Shiatsu is based upon traditional Chinese medicine and the Tao. These philosophies describe life according to the five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each of these elements represents a season in the year.
This article is the third in a series about Shiatsu and the seasons.
Winter and the Water element – a time of resting and replenishing our deepest reserves of energy, reflecting and philosophising about the previous year and what we want from the coming year.
Then, Spring and the Wood element – the time of year when we wake up, become more active and move forward, putting plans into action. We bring our ideas and dreams into reality.
Now as the year is moving on plants are in full growth, the flowers are all out and the insects are buzzing away. Many young mammals and birds will be reaching their full size and will start to leave the safety of home. We have moved into the season of Summer.
Summer and the Fire element
From winter through to summer Chi (a Chinese word similar to energy) has been expanding. With the arrival of summer Chi reaches its highest most expansive state.
The season of Summer and Fire is when all the stored energy of winter and Water are being fully utilised and so transformed. Seeds become buds in spring which become flowers in Summer. The Fire is therefore associated with transformation. Indeed we humans actually use fire to transform the ingredients of our food, fire is also used in ‘alchemy’ to transform metals and other materials.
Fire is also seen as purifying. In many of the world’s religions fire symbolises the presence of god. Lightning accompanies visions and prophesies in myths and stories, while the Old Testament’s burning bush speaks in the voice of God. Around the world the fires of church candles, the temple fires of ancient Greeks and the Kiva-fires of native Americans manifest the presence of the Gods in the houses devoted to their worship.
In the human body and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Heart is the main Fire organ. It has strong affiliations with love and relationship through human culture the world over and this meaning is more relevant here than its physical role of pumping blood around the body. Like a glowing hearth-fire, the Heart spreads warmth and intimacy to all who come within reach. The Heart is also able to receive love, allowing others, should we let them, to become closer to us. The emotion connected to the Heart is Joy, when our Heart feels nurtured and safe we find joy in the simplest of daily events.
However, if our Fire Chi is out of balance we can find that we are either too anxious to find joy or the joy has become forced – you may know someone who is only able to laugh and make happy remarks about things. Their Fire Chi may out of balance and they are unable to feel or express a broader range of emotions.
Here are some suggestions to balance and support your Fire element during the summer months.
- If you feel nervous and anxious try reducing or eliminating caffeine and alcohol. If you find this too difficult just notice how they artificially stimulate your Fire meridian creating anxiety and swings in mood, you may find this gives you the impetus to reduce these drinks.
- On warmer days you can finally eat foods such as salads, fruits etc. as they will have a cooling affect. However as the English summer is notoriously changeable be ready to make warming foods such as roasts and casseroles or make yourself a thick hot soup for lunch.
- Remember to take note of the wonderful things you have created in your life and allow some joy to touch your Heart.