In Five Element medicine, Summer is the season for growth, maturing, heart-centered connection, intimacy, joy, communication and happiness. Fire is the element associated with the season of Summer.
The events in the news this summer have been the very antithesis of the attributes of Summer Fire. Violence, unrest, miscommunication, greed, rampant fear and bigotry seem to be present everywhere we turn. It often seems too much to take in, too much for our hearts to process.
Discouragement, apathy, sadness, bitterness, lack of warmth (both physical and emotional), lack of passion and profound loneliness are natural responses to experiencing or witnessing trauma, cruelty, intolerance, bigotry, loss and indifference. Prolonged periods of these feelings with no relief can be a sign of an imbalance in the season of Summer. Our fire has run low.
Our hearts may literally ache with the pain and suffering that surrounds us, permeating us to our very core. But, how do we reconnect with our joy in times of great distress? We may even wonder…Should we?
Joy is the emotion essential in keeping the heart healthy and balanced. Joy comes in many forms from the subtle to high-intensity. Without regular engagement with this emotion that is key to our health and happiness, the heart grows heavy and unable to carry out our Divine Destiny, as it’s called in Traditional Chinese Medicine. People of faith may call it God’s purpose for your life. We were created to life a joy-filled life.
But, what if the burdens of the world seem too much? How do we counter the pain and suffering we experience? When sadness and loneliness start to feel overwhelming for you consider engaging in some of the following heart-centered activities:
Good conversation with a good listener– Never underestimate the power of open and honest communication. Be sure to engage with someone you can trust to handle your heart with gentle love and respect, someone who really hears you without having a compelling need to offer unsolicited advice or try to “fix” you. Let it all out. Don’t try to sanitize or “spiritualize” or explain your feelings away. The burdens you may be carrying weigh heavily upon your heart for good reason and, those burdens are not meant to be borne alone.
Encounter Beauty– Personally. I never fail to find beauty in the plant world. I’m fascinated by their structure, the limitless variety of colors, shapes and growth patterns and those mysterious flowers! Each bloom is unique to it’s species and sometimes even to the individual plant itself. Even a short walk in nature to commune with plants can lift my spirits. Whether you find beauty in art, music, a sunset, your lover’s touch, a child’s smile, or a beloved pet, take the time to have an encounter with something beautiful every day. Beauty soothes, moves and heals the heart like nothing else.
Laughter and Play– Though troubling times may seem like the last place for laughter and play these powerful (and highly underrated) expressions of Joy can literally transform our spirits. Laughter and play (unstructured time for fun) are some of the most healing things we can do for our battered hearts. If you observe the actions children you will notice that they will often drop their hurt, tears, anger–what have you–in an instant with an offer to play. And, while you’re at it don’t forget to laugh. Hang around with people who know how to have a good time, watch a funny movie, take notice of the playful antics of your pet. Remember what makes you smile and go find someone to share it with.
Loving Touch– Everyone needs touch. Gentle, soothing touch can go a long way in healing a troubled heart. It can be sexual or not, but it should always be respectful and clearly invited. Hugs, kisses, a hand on the arm, gentle tender caresses have profound healing power. Don’t be afraid to to ask for touch when you need it.
Honor Your Heartache– Though painful sometimes beyond words, wounds of the heart can both soften and strengthen us. They can teach us to respect and revere the frailty and sanctity of life. The can teach us to find the preciousness of the present moment. Give your heartache the honor and space it needs to teach you to become vulnerable to love. Let it teach you how to gently soothe and tend to your suffering and to the suffering of others.
Take a Break– Watching trauma and drama can be addictive. Turn off the radio and TV. Put away the paper and all electronic devices. Give your heart and mind a much needed rest. Instead, take a nap, go dancing, enjoy your favorite hobby, go for a walk or drive or go do one of the above activities. Have a weekly media fast; go at least 24 hours without picking up your phone or computer. Let your calls go to voicemail. I promise you that you will survive. Rest is essential in restoring balance and sanity.
A healthy balanced heart ensures that we have the strength to move through difficult times with grace, courage and clarity. A balanced heart doesn’t deny our pain and suffering but finds a place of joy in the midst of it.
Sending You Much Joy and Laughter,