Cultivating Joy &
Nurturing the Heart
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
As the vibrant energy of summer permeates the northern hemisphere, nature presents us with an opportunity to embrace joy and nurture the heart. In Chinese medicine, the summer season corresponds to the Fire element, which governs the heart and its associated emotions. According to this ancient wisdom, fostering joy and harmony during this time can have positive benefits for our overall well-being.
The heart holds an essential role in Chinese medicine, often referred to as the Emperor of the organ systems. It houses the Shen, which encompasses consciousness, emotions, and spirit. It governs not only the physical functions of blood circulation but also the emotional landscape within a person. When the heart is in a state of balance, joy flourishes, and we experience a sense of fulfillment, acknowledgment and connection with others.
The summer season, with its longer days, abundant sunshine, and thriving nature, provides the perfect backdrop for cultivating joy. The sun's warmth and light nourish the heart and encourage its innate capacity for love, compassion, and happiness. Just as the flowers bloom and the fruits ripen, our hearts are invited to radiate their fullest potential.
The emotion associated with the heart is joy, but it is important to understand that joy in Chinese medicine is not merely momentary happiness or excitement. It is a profound state of inner contentment and peace that arises from a balanced heart. When the heart is imbalanced, we may experience excessive excitement which can manifest as mania or hyperactivity, or a lack of joy, leading to depression or emotional apathy.
Therefore, the key to a stable and consistent state of joy within the heart is to cultivate joy and support the heart during the summer months in the following ways:
1. Embrace Nature's Bounty: Engage in outdoor activities, bask in the sunlight, and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Take walks in parks or hike in the hills, practice Qi Gong or Tai Chi outside or simply sit under a tree and observe the wonders around you. These activities not only nourish the heart but also provide opportunities to connect with the earth's energy and the vibrant life force of summer. Explore online classes Here.
2. Mindful Eating: In Chinese medicine, food is seen as medicine. During summer, focus on incorporating cooling and hydrating foods into your diet. Opt for fresh fruits like watermelon, berries, and citrus fruits, as well as leafy greens, cucumbers, and mint. These foods can help clear heat and promote heart health. Avoid excessive spicy, greasy, and heavy foods that can burden the heart and create internal heat. Learn more about healing with foods by exploring the certificate course on Integral Nutrition.
3. Cultivate Emotional Balance: Practice cultivating positive emotions and letting go of negative ones. Engage in activities that bring you joy, whether it's spending time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, or engaging in creative endeavors such as flower arrangement, gardening and art projects. Engaging in heart-centered activities and nourishing relationships can support emotional well-being and foster a sense of joy.
4. Harmonize Body and Mind: Engage in practices that integrate the body and mind, such as meditation, contemplation and deep breathing exercises. These practices can help calm the mind, reduce stress, and support the heart's balance. Regular meditation, even for a few minutes each day, can have a profound impact on nurturing joy and inner harmony. Learn Happy Heart, Healthy Heart Meditation Here.
5. Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine: Seeking the guidance of a skilled Chinese medicine practitioner can provide further support in balancing the heart and cultivating joy. Acupuncture treatments can help regulate the flow of Qi and bring about an immediate calming and provide grounding for the Shen, your spirit. Herbs like ginkgo, schisandra and ginseng in the Fire Element formula enhances the energy of the heart, promote clarity of the mind, nurture the spirit while keeping the heart fire from becoming excessive.
In summary, summer is a special season for nurturing your Fire Element and its corresponding organ system of heart and circulation, experiencing its emotions of joy and contentment while freeing your spirit to express through creative endeavors while cultivating connection with divine nature.