This is the 2nd of a 4-part blog series from Harmonic Arts and Herbalist Yarrow Willard. The intention of these blogs is to deepen our understanding of ways to show up in optimal health during each season of the year. When we choose to align with the natural energies of the season, we are proactively reducing imbalance and disease in our body, mind, and spirit. Please Check out part one on Winter Health Alignment
Did you know that Yarrow has a new blog? Check it out at YarrowWillard.com
Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy…
Breathe deep, smell the flowers, listen to the birds.
Let the timelessness of these long days sweep you away in blissful moments of joy and relaxation…
When it comes to health it’s not uncommon for people to think of summer as the glory days of good health. The weather is warm, the plants are out, there are less colds and flus and overall people seem happier. It’s the season for picnics, camping, vacations, festivals and all sorts of outdoor activities. Getting out in nature is one of the easiest and most effective ways of helping one feel better. In fact, the concept of “forest bathing” (going for a gentle walk in the woods) has been proven to show significant health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and correcting other cardiovascular imbalances. Regular walking in Nature has also shown to calm anxiety, stress, nervous tension, and improve immune function. One way the health industry sees the effects of this, is that all around the northern hemisphere, the sales in supplements drop dramatically during summer months. Only to pick right back up again in the fall when the weather shifts and flu and cold season starts up again.
What if we were able to use the energy we can feel and tap into during the summer months as a way of supporting our bodies health needs throughout the rest of the year?
This is not such a hard thing to achive, in fact we are intuitively guided to do this, as it is how our ancestors have utilized the power of summer manifestation for thousands of generations. They would make the most of the summer season and store its energy in the from of ferments, preserves, canning, drying and other means of making it last and be accessed throughout winter months.
If we are to maximize the benefits that can be found in summer months, we are best to come into seasonal alignment and live in accordance with the energetics that govern the world around us. Our connection to the abundance available in summers manifestations will then help support our health during this season and beyond.
So as we travel down this road of Summer Health Alignment, I would first like to introduce you to the 4 basic Energies of Seasonal Alignments:
When looking at working with the seasons, it is also important for us to have a basic sense of the Fourfold landscape of Holistic Health, which it Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual.
Each of these are aspect of who we are and as so, require a different type of nourishment in order to properly maintain our health and vitality.
By looking at wellness through the lens of Holistic health, we realize that it is a dynamic layering of many interactive parts.
On one hand we have seasonal alignment as mentioned above. Where finding the right mix of ingredients to take in from our outside environment is the filter for choosing our path.
On another hand we have this fourfold landscape of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves.
Our choices therefore should ideally be rooted in an understanding of how they affect each aspect of oneself. By using these filters to help guide us, we naturally gravitate to the right tools and practices for generating a long and fulfilling life.
So lets take a deeper look at these four aspects of ourselves and how they can be nourished by aligning with the power of Summer Manifestation.
Summer is the season in which we can maximize our efforts physically. The days are longer and warmer, which brings our energy levels up and can allow us to be more physically active. What we see in many cultures in hot countries is that they ideally work in 2 cycles; a morning and an early evening shift. This is because the days are too hot and the body too fatigued for strong work in the afternoon. I believe this is an ideal way to really benefit from the manifestation power on summer. With long days we can often get two shorter working days out of one. So it’s time to take on those projects you want to do and make the changes to your physical world you want to see. One of the best ways to use this extra time is to get out and grow a garden, harvest more foods and medicines from your environment, and process, preserve, ferment, or store some of this abundance for use later on. With this direct connection to the food and medicine you are able to save money in the summer, and it gives you much more healing benefits than store bought food when it is consumed at a later date.
As the weather becomes warmer, it is important to remember that the bodies ecology and energetics need time and some effort to adapt to this changes. So be careful of internal imbalances related to heat that may come up in the summer. Specifically inflammation, irritation, heat rashes, brain fog and summer fevers. Also if you are from a northern ancestry, it is likely that your body was not as adapted to heat, and so these people can have a harder time with it. Drink lots of water, practice more exercise, and sweat out those toxins and that heat as it builds up in the body. This can also be worked with by introducing cooling and bitter foods, as well as diaphoretic/diuretic plants. Favourite plant medicines for summer at our house are Elderflower cordial (video link), Digestive Bitters, Hibiscus, Gynostemma, Peppermint or Atmospheri-tea, and Green Smoothies. Some cooling foods we can add to our diets are local fruits and their juice, fresh leafy greens, avocados, cucumber, coconut, sea vegetables, and fish.
Our mental health can often become exhausted in the “dog days” of summer. Heat rises and guess what’s at the top of your body… your head! It’s common for people to feel more mentally lethargic during the summer season. Often this is coupled by the fact that because it’s nice outside we are continually distracted by wanting to get out and enjoy it. Especially when we see others around us planning their own extra curricular activities. The fact is that most of us are much less mentally productive in the summer. This is not a bad thing, it can actually be a much deserved break from the constant mental work that the modern world often demands of us. Instead, summer should be a time for action, and a time to create all of your ideas and plans that came from mentally active times of the year, such as the winter months. So if strenuous mental activity is not working for you in the summer months, don’t bang your head against the wall. Get out and do things! Be active and use that energy to build happiness and accomplishments that you can be proud of when you think back on them from slower times of the year spent indoors.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that the summer is ruled by the heart, which governs the emotions of joy and has the voice of laughter. So enjoy yourself, have fun, connect with others, do things that bring more joy into your life. This is a time for merriment, a time for celebration, a time to take in all the magnificent colours and fragrance of the natural world. Get out and nourish these aspects of your life. Vibrant living starts from creating the time in our lives to enjoy ourselves. Spend time building your connections with plants, animals, people and all the life around you. There is no person or thing that will be wearing a sign on them that says friend of _____, will make you laugh and experience joy if you spend time with me. It is up to you to go out and create those relationships if you want to have them in your life.
Similar to Emotional, the spiritual aspects of summer are those of connection, community and celebration. Find your spiritual fulfillment in the world you build relationships with. Part of why we get less sick and generally feel happier in the summer is because we have more opportunity to build nourishing relationships. This may be with a garden and the plants you grow, it may be with the plants and animals you see in the natural world, or it may be with the people that inspire you and bring more enjoyment and purpose into your life. Take the time to allow these aspects of connection to nourish your spiritual needs.
Taking a vacation is as much about spending time with those we love and doing things that make us happy, as it is about releasing ourself from the burdens of stress and commitments that we so readily take on. Committing to less in the summer months can make us more available for joy and good flow in our lives.
For this reason I am a big fan of the “stay-cation”. Which to me means coming home early from work, or taking time off just to putz around the yard or laying in a hammock and reading a good book. Be good to yourself in the summer and the rest of your year will be rewarded with more productivity and value.
My hope for you this summer is to get out and really make the most of its powers of Manifestation, enjoy yourself, laugh a lot, and connect with like minded individuals. May you carry the energy of abundance that summer offers with you into the rest of the year to come..
About the Author:
Yarrow is a Clinical Herbalist and the co-founder/formulator of the Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary at www.harmonicarts.ca . From an early age, he was raised in the ways of herbs and natural medicine. Yarrow is highly edu-taining and carries a wealth of knowledge and insight into upgrading health and vitality and deepening our connection with the natural world. He is continually sharing the “Herbal Jedi” life path through his many events, classes, blogs, YouTube channel and other social media.
Yarrow also has a brand new blog where he will be adding all sorts of great insight into deepening our connection to the natural world. Check it out at yarrowwillard.com