Let's use this summer solstice and season to expand, invigorate and uplift ourselves, always, but especially after all that we've gone through in the last year with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic!
The summer solstice is truly a time to embrace and honor the expansive, social, expressive, energetic and strong aspect of ourselves. It is the longest day of the year and has the power to give light, and to illuminate our inner being and our external world.
Especially for those of us in the northern hemisphere summer is a very invigorating and uplifting time that most of us look forward to and treasure.In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer is associated with the Fire element. It is the most 'yang' day of the year. The extra hours of sunlight give us the time to nurture our passions and creative energies. Because the power of fire is felt most intensely in summer, this may be the best time of year for us to light our own fires and or help someone light theirs. We can use this energy to restore us if we are feeling weak or build and harness this energy that will be consumed throughout the rest of the year.It is a season for growth and awakening, birth of maturation and gives us the time and power to fully celebrate life in its bounty much like the gardens bursting with flowers, fruits and vegetables.
So how do we go about using this season of abundance to feed our souls and give ourselves permission to recharge our batteries and be all that we can be?Lets fully engage our 5 senses as 5 Self Care Summer Practices:
1) LISTEN to the birds and the bees, frogs croaking, children playing and the sounds of laughter.
This is also a time to listen to and trust your intuition. When we know something in our heart to be true, we are connected to a deeper part of our intellect and understanding and can more easily maintain internal peace and harmony.
The Heart is the main organ associated with summertime and the fire element. While the heart is considered to be the center of the circulatory system and responsible to pump blood throughout the body, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the responsibilities of the Heart also extend to the emotional and spiritual realms. If you want to learn more, check out this Heart blog.
Summer is a time to enjoy being happy and easy-going. Embrace excitement, create joy and allow your enthusiasm for life and creative projects to blossom. Refrain from anger, resentments and holding grudges as they stagnate our free flow of energy and can create unnecessary heat in the body. Remember that this is a time for growth and expansion. Allow yourself to stay out a little later, socialize with people who bring you joy, make time to play, experience life and go on an adventure or two but be sure to balance it with some downtime and relaxation so that you can recharge your batteries daily. Downtime can include things like midday siestas, meditation, or simply reading a book while lying in a hammock outside.2) TOUCH and connect with nature daily. Spend some time barefoot on the trails and in your backyard. Go berry picking. Gardening is the ultimate gift to yourself to not only engage in all the different textures but to also enjoy the fruits of your labor thereafter. Connecting with mother nature daily will ground the fire energy and give you life force.
Enjoy moving your body outdoors as much as possible. Dance the night away and engage in activities that bring you joy. I personally love rollerblading and sunset walks. I am also looking forward to getting some swimming in with the kids and we're planning some tubing adventures on different rivers around Alberta. Water, being the opposite of fire, offers a great balance to help soothe the fire element and cool off the body.We must remember that heat rises and if it becomes too excessive we will experience disharmony especially in the upper part of our body with symptoms such as excessive perspiration, hot headedness which can lead to skin eruptions or rashes as well as headaches, restlessness, agitation, irritability and anxiety. Restless sleep and insomnia, palpitations and irregular heart beat can also present themselves.
3) Stop and SMELL the roses and all the other summer scents such as fresh cut grass, the intoxicating aroma after a refreshing rain, blossoming trees and flowers, BBQ’s, fresh herbs and spices and so much more.4) Let us appreciate and SEE the full spectrum of colors - in our food, the clothes we wear, in our home and yard, in the new places we explore, in the gifts we give, and in the art that we create. Lighten and brighten up! I challenged you to drop the black, brown, and grey from your wardrobe…it may be time to go on a little shopping adventure!!??5) Finally, stay well hydrated and eat slow enough to savor and capture the TASTE of everything you put in your mouth. This is truly the season to enJOY!
We can counteract an imbalance of rising energy and heat by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that have a high water content such as: apple, lemon, peaches, plums, nectarines, berries, kiwi, watermelon, oranges, pears, pineapple, melons, tangerines, cucumbers, spinach, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, radishes, sweet corn, mint, dill, cilantro and all green herbs. Also include bitter greens like endive, escarole, spinach, kale, and swiss chard. This is the only time of year that you will likely hear me encourage, on the whole, to eat more cooling raw foods such as salads. Because we live in a society where the majority of us have weakened digestive systems, I typically advocate for a more cooked food diet rather than raw. See my blogs on Chinese Dietary Principles 101 and Food Choices and Habits to learn more about food and eating. Eating only raw foods may damage and stagnate the digestive system so be sure to also incorporate sautéed, steamed and boiled foods. Oh and don’t be shy to have some fun with the BBQ this summer!Avoid excessive coffee and alcohol intake as well as eating too much hot, spicy and dry foods.
The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere is June 20th at 9:32pm MST. I invite you to rise earlier with the sun this summer, check in and connect with yourself, give thanks, light your own fire and unlock your creativity! With people that bring you joy, light many fires. Dance, sing songs, exchange stories, unleash your spirit and celebrate. Give yourself permission to be reinvigorated and enJOY the summer!
You deserve it!