The Heart of Summer


Summer is the season the Fire element, of which the Heart and Small Intestine meridians are governed (as well as the Heart Protector and Triple Heater.

But, patience, we will get there in another post..

As far as meridian pairings go (and they all function as a pair: one yin, one yang) you may wonder what the heart has to do with the small intestine.

I'm so glad you asked!

Geographically, both organs are the most centrally located... the small intestine as a spiral of sorts in the lower body, the heart in the upper.

Energetically, they are both about assimilation and integration. The SI is the last stop for your food on the way from being what you eat to becoming what you are. And the heart, or Heart, has been traditionally said to 'house the Shen', or spirit, or mind. Your spirit can be viewed as your core, 'Who You Are' and is made up of all you have taken in and become as such thus far. In other words, assimilation and integration.

The organs themselves are also located in the regions the second and fourth chakras: the SI in the center of gravity and physical energy, and the heart as the intersection of the forces of heaven and earth, the spiritual and the material.

Back to the Fire

It's the most expansive of the all the elements, the most energetic and active. It's about transforming power, light, warmth, excitement, movement and responsiveness. Fire nature is expressed in people as enthusiasm, joy, passion, spirituality, and warmth, but can easily get out of control, especially in the way of feeding on emotion, inciting riot, and causing or feeling destructive burn-out.

In the summer, the most yang time in the cycle, we are more active, outward-oriented, and for most (but not all) of us, joyful. Summer is the 'peak of expansion and the richness of manifestation'.(*) We are drawn to activities and foods that bring a cooling effect, especially water, which is yin. But we also tend to load up on other yin stuff like cold, sugary foods and tropical fruit. Care must be taken not to overdo it, as these extremes will affect our immunity once the weather changes again.

Also, icy and sugary foods are very tough on the Stomach/Spleen, (the next pair of meridians in the cycle ruled by late summer), impairing digestion by 'cooling digestive fire', and making the transition to the next season difficult... manifesting as irritability, fatigue, colds and flu.

The best foods to enjoy during the summer months.....both for their cooling effect and maintenance of better balance as we transition to autumn are:

  • melons: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc (note: watermelon is probably the most yin of these.. adding a pinch of sea salt balances that as well as brings out more flavor)
  • other fruits fresh and local to your area
  • lightly cooked vegetables and salads
  • foods with a bitter taste, like certain greens (watercress, arugula, kale, carrot, radish and turnip greens)
  • cool roasted barley tea (roast your own or buy it here)

(Interestingly, one of our (American) cherished summertime rites includes the barbecue. This style of cooking most definitely creates the bitter taste, especially when the grill gets left unattended in favor of the croquet game. But, energetically, this is one of most imbalanced foods you can eat...especially if it's BBQ'ed meat... too yang, too much fire. Coffee also, is an exception, and a craving for that bitter taste (of which I admit to having) can suggest a Fire imbalance. In fact, the negative effects of coffee include some of the symptoms of Fire imbalance: anxiety, frenzy, insomnia, palpitations, sweating, hypoglycemia, and burn-out)

So, enjoy your summer, but not too much.

Nah, I'm just kidding. But do take care to recognize that the expansive energy can only expand so far, that it is easy to overextend yourself.. overplanning, doing too much, running too hot, and like literal fire, it burns only as long as there's something to consume. You are energetically burning the Wood energy from spring, and the ashes become the Earth energy of late summer. Prepare your soil consciously and you'll have enough resources to get through the colder months ahead.

Other element-related posts:

Five Elements: An Intro

Wood v Earth

Meet Your Meridians: Water