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Nurturing Summer Health

Stay in tune with the natural world using these tips to align your body and mind with the summer season.

| July/August 2019

Photo by Getty Images/FatCamera

Grounded in over 5000 years of tradition, East Asian medicine practices highlight and focus on the importance of self-care and self-compassion. Those two elements are highly praised in this practice because they’re part of a holistic view of health that involves living in harmony with nature, the seasons, and the rhythms of life. But in our busy, technology-infused lives, how do we reconnect with our envi­ronment and ourselves? By using nature as our inspiration, we can realign with the flow of what’s already happening in the world around us.

East Asian medicine principles were established from careful observations of nature. Consider the natural elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Among these elements, certain relationships always hold true: Water nourishes the plants and trees that produce wood, and that wood fuels fire. Each element has unique charac­teristics, but also enhances or diminishes other elements. For example, wood feeds fire, but water eradicates fire. In East Asian medicine, these descriptions map how the body works internally, with each organ system coinciding with a natural element.

Summer is about heat, fire, and light. The energy of summer isn’t about cozying in and reading a book by a fire — that behavior is contrary to what’s going on in the natural world. When we align with the energy that’s already present, we get more results with less effort. This natural alignment is called flow. As an acu­puncturist and national board-certified herbalist, I help patients find simple self-care solutions that work with their lives. When these simple shifts include flow, great things can happen. Importantly, these self-care practices don’t have to be a full-time job.

To celebrate this season’s unique qualities, I’ve put together my favorite recommendations for effectively nurtur­ing summer health and wellness. Early summer is associated with fire, while late summer is associated with earth. These two forces can inspire us to align our self-care with the flow of the season.

The Fire Element

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