Fire and Excitement

Fire and Excitement

We have been under a deluge of rain in the Washington, DC area these past 3 weeks. By this time of year in Washington it is usually hot, and I would long to be in the shade during my walks, and wondering why the spring is so short. Not this year. Despite the idea that according to the Chinese calendar we are already in summer, it doesn’t feel like it. It is about 60 degrees outside and yesterday it was in the 50s.

But what is the heat of the summer about in Chinese Medicine? For one it’s about warmth and the way that the heat allows energy to move and flow. Obviously, heat does this in the opposite way of cold and Winter, when you want to go inside, keep warm saving your energy, and be still and quiet. When it’s warm you move more, get outdoors, take the time to enjoy.

There’s a natural excitement that we expect when we move into summer and experience that we refer to as the fire element. In our emotional lives, we rely on our relationships for warmth. We know our hearts as the place that responds to the temperature of our relationships. Sometimes there is warmth there, and sometimes we are searching for it, whether we talk of familial relations, friendships, or romance. But there is an undeniable excitement that we experience when we have the opportunity to have our heart be open and felt.

Sometimes the excitement we seek feels dangerous from the place of our own vulnerability, but many of us feel the intoxication of that special place where we allow ourselves the opportunity to become intimate and therefore warm and honest with another person. This is the definition of the fire element working for your health and wellbeing where you can assess the possibilities of creating your own source of fire and warmth in your life.

Hopefully, when you do this it’s a slow burning fire which allows for sacred moments of understanding and growth for you. And of course not a fast burning flame that quickly burns down. (No matter how initially sweet this might seem!)

The virtue associated with this Fire element in Chinese medicine is propriety. It has taken me decades of thinking and watching all relationships to have any sense about this at all. After all, we live in an age of live and let live. What does it matter if people go into a relationship for what they believe might be a very short term. We assume adult actions require taking responsibility for choices.

But as I have pondered this idea of propriety I have begun to think that it is really about respecting the capacity of your own and the other person’s heart. What are you capable of offering to the other person? Do you even know? Can you assure your heart that you are taking good care of it? While it isn’t separate from you, isn’t it curious how often we don’t really know what the heart wants?

But we do know that we all have this fire element that moves along the cycle along with the other elements of wood, earth, metal and water. And that what we crave from the fire is warmth. So isn’t it a good beginning point to wonder can you get warmth from this person? Can your heart feel safe? Can you extend yourself beyond your comfort zone in this relationship?

Over the years, I’ve heard many definitions of what constitutes propriety but I think that the one that works is what works for your heart. Let’s consider what helps the heart to strive and then go back and redefine what propriety is. Maybe there will be something less narrow than the traditional thoughts on propriety.

In the meantime, may I offer the blessing that whatever you do may your heart thrive in this Fire season, and may you only extend yourself in relationships where you are loved and appreciated.

In light and love,


Summer is Coming

Summer is coming!

According to the Chinese calendar summer began May 4, just 2 weeks ago. I can always feel that shift, when I’m walking with only a light jacket and am aware of the wetness from the frequent showers. We are in a transition time.

This is a moment of spring fullness, just before summer when you notice that the azaleas are out, dotting the yards with pinks and purples and whites. They are intoxicating in the way color now dominates the yards. The irises are almost ready to burst forth. The blooming of the flowers shows us that the summer is a breath away. The sun will come out, the azaleas will fall, and we will take off our jackets and feel the upcoming heat.

To prepare I have a few recommendations:

• Start eating less. The variety of veggies and fruits make it easy. Start enjoying the greens of kale, swiss chard, and arugula.
• Get more exercise. Walk or jog those five miles a day that you know that you really want to add to your day, but don’t forget to keep doing your tai chi or Qigong to help you keep the qi moving.
• Open your heart. Yes, that’s right. The fire element of the summer is all about the heart. Start planning the many ways to spend more time with your sweetheart, friends, and family.

Enjoy the Summer.

There will be more on the Fire element and the movement of the heart next week.