a balanced sense of abundance in our heart and mind. Things may feel at ease or you may be able to find joy in more places in your life. If you have been feeling sort of lackluster towards life, your heart qi may be deficient. Here are some things that might help:
- Enjoy the sun! The sun can bring us energy if we enjoy it in moderation
- Spend time with other people! The heart qi responds well to warmth and connection with other people.
- Engage your senses: put your bare feet on the grass, feel the wind on your skin, smell the neighbors bbqing. Just take some time to feel what your body is feeling in any moment.
- Trust your intuition – this can help you connect to your heart
So to recap: take a look at all the abundance around you. What can you find that can help you live your life to your full potential? Soak it in. You’ve come a long way.
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