In Chinese Medicine, Summer is the season of the Fire element – a time for expanding and growing. As we adapt to new circumstances with the easing of lockdown, now can be a great time for some acupuncture, as Julie Kelham explains
At the core of Chinese Medicine lies the principle that nature is governed by Yin/Yang and the five elements: Wood, Fire Earth, Metal and Water. Each season is associated with a different element and with the energy system of different organs. Each element has a different colour, sound, emotion, and odour, time of day, season, and type of weather, taste and seasonal power linked to it.
Over the last few months the season has been in a transitional period from Spring (Wood element), into summer (Fire element) and it continues to be a transitional time for us all. We have all had to adapt to new circumstances and are now navigating new terrain with the easing of lockdown restrictions. We may be feeling a mix of anxiety, fear and caution as well as excitement with wanting to move forward and resume interests or activities that were put on hold however tentative that may be.
During my daily dog walks I have continued to reflect on how these uncertain times may be impacting our Fire element. With the Solstice behind us we have been experiencing lighter mornings and evenings, vivid colours showing in flowers and shrubbery, and mostly warmer days. The Fire element and the dynamic energy of summer gives us the momentum to move forward to activate plans and decisions for expansion and growth. It provides us with the energy to promote activity, excitement, communication, connection, warmth and love.
During lockdown many people felt a renewed sense of connection with their family, friends, and community and paradoxically, other people have felt a disconnection and loneliness that is more acute than experienced before. I know that many of us have missed the connection and warmth that comes from a comforting touch or a hand held, hugs with friends, family and loved ones, and I too have shared that acute sense of loss at times. Alongside this have been the little gems of joy that have been found in such challenging times. The social platforms of technology that have kept us in touch, the kindness and support of communities, the clear blue skies and absence of toxic plane trails in the sky, bird song, renewed appreciation and connection with nature.
Impact on emotions
The emotions associated with the Fire element are joy and sadness and our sense of self and identity in the world are also influenced by this element.
When the Fire element is out of balance, a person may feel an ongoing deep sadness, a lack of emotional warmth and connection to others.
A person may laugh when talking about painful events in their life or have no laughter or joy when talking about something pleasurable or joyful. At the other end of the spectrum, someone may feel excessive joy and elation causing disharmony. When our Fire element is in balance, we can experience joy and passion, our sense of self and confidence feels intact, we can express and receive warmth and love, we can feel sadness without feeling completely overwhelmed by the feeling or by the world around us.
I know I have felt a deep sense of sadness about the global impact of Covid and how this has further highlighted inequalities that were intrinsically pandemic long before Covid arrived on our doorsteps. So many people have lost their lives; others have lost their income, home, jobs, time with loved ones, support networks, structures, routine and plans. All of these things will have impacted on our sense of self and identity in different ways.
Effects of imbalance in Fire element
Depletion or excess of the Fire element can manifest in different ways such as:
- poor circulation of blood
- cold extremities
- hot flushes
- poor short-term memory
- mental restlessness and a racing mind
- excess laughter or no laughter
- over excitement
- dullness in the eyes (in Chinese Medicine, the Shen is the ‘spirit of the Heart’ and influences sleep, the mind and consciousness); a person with healthy Shen will have a ‘sparkle’ in their eyes.
The Fire element is also associated with the energetic systems of the Heart (Yin) and Small Intestine (Yang) along with two functions called the Heart Protector (Pericardium) and Triple Burner.
The Heart governs blood vessels and through constantly pumping blood around the body is providing us with this dynamic life force. The Heart is our centre and has a special connection to all the other organs in the body. The Small Intestine energy gives us the ability to sort through ideas, thoughts or emotions and it also sorts out the waste from the much needed nutrients in the body. The Triple Burner relates to the upper, middle and lower part of the body and is important in the transformative function of moving fluids and Qi in the body and regulating temperature and warmth. The Heart Protector enables us to be open appropriately, to have boundaries and flexibility rather than leaving the Heart vulnerable and exposed or cold and closed. It protects the Heart by shielding it from the blows and traumas in life and can be weakened by shock and hurt.
The pandemic has caused global shock and trauma in varying degrees for people who have been seriously ill, people who have lost loved ones, and for all of us who have been navigating our way through these unprecedented times so the Heart and Heart protector in particular will have taken a huge blow over the last few months.
Ways to support and strengthen your Fire energy
- Mint tea or mint and cucumber in tepid water can be refreshing and helps maintain hydration and balance during the summer months.
- Excess alcohol heats up the Fire element causing more internal heat during the summer months so something to be extra mindful of.
- Choosing an exercise that you enjoy will support and strengthen your Fire element. I have recently re-discovered hula hooping!
- Reflect on what brings you joy, passion and enjoyment in life. Activities that support your connection with yourself and others will support your Fire. Connecting with others socially, politically or ethically, connecting with pets and animals and nature around us. Activities which generate passion and enjoyment, maybe singing, dancing or sport. Meditation and yoga will also help calm the Shen and Mind,
- Come and have or re-commence your acupuncture treatment, as this can support your Fire element by strengthening, harmonising and regulating your Heart Qi, cooling and clearing heat if needed, nourishing your Heart Blood, clearing shock and calming your Shen and Mind. Acupuncture can help strengthen your Heart protector and harmonise your Small Intestine and Triple Burner energy.
Acupuncture to rebalance
Some examples of acupuncture point names on the Heart/Small Intestine and Pericardium/Triple Burner channels illustrate the essence of the Fire Element perfectly such as: Ji Quan (Supreme Spring), Shen Men, (Spirit Gate), Ting Gong (Listening Palace), Lao Gong (Palace of Weariness), Nei Guan (Inner Gate), Wai Guan (Outer Gate).
Acupuncture is a dynamic form of medicine that harmonises and supports your overall energy base as well as addressing particular element imbalances within your body that could be manifesting on a physical and/or emotional level.
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