• To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

    - Buddha
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The Heart of Summer

Summer Is In Full Gear, So Let’s Take Advantage of What Chinese Medicine Has To Say About These Long Summer Days!

For me, six words come to mind when thinking of the invigorating and enlivening experiences of summertime, they are: The Sheer Joy Of Being Alive!

summer joy by Dmitry Kichenko.

I feel totally imbued with the human spirit on a long, hot summer day. The farmers market abounds with juicy fruits and delicious veggies amidst the perfume of brightly hued blossoms. Activity is effortless and life feels full, transformed and somehow complete.

Needless to say, there is no complaining here about the heat because it won’t be long before we reach the dynamic height of summer’s inspiration and settle into a cooler, calmer and more collected fall.

So what does this mean for you in terms of body, mind and spirit?

Chinese Medicine teaches us to observe ourselves as an expression of Nature’s observable elements, depending on the cycle of the season and changes in the environment.  Just as Nature goes through a process of change, the Nature inside of you also undergoes a transformation.

If you are in harmony with the fresh green shoots appearing in spring then you will feel reborn, bursting with springtime activity. And when the trees are full of mouthwatering fruits and the plants are blossoming around you, then you will feel the joys of abundance coupled with the passion of the creative spirit.

Hmmm, an abundance of energy, stamina and passion!? Yes, clearly this is why I Love summer!

In the Five Element Theory, summer is ruled by the Fire element and is expressed through growth, joy, spiritual awareness and Love.  This is the Yang-est time of the year, which translates into a surge of physical, mental and emotional activity.

To be in sync with the long days, I wake up as early as 6:00am and stay up until at least midnight (it’s actually 1:48am while I write this post). Don’t worry to balance the work and play, I schedule a midday nap. Without my regular siestas I would be totally exhausted before summer’s end.

Anatomically, the Fire element corresponds with the heart which pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout our bodies. Emotionally, we’ve been warming up, going out and connecting with others. The heat of summer flows into our deeper relationships while our bodies relax around a more open heart.

In the Elemental theory, the heart houses the Spirit, also called the Spirit-Mind. A harmonious Spirit-Mind can be felt as a heart-connection with others and, for many of us, as a spiritual connection with Nature. This is a time that ushers in sensitivity and expression with the true contentment only known by a unified heart and mind. I view summer as an opportunity to transform negative experiences into feelings of Love.

Love is an extraordinary thing; it arouses the realization that the self and others are one. Love inspires what I call altruistic intimacy and the knowledge that what you cause and affect are one. Experiencing your heart’s purity reveals the responsibility we have for every action that occurs on our planet because we are one. Love between two people is a holy sharing when each have experienced their own depths and see their mutual identity and mutual causality through the starry-eyed gaze of eros.

Ahh, it’s easy to get swept away reflecting on the Fire element and Love, but let’s look at our original query: What does the long, hot days of summer mean for you in terms of body, mind and spirit?

Simple answer. The heart-felt enjoyment of family, friendship, perhaps even summer Love, but more importantly the exalting experience of the sheer joy of being alive!

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“One Gave Birth To Two”

Shiatsu relies on Traditional Chinese medical theory, which uses the philosophy of yin and yang. Beginning with male and female, day and night, hot and cold, summer and winter, everything in nature seems to maintain a certain balance of what appears to be opposites. 

The yin yang symbol perfectly illustrates the essential principles of the theory. The circle symbolizes the infinity of energy, or, ki. There is no beginning and no end. A curved, moving line divides the two forces showing constant flow of yin into yang and vice versa. Within the two colors is a dot of the opposite color. This shows that everything contains its opposite and that it cannot exist without the other. And, the two colors are proportioned, showing their relative balance.

The yin yang symbol perfectly illustrates the essential principles of the theory. The circle symbolizes the infinity of energy, or, ki. There is no beginning and no end. A curved, moving line divides the two forces showing constant flow of yin into yang and vice versa. Within the two colors is a dot of the opposite color. This shows that everything contains its opposite and that it cannot exist without the other. And, the two colors are proportioned, showing their relative balance.

This balance is described in Lao Tzu’s Tao Teh Ching: ‘the One begets the Two’. These ‘Two’ came to be known in Chinese as yin and yang, from which this system of opposition then gave birth to everything in the universe.

It is important to understand that yin and yang are understood as their mutual source (One) and subsequent transformations as one source of energy that creates into differing appearances.

Essentially, yin contains yang and yang contain yin through their constant flow into one and the other. As long as yin and yang are flowing into one another you are in a consistent state of balance.

Yin means the ‘shady side of a hill’, and is identified with the feminine aspects; water, quietude, the moon, and the night, while yang, means the ‘sunny side of a hill’, and denotes the masculine aspects; fire, noise, the sun, and the day.

The original ideograms of yin and yang clearly state that they are mutually transmutable and interchangeable as one, not as two fundamental entities, despite their dual appearance.

The quality of matter and substance is considered yin; this includes your body. The quality of movement and thought- the energy is considered yang.

The primary principal used to assess the individual’s state of life energy is yin and yang theory and it is used to describe the nature and location of the individual’s health imbalance. Each individual has a tendency to be either more yin or more yang in regards to their natural constitution.

If over a period of time either the yin or the yang forces dominate in an individual’s body or mind, then there will be an imbalance, which will manifest as recognizable conditions, or symptoms.

Your body also has aspects that are defined as either yin or yang. The yin side is the anterior side, or front of your body, and the posterior side, or your back, is yang. The anterior is yin because it has more areas that are considered vulnerable: your face, the front of your neck and your abdomen. Compared to the posterior side, which is more like armor and less vulnerable.