Wednesday June 21st is the longest day of the year – the summer solstice – marking the first official day of summer and the turning point after which the sun starts rising later and setting earlier.
“Solstice” comes from the Latin solsitium, or “sun stands still.” On the solstice the sun will indeed appear to stand still as it reaches its highest point in the sky. This illusion occurs because the earth is tilted as far as it can toward the sun.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Fire is the element associated with summer and it has the power to illuminate our inner being as well as our external world. Summer is also associated with the energy of the Heart. Fire represents the energy of yang, strength, courage, passion and rejuvenation. Its power is felt most intensely in the summer months.
During the summer I encourage you to focus on the connection between the Heart and the Kidneys, located on either side of your spine, on the edge of your lower ribs. The Kidneys represent the element of Water and can help balance excess fire, which is the element associated with the Summer solstice.
Have fun this summer by exercising outdoors, hiking, engaging in social events like BBQs etc and remember to offset these activities with meditation, relaxation, and generally recharging your batteries. When we don’t seek out balance we may feel typical “summer symptoms” related to heat/yang such as excess body heat, sweating, feeling parched, skin dryness, the inability to focus, agitation, nervous exhaustion, heartburn and insomnia and general restlessness.
Here are a few tools to balance Fire:
• Consider getting up a bit earlier and make the most of exercising in the morning sun before it gets too hot; Try to walk fast enough to break a bit of a sweat, but don’t overdo it. The heart is more vulnerable in the summer, so build up your exercise routine gradually.
• Walk barefoot on the grass!
• If you’re staying up later, make sure your bedroom is cool and dark enough to help you sleep.
• Eat well. Choose cooling foods that will nourish the yin. Fruits like watermelon, peaches and oranges; vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, corn and cucumbers; (For anyone with a weaker digestive system, lightly steam, stir-fry or grill your vegetables).
• Drink plenty of fresh water. You need to keep rehydrated. Your body will give a sigh of relief, thanking you.
• Breathe through stressful situations, and come all the way down into your belly and Kidneys with your breath.
• Get regular acupuncture treatments in the summer. An old Chinese medical text states that when you get treatments in the summer you will stay strong and healthy in the winter months.
Enjoy the longer summer days and bring the joy, love and happiness that’s inside you to life!