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It's Summer time... and the living is easy, when you follow these great TCM Summer tips!
The Summer Solstice isn’t until June 21st, but these 90 degree days are making me feel like Summer is here! For me summer means farmers markets, fresh veggies, warm nights, and BBQ’s with friends and family. As soon as this season hits, you can find me in our backyard on the hammock! This season is a time for growth not just for all of the seeds you planted in spring, for your flowers and gardens, but for yourself! It is a great time for both mental and spiritual personal growth, which we will get to later!
YANG within YANG
Summer is the most Yang season in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which makes since because it is ruled by the element of Fire. It is full of abundance and the outward expansion of energy. The organs related with the Fire element are the Heart and Small Intestine. And thus the heart, mind, and sprit are the focus during this season.
The Heart “holds” the mind in Chinese Medicine. When the Heart is imbalanced we either have “lack of joy” i.e. depression, or we may have an excess in joy, i.e. manic behavior. Some other symptoms that come with and imbalance in the Heart, are nervous exhaustion, agitation, and insomnia. The summer is the time to start the meditation practices that have been getting neglected, or to add in the extra hikes or swims you have been missing in the colder months. Meditation gives the mind time to rest, regroup, and refocus on what is important to your mind, heart, and soul! While adding in a few more activities is a great way to get your blood circulation pumping!
The Heart physically circulates the blood through the body. And in Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a connection between the blood and the “shen” or our emotions. When the blood is deficient, the shen cannot be held, thus making us more agitated, nervous and fearful. But when the blood is abundant and can flow freely, the shen is calm. That is why both mental, spiritual, and physical practices are so important during this season.
As far as meditation goes, I know everyday we don’t feel like we have time to sit and meditate for 20 minutes or more, so I shoot for 5 minutes. I prefer guided meditations and love the app Simple Habits. They provide you with different guided meditations for 5 minutes each day, and of course you can do more then one round in a day if you want! I have found that the commitment of 5 minutes a day feels doable, and not like another task on my already long To-Do list! It gives me time to just sit and be in my body, and since it is on your phone you can do it anywhere! I have done it in my office in between patients, in my bed before I even get up, and even a few times in my car (before I start driving of course)!
So, lets talk about food in the Summer, because I love eating with the seasons! Summer is a great time to hit up your local farmers markets and score great deals on local veggies! If you live in Denver, one of my favorites, which started last weekend, is The Pearl Street Farmers market on Sundays! There you can buy a whole bag of local veggies for $10! I am talking like a whole potato sack of veggies! It is a steal! We usually go every other week and get our bag full, but with a bigger family you can stop by once a week, and it will still be cheaper then the store!
With the Summer heat, in TCM we focus on eating cool or yin foods, so our yang doesn’t go into excess, which is easy to have happen with how hot it gets! Below is a list of some great cooling foods to add to your diet this summer. And also make sure you are drinking lots of water! Adding cucumber to your water makes it even better and cooling for your system!
Here is a list of foods that are beneficial to eat in the summer months: