In this series of articles we have moved through the autumn, winter, spring and our journey together culminates in summer, the most active and expansive of all seasons.
We have learned how each season is governed by the force which ancient Chinese recognised as natural elements. Autumn is governed by the metal, which generates the water in the depth of the earth and enables the season of winter, water nourishes the element of wood which governs the season of spring and wood feeds the element of fire which governs the summer itself.
While the spring manifests the whole new cycle, out of the seed nurtured by the winter, the summer ripens all, allowing for the utmost expansion and fruition of everything in nature from plants to our own creative ideas and projects.
The cyclical phenomena in our world are generated by the interdependent relationship of natural forces which govern the progression through the elements, manifest different seasons, and lead to expansion, contraction, growth and decline of all in nature.
The element of fire
Fire, the element of summer, comes with warmth, light and movement. The fire of expanding life, lit at the onset of creation, blazes throughout the summer, shines in the spring, glows in the autumn and only flickers through the winter.
Summer’s direction is the south; birds naturally know it, plants know it and so do we. The colour associated with the fire element is red.
The major growth and outward movement can only be afforded by summer’s heat and light. During summer everything in nature is striving to reach its full potential and all that can bear fruit endeavour to flower and reproduce.
Summer sunshine and luscious nature, adorned in its most glorious colours, woos us outdoors to joyously play.
Summer wakes up the passion, sexual desire, creativity and liveliness. And of course, often even in our everyday language we speak of fire as a metaphor for passion, a wild flame that consumes or smouldering, slow burning expression of creative potential.
Heart and small intestine are the organs relative to the fire element as well as our tongue.
The most profound expression of fire nature is exhibited by our mind and consciousness. The ability to speak, the experience of emotional warmth, joy, and laughter all have fire quality to them. The bodily secretion of sweat is expression of fire element at work.
Our mind, divine inspiration, wisdom and concentration all bear a mark of a fire element.
The mystery of life
There is so much mystery to our hearts and it is an insult to nature to view it simply as a mechanical pump that propels the blood throughout the body.
Consider this: the heart beats 100 000 times a day, 40 million times a year, 3 billion times in 70-80 years of human life; it enables the movement of two gallons of blood per minute, 100 gallons per hour that travels through 60 000 miles of blood vessels.
The heart communicates with the rest of the body including the brain neurologically (through nerve impulses), biochemically (via hormones and neurotransmitters, biophysically (through pressure waves), and energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions).
A field of energy
The heart is the most powerful generator of electromagnetic energy in the human body.
It’s electromagnetic field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain. The electromagnetic field generated by heart and measured with magnetic field meter is 5000 times more powerful than that created by brain.
It is felt most strongly at the body surface and extends in all directions further than the currently available measuring devices can detect.
The whole of the body is enveloped in the electromagnetic field generated by the heart. The information embedded within that field is communicated to the external world through electromagnetic waves, reaching out from the body.
The blood flow, conducts electromagnetic impulses throughout the body so the blood carries electrical messages as well as a pulse waves.
A sense of connection
All living organisms including plants possess such electromagnetic patterns.
The Earth’s magnetic field a constantly shifting, living field contains us all. It provides the matrix through which we all materialise, weaving us all as a thread into one fabric of life.
Often an encounter with wild landscapes leaves us with sense of belonging, because we ourselves are intimate part of the ecosystem, of the Earth’s biosphere. Our birth is an event not only to our parents but to the Earth herself as well as the larger Universe.
When the dynamic electromagnetic field of our heart encounters the electromagnetic field of another, whether a person, plant or even landscape, we feel range of emotional impressions. This is our experience of the information encoded within these encountered electromagnetic fields.
The heart’s electromagnetic waveforms are experienced as emotions. These are reflected as our emotions, and expresses who we are, how we experience and are experienced by the life outside.
Through heart’s electromagnetic field we synchronise with the other types of electromagnetic fields in our immediate ecosystem.
The human heart has been considered the source of emotion, courage and wisdom throughout the ages, but heart as the sun in the human universe brings another dimension to seeing ourselves. We are beginning to understand ourselves as a composition of many communities of life.
The centre of our personal universe
When we view ourselves on the cellular level we resemble the universe itself. This is well summed up in the poem by Rudolf Steiner:
In the heart –
a human organ of all organs
more spiritual than any other.
In the heart –
matter revealing spirit
more than any other.
In the heart –
the Sun in the human universe.
In the heart –
we are closest
to the deepest
source of our being
We are beginning to see that our emotional and physical well-being depends on synchronised interplay between different communities of life that form our organism i.e. molecules, cells, organs.
In words of cell biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton from The Biology of Belief: “For billions of years, cellular living systems have been carrying out an effective peace plan that enables them to enhance their survival as well as the survival of other organisms in the biosphere. Imagine population of trillion individuals living under one roof in a state of perpetual happiness. Such community exists – it is called the healthy human body”.
The traditional Chinese medicine view
Traditional Chinese medicine sees beyond the physical manifestation of structure and tissue and perceives Heart (written with a capital ‘H’ because it is absolutely more than just a structural organ) as the seat of consciousness and spirit. The Heart is viewed as essential to the psychological wholeness of our being.
