Early summer is a delicious time of year, full of abundant growth and radiant light.
But as the days grow longer and warmer, some of us may be feeling lackluster, low in energy or like our inner fires of creative juice, inspiration, energy, libido and self-love are in need of some kindling.
After all, seasonal transitions can be challenging, and our bodies haven’t yet had a chance to rebuild the energy used during the winter and spring months.
Few people understood the effects of the seasons on our health and wellbeing better than the ancient Chinese philosophers. They believed in a five season year, associating each season with one of five elements—Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water—and early summer being associated with Fire. (In this respect, there is some similarity with the Western/Pagan understanding of the elemental energies, but for the purposes of this article we’ll be sticking to the Chinese approach.) It was believed that all parts of the universe, from planets to seasons to the human body, could be described in terms of these elements and the complex flow of interactions between them.
Five Element Theory is still used today by many practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine such as acupuncturists, herbalists and Shiatsu practitioners. But there are many simple practices that can help us to align with the seasonal energies and tap into thousands of years of experiential knowledge, to help nourish and balance Fire element at this time of year.
Why is this important?
Fire element is the element of love and all affairs of the heart. It grants us our capacity for warmth and connection, and governs the wellbeing of our hearts. The expansive Yang nature of Fire element provides joy, enthusiasm for life and creative spark; it ignites our hearts and illuminates our inner beings as well as the outside world. When our Fire element is in balance, we are able to receive and share love freely, we can feel pleasure and enjoyment, we laugh easily and feel trust, satisfaction and intimacy in our relationships. We have healthy boundaries, feel passion and vibrancy in following our life’s true calling, and bring more love and light to the world.
People with a well-developed Fire element tend to shine because they will be quite spirited and charismatic, with a love of talking, socialising and commanding other people to action. They will also tend to be energetic, creative and excitable, often with a keen sense of playful mischief. They love adventure but bore easily. They are often also highly intuitive and are generally perceived by others to be dynamic, decisive and confident.
However, like all the elements, Fire must be balanced in order to be healthy. People with an excessive Fire element may be prone to restlessness, overdoing it and aggressive and impulsive behaviour. Relaxation practices like Yoga, meditation or Tai Chi can be of great benefit. We see an excess of Fire on a global scale where there seems to be too much fire everywhere: war zones, burning forests, melting glaciers.
At the other extreme, a person with a depleted Fire element might seem like they have “lost their spark”—coldness, isolation, tiredness and depression (not enough or a cutting off of the creative/soul fire) can result. Other symptoms associated with Fire imbalance include heart trouble, apathy, poor circulation, anxiety and insomnia.
If your Fire element is in need of balancing, a course of acupuncture or Shiatsu can work wonders. Meanwhile, here are a few home practices to help you burn with the love of life!
For the Body:
Of the four organs attributed to Fire element, the heart is the most important. Chest-opening yoga postures such as Cobra, Tree and Anahata pose are great for bringing light and nourishment to the sacred heart space. “Shine from your heart and the rest will follow.”
Bellows breath, or Bhastrika, is a powerful pranayama practice to stoke your inner fire. It increases life force, and boosts energy and metabolism. Take a few deep, resting breaths, followed by 10 short, sharp inhalations and exhalations. You can increase to 20 rounds if it feels right for you.
The taste associated with Fire is bitter, so include some seasonal bitter greens like dandelion, arugula, watercress and kale in your diet. These nutritional powerhouses are packed with vitamins, they purify the blood and are fabulous for digestion. Ginger tea is also great for boosting inner fire.
For the Mind:
Work on trusting your intuition, the deeper knowing of the heart. Meditation and dreamwork are great ways to access this, as is taking a walk (barefoot if possible) in nature and noticing all you can by engaging your senses with the abundance all around you.
Immerse yourself in the colours, textures and smells. As well as being a great relaxation practice, vital for fire types, being in nature helps us to reconnect with the natural intuition, which we once used for survival.
Fire up your creativity! The emotion of Fire element is joy, so create a joy mandala. Using paint, collage or natural objects like stones, crystals and flowers which make your heart feel joyful, start at the centre and work outwards in circles. This is great fun with kids! Allow yourself the freedom and autonomy to explore and celebrate your uniqueness, innovation and creativity.
For the Home:
According to Feng Shui, a beeswax or soya candle, images of a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or placing bright red, orange or pink objects in the southern side of your home will encourage the flow of positive Fire element energy.
For the Spirit:
According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, Fire element presides over the bodymind as its “Divine Ruler.” To connect with the energy centres of the Fire element, close your eyes and place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly just below the navel. Take a few slow, deep breaths. This is a simple, powerful self-healing exercise, which will bring comfort and cultivate self-compassion at any time.
Host a barbecue or go camping and gather round a fire with your loved ones. The warmth and connection you feel is Fire element in action, and there’s nothing like gazing into the glowing embers to stoke the flames of your soul.
May your inner fire burn bright and radiate love to the world!
Author: Caroline Mellor
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Biswajit Das/Flickr