Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer: The Growing Season

© 2010 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

My first spiritual mentor was the late psychic and down-to-earth meditation teacher, Betty Bethards. Betty and her Inner Light Foundation catalyzed my embrace of metaphysics and all things spiritual. Betty had this view of the seasons, slightly Joyce-ified:

Spring is when we set up our lessons for the year.

Summer is the growing season, when we sprout those seeds and learn a lot about whatever topics are on tap for our personal growth this year.

 Autumn is the harvest, when we reap the results of our learning.

Winter is time to rest and reflect on the year’s crop of inner growth—to give the soil and ourselves a break to gather our forces for the next round of bursting into bloom again in spring.

It’s summer, so let’s get growing!

What’s Your “Summer History?”

For sun worshippers and/or the athletically inclined, summer is often their best time of year. It’s a time for play and literal stretching of muscles. Summer’s an interface between the human body and the best the environment has to offer here in the Northern Hemisphere.

This isn’t true for everyone; I’m here to attest. In reference to the famous song Summertime, the living ain’t always easy. My most painful growth (I call it groanth) has come in July and August—especially August. I only figured out why recently. Here’s where it helps to know your astrology chart. During those months, the Sun passes over some planets in my chart that “light up” early wounding. If you have a certain time of year when you seem to have more trials than fun, it might be something similar. Also, I was born on the last breath of summer—eight hours before the Autumn Equinox. The month before a person’s birthday is often like “the dark of the Moon,” when one is completing a cycle before rebirth. Its meant to be an inner time, and mine falls smack on the cusp of the last hurrah of summer and Labor Day’s call back to school and real life. I share this with you for this reason. If you’ve never quite been able to catch the wave of summer or enjoy the psychological heat of the season, know you’re not alone.

Also know that as you accumulate growing seasons and are doing your work of stretching, navigating the seasons that are trickier for you will become easier. I question every single July and August why on earth I still live in a climate with triple-digit summers, sometimes for weeks on end. Talk about a preview of the Hot Place! Since my life has felt like hell often during those months, the metaphor fits—but I have to say, I’ve reached a point where summer is becoming my most productive creative season. And the learning “clicks” into place far more easily, since I no longer resist. There is hope!

Some Practical Tips for Staying Healthy with the Seasons

I’ve used acupuncture and other aspects of Oriental Medicine for many years as a central focus of my personal wellness program. One of my favorite books is Staying Healthy with the Seasons by Dr. Elson Haas.

Come summer, our attention shifts from the Liver and Gallbladder (Spring) to the Heart and Small Intestine. Oriental Medicine focuses on the body’s health or vitality according to energy flow. Invisible pathways called meridians are distributed throughout our bodies. The energy that flows through them is known as qi (pronounced and sometimes spelled chi). Martial arts like t’ai chi and qi gong enhance that energy flow and are used in the West more for their healing properties than a form of combat. (If they combat anything, it’s illness.)

With the Heart and Small Intestine as the primary organs of the season, it’s good to know when your Heart Qi is lagging. (This is the qi to your heart!) Some symptoms include skin rashes, heavy limbs, feeling sluggish, or feeling like your head is puffed up. One of life’s ironies: those cold drinks and ice cream we crave most in summer actually weaken heart qi, if overdone, especially when you’re very hot. Go figure! Here’s where moderation rules, even on the playground, which I certainly consider summer to be.

Another thing about Oriental Medicine: It’s like that old song, “The head bone’s connected to your neck bone, etc.” All the systems feed one another. If you’re stressed, Liver Qi is weakened. Not getting enough sleep? That weakens Kidney Qi. Eventually, those diminished energy flows make the qi to your heart not turn so well. My acupuncturist recommends avoiding excess air conditioning, which can weaken Lung Qi, and keeping the thermostat at 80o. (Talk about your hot flashbacks!) Another big no-no is sleeping with a fan directly on you. Wind slows circulation, and if it slows down enough during sleep, it could actually contribute to a heart attack. Suggestion: Use a low setting and a plug in timer to limit the fan to an hour or two while you sleep off the summer’s day.

As to the other summer-emphasized organ system, Small Intestine, it assimilates our nutrients. Symptoms it’s not working include fatigue, indigestion, the runs, and bloating. (Sounds fun, huh?) Doing a cleanse for a couple of days can help clear out a sluggish system. Things to avoid include meat, dairy, bread and sugar. It doesn’t mean don’t barbeque; just use smaller portions of meat and focus on vegetables and whole grains. Live enzyme foods help, too, like miso or organic yogurt a few times a week.

Summer would be a prime time to try acupuncture, herbs, and this wonderful healing system. After 25 years of being a devotee, I still go for seasonal tune-ups four times a year, even if everything is going well. We’re more vulnerable to getting sick during the changes of season, when our bodies are undergoing major adjustment. When you eat what’s “in season” and don’t try to fight the season with excess counter measures to change the temporary weather, you’ll be in the thriver’s seat.

Not fighting the wave of change is something good to remember in a more universal sense during the current Big Change Transits the sky is announcing all year. Go with the flow—or risk suffering, perhaps miserably—and at minimum being out of sorts for a long time.

Celebrate Summer Solstice!

I look forward to celebrating Summer Solstice with my Solsisters friends down by the riverside, as is our custom. We take a ritual dip as part of the celebration. Do your own rituals to focus on your growing season. Celebrate summer and the sun by revisiting my Summer Solstice post from 2009 on The Radical Virgo.

And by all means, play. Let’s not forget that #1 thing summer is for—and how much growth comes out of it. In fact, the vast majority of our growing as children into adults happens on the playground of life, both the literal one and the figurative one of lightness and humor.

Recess bell!

Photo Credit: Girl Stretching in the Field © Nejron |


Haas, Elson: Staying Health with the Seasons (Celstial Arts, 2003).

Village Press Newsletter, Summer 2010: Center for Optimum Health/Village Acupuncture, 300 Judah St., Roseville, CA 95678. Phone: (916) 786-0695

No comments: