Oh May! Magnificent May! You shepherd in the early summer! I am outside as I write this—sitting on my front steps listening to a chorus of birds and insects, watching my cats frolic and lounge in the sun.
If autumn is the time that nature lets go, winter is the time of contraction and deep rest, and spring is the time of the new life pushing forth through frozen soil, summer is the time of the full blossom, the growing and expansive season .Even though the modern calendar says that summer won’t begin for another 5 or so weeks, look outside. What you see—well--THIS is the energy of summer!
The trees are now in full leaf. Summer perennials are unfolding their greenery. Last week I took a workshop out at Blueberry Gardens in Ashton and spent my lunch periods wandering in the fields. The blueberry bushes were in full blossom, just beginning to set fruit. Bees were buzzing everywhere. Birds are swooping in and out, talking to each other in a constant chorus of song. The sun is ever-present—rising earlier and earlier, setting later and later. From now until the Summer Solstice there is a rapid lengthening of the days, more brightness, more growth, more fullness. This is the season of growth, unfurling, connection and brightness.
You can feel it walking on the streets. Just few weeks ago, we may have hurried along, bundled up against the wind but now we are opening up, calling out to our neighbors, stopping to chat. We are scheduling parties, BBQs, reaching out and looking for fun.
In Chinese medicine we associate the summer with the element of fire—the brilliant fire of the sun and the slower, more intitmate fire of the campfire It’s a time we come together to play, laugh, tell stories. Summer is a season of joy and connection.
The ancient Chinese medical classics tell us that to live well we simply need to live in harmony with the seasons. This seems like very basic advice and for those of us who are dancing with chronic or severe symptoms it may feel like a vast oversimplification but truth be told its the very beginning of feeling better.
For many of us in modern society, the natural rhythms of the seasons are not truly present in our work and family life. We are equally busy all winter and summer. We are inside all year long. We get up at the same time whether its June or December. But as creatures of nature, we evolved to live differently, to follow the ebb and flow of nature—to allow for cycles of rest, work and play.
Whether you are feeling poorly or if you are feeling just fine, you can deepen your sense of health wellness by allowing your body to sink into summer. Here are a few practices to help your body, mind and spirit unfurl this summer:
- Get outside. Move out from the air conditioning and talk a walk, noticing all the activity around you. Listen to the birds and the insects,, listen to the sounds of people on the street, to kids playing in a playground. Greet your neighbors or the strangers on the street.
- Reach out and connect. If you have a friendship that has grown quiet over the long winter months, reach out and have a heart to heart or just catch up. Schedule a game of golf. Take a picnic to a park together or sit on a bench with a coffee. If they are far away, schedule a phone date.
- Plan for fun! Sure there is a lot of work to be done this time of year, and make sure you create space for celebration. Whether its a trip to the beach, a summer BBQ party, a camping trip, or day at the pool make sure there is room for joy, good times and a change of scenery
- Play some games—softball, Frisbee, volleyball, tennis, sharks and minnows, tag, charades—the sky is the limit. If its raining out sit on the porch or at the table with some good old fashioned board games. Play is the operative word.
- Do something spontaneous. Knock off work early and head out to a movie. Make spur of the moment reservations for a romantic dinner with your sweetie. Dance in the rain. Dance anywhere.
- Have a passionate discussion about something you love--food, art, sports, music, politics, theater,gardening, books, technology--whatever floats your boat. Tell the world what you love about it!
If you are feeling too tired to do these things, chances are you may still need a little more rest. Many of us struggle in the beginning of spring and summer if we have not been able to adequate let go and rest in the autumn and winter. In that case:
7. Honor your body’s need for R&R now by swinging on a hammock or laying down in the grass to take a nap. Sit on the porch with some lemonade and let your neighbors greet you. Lay on a lounge chair at the pool (with proper sunscreen of course!) with a good book. Allow yourself to rest so that you can rise up and blossom this summer.
And of course, if you re still feeling out of sync an acupuncture appointment can help you dance with whatever life is throwing at you—be it a sore back, fatigue, digestive issues or anxiety. You can always make an appointment and we can talk further.