5 Phases, Fire and SUMMER!

The Five Phases, or Five Elements, is a philosophical system of correspondences. Each Phase- Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire- has a set of corresponding phenomenon such as season, organ, color, sound, taste, etc. The Five Phases interrelate in dynamic cycles. This explains why calling these Phases is more appropriate than Elements, which implies something that is static. Chinese Medicine practitioners often use the Five Phases in diagnosis and treatment.

In the Five Phase philosophy, the season of summer corresponds to Fire. Summer’s intense heat makes it the season where Yang is at its peak. During this time, we experience the most intense heat of the year, the longest days of sunlight, and nature at its maximum growth. During summer, we take advantage of the long days, and we are full of activity.

The organ associated with Fire is the heart, and the Shen, or spirit, rests here. Shen is often translated as Spirit, but a more appropriate English translation is Mind in the sense of the capacity to think, feel and respond. It is what makes us conscious and alert during the day, and what becomes inactive during sleep. The function spirit/mind encompasses mental activity, consciousness, memory, thinking and sleep. At the same time it refers to the emotional and spiritual life of a person.

When the fire element is unbalanced, we often experience emotional instabilities. We may either have a lack of joy (depression) or excess joy (mania). Fire is symbolic of maximum activity, and the movement is upward. Symptoms of excessive fire can include agitation, anxiety, mania, vivid dreams and insomnia.

Shen is observed in the clarity and luminosity of the eyes and complexion. When you see a person with cloudy eyes, they are said to have a clouded Shen. They may also experience depression or seem distant. In contrast, when a person’s eyes are bright and seem to smile, then they have a clear, balanced Shen. Clear, coherent speech is also indicative of a health Shen.

To balance Fire, 1) Eat more bitter foods. The ancient Chinese made this correspondence and it was proven last year in an Australian study which found that the heart has bitter receptors. It actually has half of all of our taste receptors. Incredible, right? Bitter foods include very dark chocolate (!), coffee, olives, citrus peel, bitter greens, tonic, etc. 2) Get Acupuncture and herbs 3) Elemental: Fire aroma blend by our own Pearl Apothecary balances Fire. The blend uses essential oils to promote the positive aspects such as joy, playfulness, curiosity, passion and energy while at the same time calming the spirit/mind. 4) Practice calming your mind with meditation. Just 5 minutes a day works wonders.

Happy Summer!