Within traditional Chinese medicine, there is the five element theory. It is believed that each season (fall, winter, spring, summer, and late summer) is connected to one of the five elements: metal, water, wood, fire, and earth.
Summer, the warmest season, relates to the fire element. Since summer is dictated by the fire element, it is the ideal time to assimilate, nourish, and embrace this element. You can align your health and well-being during the summer months through understanding fire and how it relates to you.
When the fire element is deficient, common symptoms include chills and numbness in the extremities, poor circulation, as well as menstrual, urinary, and sexual dysfunction. You may also have trouble breathing easily, and suffer nasal congestion, sluggishness, and digestive problems.
When the fire element is excessive, you will commonly have inflamed joints, chronic infections, dry lungs, inflamed throat and sinus symptoms, constipation, and hypersexuality.
Love, joy, and enthusiasm are the emotions associated with the heart and fire. If you are out of balance, you may suffer from a lack of those emotions, and conversely, if you lack passion, fun, and love, you may hurt your heart health.
Neil Gumenick, who practices and teaches classical five-element acupuncture, compared the fire element to a flower in his article Tending Our Fire. He wrote:
“Just as a healthy plant naturally produces flowers, a healthy person produces a healthy Fire. When our Fire is healthy, it responds appropriately to meet the tasks at hand. Like a thermostat, it knows when and with whom it can be warm and open, and when and with whom it needs to be more protective.”
Getting hurt by people you once trusted can cause an imbalance in your fire element. Since the fire element relates to your heart, the term heartbroken is apt. To heal your broken heart, start with personal work.
Interestingly, one of the acupuncture points to help heal a wounded heart is called “utmost source.” If it is stimulated correctly, and at the right time, it can help reestablish a person’s connection to the divine, or spiritual connection. So the personal work you engage in to heal your heart relates to spiritual work — remembering that there is something greater than yourself in charge. Knowing that offers a sense of security, hope, and awe.
The other element of personal work is cultivating your ability to be warm-hearted. This takes courage and a leap of faith when you have been hurt and now risk pain when letting others in. But without working on this, you’ll have trouble building the strength of the fire element, which lets you know when to be open and when to protect yourself.
So with a leap of faith, you will heal through giving with an open heart. The more open and warm you become, the healthier and happier you also become.
How to tend and cultivate your fire
Think of all the things that warm your heart. A nice dinner with friends, loving and joyful music, a walk through the park or on a beach, humor, singing uplifting and happy songs, and laughter.
Laughter is such a tough thing to prescribe because it should come from a place of authenticity. To laugh is healing, contagious, uplifting, and vital for a good life.
Without fun or joy, it is virtually impossible to have a healthy heart. So think of all the things in your life that can make you laugh on a regular basis and incorporate those joys in your life.
Make this a priority. Learn to take things more lightly, to laugh at your pain, or the ironies in life. Make time for fun. If you don’t know where to start, spend time with children or playful people. They can teach you.
Warmth is also cultivated through a giving heart. A giving heart is a healthy heart. To help you improve your giving nature, start by being more attentive to others’ goodness. What are the positive qualities of others in your life? Do you focus on those qualities more than the bad ones? Start disciplining yourself to seek out the things you appreciate about people despite their shortcomings.
Take this a step further by letting people know the ways in which you appreciate them. People rarely get acknowledged for the good things they’ve done. Showing an appreciation of others spreads kindness; when you spread kindness, it will naturally warm your heart.
Being giving to others unconditionally requires digging into your own heart to see how giving you are capable of being. Do this without compromise.
Get physical. It is no accident that cardiovascular training is such an important element of having a healthy heart. It is crucial to help you have a strong heart, good circulation, and an uplifted mood. Studies have shown that exercise is a powerful tool in our fight against depression.
Finally, stay well-hydrated during the hot summer heat. The color associated with fire is red, so enjoy fresh watermelon, tomatoes, and raspberries during this hot and glorious season.
Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is lavendermamas.com.