Summer Solstice: Being in Rhythm With the Season
Summer Solstice marks the time of year when days are long and temperatures rising.
From our Western, astronomical point-of-view, June 21st marks the first day of Summer. And since we’re cultivating an understanding of ‘seasonal energy’ or ‘Chi,’ now is a good time to point out that ‘energetically’ — as Eastern thinking goes — the Summer Solstice marks the mid-point of Summer rather than its beginning.
Whether or not this idea seems a bit unusual, just for the sake of exploration let’s consider what it might mean if Summer Solstice does mark the midpoint of Summer rather than its beginning.
What difference would it make in your life: besides being just a day on the calendar reminding us to wash the deck furniture and get ready for vacation?
Seasons Affect Your Organ-ization
We all know that each season of the year has its own unique characteristics and requirements.
In our minds, we know we need to change our wardrobes; that different kinds of events find their way onto our schedules; and (to some extent) we change our diet and the food we eat. At the same time, your body is making its own adjustments.
According to the 5 Element Theory used in Oriental Medicine, the major organ systems in your body also change with the seasons. Each season a specific organ system goes into ‘energetic overdrive”: Heart in Summer; Spleen/Pancreas in late-Summer; Lungs in Autumn; Kidneys in Winter; and Liver in Spring.
If you’re trying to manage your health in accordance with these natural rhythms, then finding out that Summer Solstice marks the midpoint of Summer, rather than its beginning, could be a problem.
It means that right now we’re way further into the ‘Fire’ energy of Summer then you thought, and you probably have not been making the necessary ‘lifestyle’ adjustments your body needs to stay ‘balanced’ in Summer. These adjustments are needed to offset the stresses Summer places on the Heart, and by association, the Kidneys.
Knowing Is Technology
Did the ancient Chinese think and act ‘seasonally’? Of course they did; they had to. They didn’t have any choice. They had no on-demand electrical lighting, no refrigeration for their food, or air-conditioning to keep cool in Summer. When it was dark, it was dark; when it was cold, it was cold. Knowing how to be in synch with the energetics of the season was their technology.
In the 21st century we have astounding technologies which enable us to disregard natural cycles and their rhythms. And to the extent we’ve lost that rhythm, to that extent we’re out of balance. And when you’re out of balance you stumble, and too much stumbling leads to falling down.
Increasingly that’s what’s happening to the general level of health these days; it’s falling down.
The message I want to end on is an uplifting one. Today we can enjoy the benefits of both Western and Eastern technology: the technical accomplishments of Western science and the intuitive knowing of Oriental Medicine.
As we see it at BIOM, the goal of healthy living is reached when we balance both approaches and thereby live a balanced life.
Asthma and Oriental Medicine
Having read a somewhat disturbing article that talks about more and more people being negatively affected by asthma due to climate change, I thought this would be a good opportunity to tell you a little bit about treating asthma from an Oriental Medicine point of view.
While neither Western nor Oriental Medicine have a cure for asthma, Oriental Medicine does have treatments for mitigating asthma symptoms which can bring much welcomed relief, and if you, or someone you love, suffers from asthma, you know how welcome that relief is.
Relief Is Possible
Oriental Medicine can’t promise dramatic relief of asthma symptoms in everyone, but because everyone’s body is unique, it makes sense to try Oriental Medicine for asthma relief—especially if what you’re currently doing isn’t helping or causing unwanted side effects. For example, I once treated a child with severe asthma, using only gold beads (a needle-free method of acupuncture), and his breathing improved significantly.
Proper diet and exercise can help strengthen the Lungs, which according to Oriental Medicine, also strengthens the Immune System. A vibrant Immune System is better able to combat allergens, bacteria and viruses that can weaken the Lungs and make you vulnerable to respiratory problems.
Treat the Lungs in Summer
Oriental Medicine is very attuned to how your health is affected during each season of the year: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. With each new season your body needs to adapt to new environmental factors like: temperature, amount of daylight, what foods are in season, to name a few.
Everyone knows in Autumn and Winter that the Lungs are vulnerable to infection by cold bacteria and flu viruses. This is also the situation in early Spring. It’s only Summertime when we can relax and enjoy being soaked by the seasonal warmth, making Summer the best time to work on strengthening the health of your Lungs.
My breathing has become more shallow over the past few months and recently I had an asthma attack. The herb formula you gave me opened my lungs up and I can breathe deeply again. Clearly I’m deeply concerned now and will follow your advice about how to rebuild my lung energy. Thank you, Kitty! — Testimonial
Tai Chi & Chi Kung for Your Lungs
Tai Chi and Chi Kung are excellent exercises for building and maintaining healthy Lungs. These gentle movements focus on physically expanding the Lungs, which increase your capacity to inhale more air. These exercises also focus your body’s ‘Chi’ or energy in a way that compounds the benefit your Lungs get by simply stretching them—it’s like giving your Lungs a massage with your muscles and your mind.
And while we’re on the subject of ‘exercise,’ if you suffer from asthma you should explore and understand the need to exercise your Lungs in a way that does not overtax them.
When the Lungs are weak, as they are if you have trouble breathing, strenuous exercise can deplete energy from your Lungs. That’s why Chi Kung and Tai Chi are prescribed for Lung health.
When people with breathing problems come to BIOM for treatment, I often show them one or two simple Chi Kung exercises they can do to get deeper breaths today, while we work on building stronger, long-term Lung health.
Early Spring: Rebuilding Kidney Energy
Rebuilding KIDNEY ENERGY at the beginning of Spring is very important.
KIDNEY ENERGY is weak after running full bore through the Winter, so it’s not uncommon at the beginning of Spring to feel lower back pain, weak knees or ankles; or more generally, any discomfort in the lower body, which is the domain of the Kidneys.
It’s particularly important to begin strengthening the Kidney energy as Spring energy takes over, and compels us to move and create: thats why we call it SPRING!
We feel the URGE! inside and out; to be creative! to do Spring cleaning! To get outside! work in the garden! start working on the house! The URGE! is to throw ourselves into whatever motivates, inspires, or just needs doing!
But after a long, slow Winter your body needs to warm up and begin rebuilding the Kidney energy that was depleted over the Winter.
So just as your car and your financial portfolio need periodic tuneups ... the changing seasonal energy from Winter to Spring ... from Water to Wood ... from Kidney to Liver is the time to begin ... REBUILDING KIDNEY ENERGY ...