In Chinese Medicine, Summer is the season of the Fire element – a time for expanding and growing. So it is 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.
With the solstice behind us, and some warmer weather now here, following the heatwave in Europe, we are now enjoying a time of lighter mornings, and longer sunny days. We see nature expanding around us with an abundance of vibrant flowers, vegetables, trees and shrubbery.
Summer is associated with the Fire element. The dynamic energy this gives us means it is a time for expansion and growth – a time to move forward to activate plans and decisions. Fire provides us with the energy to promote activity, excitement, communication and connection, warmth and love.
Impact on emotions
The emotions associated with the Fire element are joy and sadness.
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.
The Heart is our centre and has a special connection to all the other organs in the body. The Heart is the ‘Ruler of the Sovereign’ and has the responsibility to direct clear insight and influence. Su Wen (Chapter 8) states:
“The Heart holds the office of lord and sovereign. The radiance of the spirits stems from it” (Larre and Rochat de la Vallee, 1992b, p33).
The energetic systems of the Heart (Yin) and Small Intestine (Yang) are associated with the Fire Element along with two functions called the Heart Protector (Pericardium) and Triple Burner. The Fire Element governs the blood vessels and the Heart constantly pumps Blood around the body providing us with this dynamic life force.
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.
Protecting the heart
The Small Intestine energy gives us the ability to sort through ideas, thoughts or emotions. It also sorts out the waste from the much needed nutrients in the body.
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 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.
Ways to support and strengthen your Fire energy
- Mint or Cucumber in tepid water or mint tea 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, so something to be mindful of particularly over the sociable summer months!
- Try practising a simple Qi Gong exercise called ‘The Inner Smile’. Begin with a smile and take a deep breath inwards letting the smile and feeling of it radiate downwards in the body to relax the Organs.
- Choose exercise that you enjoy, as this will support and strengthen your Fire element.
- Reflect on what brings you joy, passion and enjoyment in life.
- Activities that support your connection with yourself and others will support your Fire energy. This can include connecting with others socially, politically or ethically, connecting with pets and animals and nature around us.
- Activities that generate passion and enjoyment, singing, dancing, sport will also help.
- Meditation and yoga will help calm the Shen and Mind,
- Come and have, or continue to have 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, calming your Shen and Mind. Acupuncture can help to strengthen your Heart protector and harmonise your Small Intestine and Triple Burner energy.
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.