Summer is characterised by brightness, heat, activity, fruition and expansion. The shining sun stretches the days, the air buzzes with bees and flickers with butterflies. Seeds planted in the spring have grown into nourishing food, blossomed flowers colour our world. We are busy outside on the beach, at a bbq, camping, sporting, visiting friends and family and generally taking advantage of the long summer days and glorious Cornish sun.
In Chinese medicine we see the same sort of expansive hot energy at work within us. It is our Heart Fire. It is the pinnacle of Yang energy. Summer is the season that represents it with its bursting explosion of activity, fullness of fields and gardens, gregarious openness, levity and fun. Fire is the element that describes it, as it is magnetic, warming and transforming. It lives in the Heart, housing our spirit, our passion, our spark for life, inspiration, deepest knowing and desire. Most importantly, our relationships, our ability to give and receive love, make connection, experience intimacy and communion are all in the purview of Heart Fire. Joy is the emotion of the Heart, it’s light, and contagious. The sparkle in our eyes reveals a healthy Heart energy.
Heart Fire has 4 channels through which it is accessed. All the other energies that are described in Chinese medicine have two. It is considered the ruler of the others and it is crucial that we protect and care for our Fire as it is vulnerable to imbalance. Too much Fire can consume and destroy without boundary, think of a forest fire. Too little Fire can leave a person cold, uninspired, flat and isolated. Excess fire can show up in the body with cold sores in the mouth, hives, infections and inflammation like cystitis. You may experience hot flushes, sweaty palms, palpitations, anxiety, restless sleep and insomnia. Emotionally too much fire can show up with inappropriate laughter, talking non-stop, over commitment to projects, too easy to trust, being too open. Some mental illnesses have components of out of balance Fire. Too little Fire shows up paleness, low energy and motivation, cold hands and feet, restless activity, disturbed dreams, no light in the eyes, no vitality, a flatness or lack of joy. This is not the complete list but an imbalance with your Fire element can touch many areas of your life.
There is lots we can do to keep our Heart Fire healthy and in balance. Regular meditation helps to calm and centre your heart. Because a healthy Heart Fire is needed to be in any healthy (romantic or platonic) relationship, nurturing those relationships helps regulate your heart fire. Do what you need to in order to enjoy those close to you. (This is not a relationship advice blog… there are many out there. I’m just reminding you how important it is to prioritise the health of your relationships.) Do things that bring you joy. Put down your work, ignore the list of things to do spend time with your hobbies, make a date with your romantic partner, play with your pets. Whatever it is, go have fun! Doing this on a regular basis is just as important as eating well, sleeping well and having an exercise routine, but many adults discount the importance of making time for joyful playful fun. We can eat to support our Heart Fire. Cooling foods such as watermelon, cucumber, green tea, dandelion greens and celery help cool excess fire. Warming foods such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, basil, rosemary, oats, spelt, quinoa, sunflower seeds and walnuts can help engender a low fire. Always eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The colour red is the colour of fire so red foods are favoured, cherries, tomatoes, beetroot, raspberries, etc. Inviting red into your environment with fresh cut red flowers, burning red candles or wearing red supports Heart Fire.
This is a quick sketch of the some of the ways Heart Fire operates within us. Our Fire is that which “lights” us up, it is expansive, allows us to connect to others, it powers our passions and desires. It is vulnerable to imbalance so it is vitally important to tend to it so that we feel the warmth of a balanced fire, lovingly connect with those around us, experience the expansive power of joy, and allow our desires and passions inspire us.