Having a connection with nature is good for us. There are now plenty of studies that prove that exposure to the outdoors helps improve mental health, lower blood pressure, improve concentration and decrease fatigue. Perhaps more importantly, spending time outside directly correlates with life satisfaction and happiness.
Chinese Medicine theory teaches that overall, there are three main factors which lead to illness or imbalance in our bodies: external factors – such as the weather, climate and infectious diseases, internal factors – such as unbalanced mental or emotional states and miscellaneous factors – which applies to our diet, sleep patterns, rest and exercise. Recent research has shown that our DNA changes in response to the seasons so it makes complete sense that living in harmony with nature AND the seasons is fundamental to our overall well-being.
Yin Yang and Five element theory are at the core of Chinese Medicine; both are used in practice to measure the internal journey of life and human activity in relation to the natural rhythms of nature.
- Yin and Yang illustrates how the energy of our bodies ebbs and flows as they move through the cycles of days and seasons. It also describes the cycle of the sun and the moon and our connection with them. Yin traditionally represents female energy, night time, full winter, stillness, cold, quiet and the moon while Yang symbolises masculine energy, daytime, full summer, movement, heat, activity, day, and the sun.
- Five Element theory describes the fundamental qualities of all matter and the interconnected relationship between each season and our bodies. Each season correlates to the elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water and has its own individual energy or characteristic and other resonances such as colour, sound, emotion, taste, time of day/night and organ in the body.
Together with Yin Yang theory, Five Element theory helps us incorporate harmony into our lives which serves to help us feel better and ultimately live longer.
We have just moved into Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the energy of this time of year is full Yang. All around us we see abundance in nature and begin to see our tables filled with seasonal produce and flowers. In Chinese Medicine, Summer is split into two parts: summer and late summer.
Summer is the time of full yang. This is the time when the energy of the earth supports us to exercise fully, party and celebrate life with our loved ones. The element is Fire, the emotion is joy and the dominating organ is the Heart. The energy is maturity and this is a good time to notice abundance in your life, to laugh and feel joy.
The Heart is is the place where our spirit (Shen in Chinese Medicine) resides. When the Heart is in balance we feel joy easily and radiate a joyful presence to the world. Your blood will flow freely, the eyes will be clear, you will feel grounded and will sleep well.
When the Heart is out balance you may feel a lack of joy or a feeling of wanting to hide from the world, you may feel cold and anxious and have trouble sleeping.
Late Summer is the fifth season in Chinese Medicine. This is the time of year when we typically experience an Indian summer in the UK and a time of pause before we head into the more Yin seasons of Autumn and Winter.
The element is Earth, the emotion is worry and the dominating organ is the Spleen (the digestive system in Chinese Medicine). The energy is harvest so naturally you will begin to notice the manifestation of projects or anything which you have been working on for the year. This is a very grounding time of year however as the Earth element controls transitions and is an important element during times of change, both personally and in the environment
The Spleen transforms and transports food enabling us to absorb Qi and Blood from our food, to give us good health and vitality. If our Earth element is balanced, our digestive systems flow smoothly and we are able to nourish ourselves with ease.
When the Spleen is out of balance you may worry to excess, lack concentration and feel needy. Your digestive system will be dysfunctional, you will feel tired, bruise easily and have a loss of appetite.
Imbalances in your Fire and Earth elements can be supported by exploring your symptoms in more detail with an experienced Chinese Medicine practitioner. There are three main ways in which you can cultivate good health however:
- Nourish yourself. With meditation (see the e-course), breath breaks (simply noticing your breath a few times a day and breathing more slowly, practising a more gentle connection with your body with whatever nourishes you.
- Avoid behaviour that causes harm for example regularly drinking to excess, smoking, eating the wrong food and being inactive.
- Put your wellbeing at the top of any list you have. Find exercise or movement that you love, get outside as often as you can, eat well, chew slowly, get to bed before 11pm. Do some exploration around what you need to lift your heart and connect with your inner wisdom.
Overall as long as you can find balance and the connection with your inner stillness you will feel your natural connection flourish.
Gemma is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and meditation expert. She runs her practice, The Quiet Heart, in the vibrant and beautiful city of Bristol, UK.
Through her work, her intention is to help women feel that wellbeing is attainable and practical; that it’s possible to feel a sense of peace, clarity and connection to our bodies in our busy everyday life.
Discover ways in which Gemma can add wellbeing to your life through her website www.thequietheart.co.uk.