SEASONS OF THE BREATH:
SUMMER - TENDING YOUR INNER FIRE
During the summer months, the growing yang energy of springtime’s fresh buddings reaches its zenith, and nature blooms in full maturity. During this expansive time of great flourishing and blossoming, summer is a great season for us to fully delight in and to enjoy the fruit of what we’ve seeded and tended with loving care during the springtime. But during this period of fullness, we will still need to continue watering, pruning and protecting not only the blossoms of the plants, but of our plans and visions that have their roots in the soil of our heart’s aspirations and longings. Like the summer rains softening the parched earth, we must continue to be vigilant and water the garden of our inspirations and creativity.
Summer marks the ascendance of the supreme yang energy of the Fire element in nature and in us. During this blessed time, we can receive and share the warmth that bathes our world with light, energy, expansion, and vitality. Our hearts can become like the sun, radiating light, love and joy into the world. As we follow nature’s cyclic rhythm and open up to the fullness of our own flowerings during the summer, we can then move on with graciousness and ease into the autumn’s phase of releasing and letting go.
WHAT IS THE STATE OF YOUR FIRE?
Strong and abundant Fire energy is necessary for human beings to experience inner joy, passion, optimism, vision and purpose in life. It is also essential in fuelling warm and intimate relationships with others, as well as enabling us to express ourselves fully. The power of Fire that infuses our bodies, minds, hearts and Spirit bring the radiance of the sun’s yang energy into our lives, allowing us to stretch to the heights of our human capacities.
So, what is the state of your Fire?
Not unlike how a healthy plant will quite naturally produce flowers, when we are healthy and whole we generate a strong and balanced fire. When our Fire is healthy, it is a reliable inner thermostat that indicates when it’s the right time to expand outwardly or when to gather and withhold; when to be warm and open towards someone or when to be more vigilant and protective; when to allow joy and laughter to burst freely forth or when to be silently receptive and sensitive to the pain of another being.
Self-inquiry is always a good skill to develop so that we can harness the power of Fire to balance and enrichen our lives, and to foster happy and healthy relationships with others, as well as to give of ourselves to those who are in need of our healing presence and compassion.
BALANCING THE FIRE ELEMENT
In the natural world, the Fire element can exhibit either excessive or deficient patterns of disharmony that bring destruction and dis-ease. Think of the raging forest fires that erupt when there is drought and long periods of unabated high temperatures. Or of torrential rainstorms causing rivers to overflow their banks during the monsoons, flooding entire villages. Our human anatomy is subject to similar patterns of disharmony.
According to TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) the Fire element manifests in our bodies through the heart, small intestine, and pericardium. An additional function called the triple burner, which regulates the internal body temperature, is the fourth organ-meridian system connected with the Fire element. Like all of the organ-meridians, these four are not limited to the physical domain, but are complex systems which involve and deeply affect aspects of the mind, emotions and our spirit. So, besides their physiological function, each of the Fire element organ-meridians also function at the invisible level of vital energy or qi.
THE FIRE ELEMENT AND OUR SHEN
In TCM the heart is considered of central importance to the Fire element because it is home for the Shen, which is the mental-spiritual aspect of our consciousness that rules over all aspects of wellbeing and good health. Sometimes Shen is simply translated as spirit or mind, and its health and strength is evident and visible in the aliveness radiating through a person’s eyes, their atmosphere, and their expression. There are a number of primary functions which a strong Shen supports:
- We’re able to be fully conscious and present, which enables us to be physically, emotionally and spiritually self-aware;
- There’s clarity in our thinking, and we are able to engage in problem solving with a clear objective in mind;
- We can express ourselves clearly, honestly and openly with others;
- We maintain a good short term memory, and don’t get overly distracted or absent-minded;
- We are able to sleep well and experience inner peace;
- Our mood and spirit are uplifted, and we feel optimism, trust, enthusiasm and hope towards the unknown future;
- We can connect emotionally with our hearts, which gives us ease in being open, vulnerable and authentic in our relationships;
- We have warmth, empathy and compassion for others
In a nutshell, when our Shen and heart are harmonious, we experience a natural joy and can find meaningfulness even in the most ordinary things. Our minds are calm, emotions are peaceful and steady, and we are in tune with all of nature, the universe and the Divine
However, If our inner fire is either deficient or excessive, myriad signs of imbalance can arise, which will be reflected in the wellbeing of the associated organs and meridians, our emotions, and our Shen. Some general symptoms include sleep disturbances, anxieties, heart palpitations, disorders of blood pressure, and short-term memory problems.
When the Fire element is in excess there will be signs of being over-heated. An excess of Fire in the heart will always affect the Shen, diminishing its ability to ground us in inner peace and clarity. This can manifest as being stuck in over-expansive states of consciousness and behavior that keep pushing on and never retreating. Further manifestations of excess can show up in sleep disorders, anxieties, psycho-emotional agitation and imbalance.
Excess Fire also affects the fluid content and its circulation in the body, causing dehydration and drying up our internal reservoirs and pathways. There can be signs of this in painful inflammatory conditions of the joints, throat and sinuses as well as in the dryness of the skin, lungs, and mucous membranes. Often there will be profuse and frequent sweating, red skin eruptions, and problems around digestion like constipation, urinary tract disorders, and gynecological issues.
On the other side of the spectrum, a deficiency in the Fire element gives signs of coldness. When our fire is low and we don’t experience an inner vitality, there is a lack of joy and ease in sharing with others. Even if we long for this, there is often deep loneliness, aloofness, sadness, fear of rejection and inhibition blocking the way forward.
When our Shen lacks strength, we can feel cut off from the warmth and belonging of relationships, and our outlook easily becomes negative, bleak, dark, and depressive. On the physical level, lack of Fire leads to qi, blood and fluid circulation problems. We may experience chills, numbness of the extremities, sluggish digestion, chronic tiredness and metabolic dysfunctions. The lungs can lose their ability to expand and contract fully, resulting in poor oxygenation of the blood, chronic coughing and nasal congestion.
FURTHER SUPPORT FOR A HEALTHY AND HAPPY INNER FIRE
If we commit ourselves to tending our Fire, this will be expressed outwardly in our lives as more joy, purpose and fulfilment. Our hearts will naturally blossom with the beautifully-hued petals of love, compassion, and kindness. And as we continue to consciously draw on the expansive warm of the Fire element, we can enthusiastically reach out and share our gifts with the world from the place of inner abundance and self-sufficiency.
Here at Quan Yin Wellness Consultancy we are here to support you in strengthening the power of your inner Fire and Heart. Whether for short term individual consultation or for our Seasons of the Breath Online classes or retreats, don’t hesitate to contact us. Go to our Seasons of the Breath and Individual consultation pages to make an appointment today!