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The Seasonal Rhythm of Summer and the Fire Element

Summer is the season to enjoy outdoor activities, to expand ourselves, opening our hearts and taking risks to connect and engage with others. The portal of the Summer Solstice—June 20th—is a transitional peak. Summer is the season of maximal yang (light or bright and active) energy with the longest and warmest days; the season of abundant sun. So, naturally Summer is associated with the fire element. Following the rise of wood energy in the Spring, in the fire phase of early to mid-summer, energy expands outward. 


The heart is the primary organ associated with the fire element—along with the heart’s paired organ, the small intestine, the pericardium (also called the heart protector) and the triple warmer meridian. Interestingly, the heart creates the largest magnetic field of the body which extends out in all directions around us. The heart is the home of spirit, or higher consciousness. The spirit of the heart is known as the Shen in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The corresponding fire element is the source of our capacity for both personal and divine, unconditional love.

The emotion corresponding to the fire element is joy when in balance.  It is the spark of passion, excitement and enthusiasm. When the fire element is out of balance, it is characterized by overexcitement, anxiety and mania or a lack of enthusiasm, emotional flatness and unhappiness. In more extreme cases, excess fire can manifest physically in an irregular heartbeat or palpitations, nervousness, insomnia and agitation. 


When the heart is disturbed by emotional imbalance, it cannot house the Shen which is said to wander. Our spirit likes to feel calm, centered and grounded. So, it is restorative to bring scattered attention back into the body, center in the heart, feel emotions, and drop the overthinking mind. When the fire element is balanced, the spirit is at home in the heart and “. . .this energy leads to open heartedness, intimacy, generosity of spirit, optimism, joy, and the heartfelt expression of love.” (Charles A. Moss, MD)


Rest and cooling (yin) is needed to balance excess fire (yang). Be sure not to overdo it during the summertime balancing the pursuit of fun activities with enough rest.

To support the heart, eat lots of bitter and red foods including dandelion, arugula, kale, celery, broccoli rabe, tomato, strawberry and watermelon. 

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