In times of stress threatening to fragment the integrity of our psyche, the Heart conjures up all of our resources, calls upon the totality of our being to break through the obstacles and bring harmony and healing.
Creativity and compassion are distilled from the finest vapour of the Heart’s spirit. These are the authentic healing forces that engender the capacity to realign with our true nature. Most pathological disturbances of the Heart are due to obstacles in this alignment.
Like the Heart, the small intestine is said to influence mental clarity and our ability to make clear decisions as well as the ability to absorb and integrate concepts and ideas.
Modern science shows us that communication between the heart and brain is a dynamic, on -going, two way dialogue, with each organ influencing the other’s function.
Traditional Chinese medicine clearly describes the way the imbalance in heart-mind communication affects our wellbeing.
When the Heart loses balance
Imbalance in the Heart-Mind is characterised by red or very pale complexion, aversion to heat, poor circulation, loss of memory, confused speech or mind, speech problems, excessive laughter or excessive talking, depression, mental illness in general. If the supply of blood to the Heart is insufficient it cannot house the spirit signs of the “wondering spirit”, forgetfulness, restlessness as well as disturbed sleep result.
In TCM diagnosis, the tongue is said to reflect the condition of the various organs in the body, with the tip of the tongue corresponding to the heart. Redness or sores on the tip of the tongue can indicate a disturbance in the fire element.
Heart function can be disturbed by, shock, overwhelming sorrow or overwhelming joy. Anything that leads to sudden change in blood perfusion or insufficient blood to the Heart can result in heart attack, stroke and lack of consciousness.
Healing the Heart requires restoring the balance of other organs in the body. The balance of Heart depends on the balance of the kidney, liver, spleen and lungs.
Most of us understand that a clear vascular system is a predisposition for a healthy heart.
Bitter flavour – ‘sweet’ tonic
Bitter flavour is relative to the fire element and it has a beneficial tonifying effect not only on the heart and small intestine but lungs, liver and kidneys as well. Its cooling nature is perceived through the detoxifying, laxative, expectorant, antipyretic effect of bitter foods on our body.
All bitter foods and herbs support the health of the heart and small intestine.
Leafy green vegetables are the best choice of food for “cooling” the heat and keeping the blood vessels clean. Chicory, dandelion leaves, artichoke (especially leaves), kale, watercress, asparagus, all kinds of lettuces (mizuna, frisee, rocket etc).
All kinds of beans provide high fibre good for the health of the heart, sprouted mung beans are particularly used to clear summer heat.
Whole grains contain fibre and vitamins essential for heart health. The B vitamins, particularly, help alleviate stress, which is damaging to the heart. Rye and quinoa are particularly beneficial to cardiovascular health.
Red is the colour associated with the fire element, it is shown that red foods like tomatoes which contain lycopene reduce the risk of heart disease. Beetroot and red pepper are great reds.
Summer fruits especially berries (red mulberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, elderberries), apples, cherries, apricots, as well as more exotic melons, papaya, mango, pineapple, are all beneficial to heart health.
Seeds due to their high levels of essential fatty acids, flax, chia, and hemp seeds also promote heart health.
Nuts are good sources of healthy fats that can lower the cholesterol. Almonds, pistachios, pecans and walnuts are shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Raw cacao with its bitter flavour stimulates endorphins in the brain and engenders the feeling of joy.
Don’t forget coconuts, their milk, oil and water are great summer food shown to lower cholesterol and protect the heart.
Keep it raw
Summer is the perfect time to eat raw food, if you must turn your cooking time and cooking temperature to an absolute minimum.
Raw foods in the diet provide the enzymes needed for healthy digestion and assimilation of foods and have a positive impact on overall health.
Herbs known to benefit heart and blood vessels are hawthorn flowers and fruit, rosemary, ginseng, cayenne pepper, yarrow, cramp-bark, garlic, lemon balm, motherwort, Chinese salvia (dan shen), marigold, valerian and many others.
Dill, basil, skullcap, valerian, verbena, motherwort, lemon balm, St.John’s wort and some others are essential to balancing the heart-mind relationship. Lavender, hops and wild lettuce watch over our sleep, making it deep and relaxing, enabling our spirit to rest and renew itself for another day of adventure on this most amazing planet.
Mindfulness strengthens the heart
“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way” is the saying attributed to Buddha. The experience of joy is natural expression of our heart whose wisdom speaks that we always have a choice even when it appears that we don’t.
Mindful speaking, deep awareness of one’s spoken word is a spirit-clarifying method to strengthen the heart, e.g. affirmations, prayer, contemplation, singing, meditation, all contribute to restoring the heart health.
A balanced, centred heart expresses heightened spiritual awareness. Thought processes become integrated to such a degree that thought is experienced as the creation of reality rather than thinking about “reality”. The ability to change emotional states at will creates emotional freedom that transforms quality of life. Or as Aldous Huxley says: “It is not what happens to us, it is to do with how we deal with it”.
Give your heart a chance to rule your world, mind is so overrated, it is the servant wearing the robe of master.
Let there be heart in all you do; as Carlos Castaneda sums it up in The Teachings of Don Juan: “A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to one self or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”
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