“The supernatural forces of Summer create heat in the Heavens and fire on Earth; they create the heart and the pulse within the body … the red color, the tongue, and the ability to express laughter … they create the bitter flavor, and the emotions of happiness and joy.”
Excerpts from Healing with Whole Foods, by Paul Pitchford
To unify with summer, a yang season, the Inner Classic suggest we express the yang principle – expansion, growth, lightness, outward activity, brightness, and creativity. The following suggestions for lifestyle and diet reflect this principle.
Summer is a period of luxurious growth. To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer, awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyful, and grown into selfless service. The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us.
Summer Food and Preparation
Use plenty of brightly colored summer fruits and vegetables, and enjoy creating beautiful meals – make a dazzling display with the colors of the food, and design a floral arrangement for the table. Cook lightly and regularly add a little spicy, pungent, or even fiery flavor. When sautéing, use high heat for a very short time, and steam or simmer foods as quickly as possible. Use little salt and more water.
Summer offers abundant variety, and the diet should reflect this. Minerals and oils are sweated out of the body, and their loss can cause weakness if they are not replaced by a varied diet. To be more comfortable, dink hot liquids and take warm showers to induce sudden sweating and to cool the body. Summer heat combined with too much cold food weakens the digestive organs. Coldness causes contraction; it holds in sweat and heat, and interferes with digestion. Iced drinks and ice cream actually contract the stomach and stop digestion. (they are best avoided)
On the hottest days, create a cool atmosphere (picnics, patio meals, etc.) and serve more cooling fresh foods such as salads, sprouts (especially mung, soy, and alfalfa), fruit, cucumber, tofu, and flower and leave teas including chrysanthemum, mint, and chamomile. Common fruits which cool summer heat best are apples, watermelon, lemons, and limes. Mung bean soup or tea is another specific remedy. Also the dispersing hot-flavored spices are considered appropriate in the warmest weather. At first their effect is to increase warmth, but ultimately they bring body heat out to the surface to be dispersed. With heat on the surface, one’s body mirrors the summer climate and therefore will be less affected by it. Red and green hot peppers, cayenne red pepper, fresh (not dried) ginger, horseradish, and black pepper are all ideal for this purpose. However, if too many dispersing foods are taken, then weakness and los of yang will result, and the ability to stay warm and vital in the cooler seasons is lost.
At the other extreme, heavy foods on hot days cause sluggishness. Such foods include meats, eggs, and excesses of nuts, seeds, and grains. Eating less and lightly on hot, bright days is a natural, healthful practice, a pattern easily forgotten when we neither pay attention nor change according to our internal rhythms.
The Heart in Harmony and Disease
The Fire Element rules the heart and small intestine. In Chinese healing tradition, the heart includes not only the organ itself but also the concept – shared by Western people – of the heart as a mental/emotional center, reflected in our phrases: “have a heart!”, “Put your heart into it!”. Or “Learn by heart.” Dean Ornish M.D., heart specialist at the University of California at San Francisco, has developed from his experience a similar awareness: “I think the mind is where heart disease begins for many people.” The Romanized word for heart in china is xin, which is often translated as “heart-mind.” Thus, according to the Chinese medical definition, the heart not only regulates blood circulation but also controls consciousness, spirit, sleep, memory, and houses the mind. In this way the heart, together with the liver, is related to the nervous system and brain. The advantage of using this expanded definition is that it accords with reality – the heart acupuncture meridian affects both the physical heart and the mind. It is well known that emotions affect the actual functioning of the heart, seen in the speed and strength of the pulses. We will refer to the various aspects of this expanded “heart-mind” definition as appropriate.
The heart in harmony: Those with healthy hearts are genuinely friendly. They are also humble, not out of convention but because they actually feel small in comparison to the wonders they perceive with their open hearts and aware minds. Clarity is a central attribute of those with a harmonious heart-mind. They seem to see effortlessly through problems to arrive at brilliant solutions.
General Symptoms of Heart-Mind Imbalance
- Scattered and confused mind
- Excess or no laughter
- A ruddy or very pale face
- Speech problems (stuttering, excess verbiage, confused speech)
- Mental illness
- Loss of memory
- Poor circulation
- Weak Spirit
- Aversion to Heat
Here is a great workout using Yoga that helps with opening the Heart Meridian!
Happy summer everyone!