FIVE ELEMENTS > FIRE

Summer and the Fire element

Summer, covering the months of May to July, is associated with the Fire element. The sun is at its height, peaking on the longest day, June 21. It's a time of full "Yang", when life is at its most expansive and outgoing. We're drawn to having summer barbecues and picnics and parties. If we've worked hard in spring, things come to fruition now. We can reward ourselves with a holiday, a more leisurely pace of life. The hot weather (when we get it) slows us down and helps us to enjoy the moment. Summer becomes late summer in August; the Earth element takes over, and we move into harvesting and reaping.

The heart and small intestine

The Fire element represents the heart and small intestine. The heart expresses different levels of joy, happiness, excitement and contentment, as well as being a physical organ, pumping blood round our bodies. When relationships go wrong, we can feel a tightness in the chest; we get palpitations when we're nervous or excited. The heart is one of the easiest organs to tune into energetically if we allow ourselves to express our feelings and connect with others. The small intestine helps to protect the heart energetically by acting as a filter of the "pure" and "impure". A healthy small intestine will be able to absorb and digest a little of what's not so good for us, and reject the rest. Along with the pericardium, or heart protector (the sac around the heart), it determines when it's appropriate to open up emotionally or not; energetically and physically, it separates and discriminates.

Above: Fireworks epitomise the sparkly, exciting aspect of the Fire element.
Above right: the smiley faces of sunflowers bloom in the summer heat

Joy and contentment

You would have thought that all "joy" is good, but in Chinese medicine, there is such a thing as "excess joy". This is the kind of overexcitement and overstimulation that burns us out and leaves us exhausted and empty or depressed. A healthier balance is to work on attaining a deeper level of contentment that doesn't shift with our moods or any external stimuli. A more moderate feeling of being energised and upbeat but less prone to highs and lows is more sustainable and ultimately more satisfying. Many people with a strong Fire energy may find it hard to let go of the manic highs, but the trouble with stirring up excessive excitement is that there's always a comedown. This is the law of equal opposites: what goes up must come down. If you bear this in mind, it becomes easier to aim for the more moderate, inner contentment that puts less strain on our hearts!

Relationships

The love relationship and all relationships with those close to us constantly test our ability to be true to ourselves. Being mindful of how much we choose to open up, or give of ourselves, is key to maintaining resilience and proper boundaries in this area. It's all too easy to do things for others because we feel the need to prove our love to them, or because we want to be loved and liked, or because we're scared of rejection or abandonment. But this is a dangerous road to travel, because we can end up not being true to ourselves or our needs, not being honest with those around us, and doing things out of fear rather than genuine love and affection. And the other person will know we're doing this on a subliminal level (as will they be too), so you set up an unhealthy silent dynamic between you that can slowly rot the core of a relationship and lead to an inner separation long before it manifests as dysfunctional outwardly. Being loving and gentle but always emotionally honest is the only way to maintain the health of a relationship. If you feel you need help in this area, do contact me for a chat. Click here for my clinic details.

Symptoms of weak heart energy

Palpitations, sweaty palms, difficulty getting to sleep, emotional troubles and nervousness, depression, anxiety or tightness in the chest area and short-term memory loss are all symptoms of weak heart energy. Do the exercise below to strengthen and calm yourself.

Qi Gong exercise to strengthen your heart

You can do this either standing, sitting upright or lying down. Focus on the heart centre, behind your breastbone in the centre of your chest. Fill this area with a warm red light, pulling it in from your back, between your shoulder blades, and bringing it to the front, so the ribs rise. When you breathe out again, feel the toxins drain out between your shoulder blades at the back, as though through an exhaust pipe. Each time you exhale, make a soft, deep, elongated "ah" sound; it should resonate from the back of your throat. Do this several times until your heart feels more relaxed and open, your diaphragm (below your ribcage) has dropped, and you feel more calm, centred and warm.

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THE HEAT IS ON

During the season of summer, the Fire element, social gatherings round flaming barbecues, beach holidays and festivals harness this energy best

JOY & CONTENTMENT

If we want to experience sustained happiness, we need to seek out those things that make us feel quietly contented, rather than chasing instant thrills or short-lived excitement

GET IN TUNE

If you would like to book an acupuncture or face-reading session with me to help you tune into the seasonal energy and rebalance yourself, click here

FORTIFY YOUR HEART

Bitter foods such as chicory and most leaves and greens stimulate our heart energy, as well as nourish the blood especially good if you find it hard to get to sleep, or suffer from palpitations. Those with emotional issues may find themselves reaching for dark chocolate too

YOUR FACE UNMASKED

The heart is reflected at the end of the nose, in the corners of the eyes and mouth, and on the tongue. A white area or line above the tip of the nose shows current emotional issues, especially regarding how vulnerable or closed you are with others. Crows' feet are good: they prove that you laugh a lot! A downturned mouth shows a tendency to depression and pessimism. Also, the shine of the eyes is key to assessing vitality and happiness. See Face Reading