Summer has already started on the Chinese Taoist calendar. Its peak will be on June 22, “Summer solstice” which will be the beginning of the days getting shorter, but it is still going to be hot and the longest day of the year.
Some things to know about Summer: The rhythm will be rapid and random. Youth and playfulness abound and feelings of joy are predominant during this time. Summer’s color is red. It is a color of passion and love. Red hearts, red roses, and red summer skies all invoke the body to be creative and passionate. Fire is the element of the season. During the summer we should do things that cool the fire. Rest under a shady tree, go dipping in cool streams and lakes, and drink lots of water to help to balance the fire in the heart of summer.
The heart is affected by the summer heat so be sure to look up and exhale release a HAAAA sound out of the mouth to vent out any heat that is disturbing the heart and the mind. Feel the heat leave the chest and body, the same heat you use to warm the hands when cold in winter.
Seasonally, the body changes from weak Yang to extreme Yang. The Heart is the Yin organ, but its Yin lessens during summer and emotional excitement grows. Excessive emotion can make the Heart too Yang. The body’s Guardian Qi grows strong to release excess Qi from the internal organs. The main purpose of the summer exercises is to keep the Heart in the proper Yin state.
Qigong: You can use Normal Abdominal Breathing with inhalation longer than exhalation to maintain a peaceful mind and lead excess Qi away from the Heart into the Lungs. Massage the Heart from the center outward and the Heart and Pericardium channels at the inner arms. Keep the mind away from the Heart (Qi flows where the mind leads it).
Summer heat is the EPF (external pathogen factor) of summer, so please stay hydrated when outside working for an extended amount of time, excess sweating can lead to consumption of body fluid and can lead to sun stroke. When combined with the humidity (dampness in Chinese medicine) there can be dizziness, heaviness in the head, poor appetite, restlessness, and thirst. Stick to the cooling foods and drink plenty of water and electrolytes!
Since summer is the season of the fire element in Chinese medicine, it will be important to maintain a positive attitude and be optimistic. We will not want to be “short fused” and easily angered. The heart channel is strong in this season so keep a calm mind. Pessimism and negative emotions will stagnate the liver and will generate more heat offending the heart. Breathing fine, even, and long calmly with the nose will help regulate the heart.
Air conditioning can be an issue in the summer. Going in and out of hot and cold can cause a summer cold. It is the same principle in winter. Some things you can do is massage the nose by pinching it a few times to stimulate the qi and blood there. Keep the arms, legs, and belly covered and avoid the cold air blowing directly on you. Indoors you should avoid ice cold drinks as this will weaken the spleen. Drink green tea or Chrysanthemum tea, Outside you will want to wear light and comfortable clothing and drink light fluids.
Foods that are recommended in summer are mung beans, various types of melons like cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew, peaches, plums, bittermelon, and star fruit.
In summer the “siesta” is a good idea if you feel tired from the heat. A small nap in summer can be recharging in a great way.
Some acupressure that is good in the heat is pressing hard on the acupoint LI11 Quchi at the crease of the elbow and LI4 Hegu. Press these deeply, you can use finger or lightly tap them.
Last newsletter I mentioned some diets that are recommended. The paleo diet, Chinese therapy, Plant-based diet, and the Integrative food pyramid were brought to attention. I want to discuss a little about the Paleo diet and the strong points of it. It is a diet based on eating more lean meats, and carbs from fruits and vegetables. Some of the principles are:
- Eating wild game meat: It provides the best nutrients and qi energetically, if you cannot eat this try range-fed animals, wild fish, and bone stews. It is important to rotate meats in your diet if you are not vegan or vegetarian.
- Eating unrefined whole grains regularly but moderately. White flour provides incomplete nutrition.
- Hunter-gatherers ate a variety of seeds and nuts. Try almonds, flax seed, roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Eat abundant amount of vegetables and fruits to balance out the meat intake.
- The prehistoric message here is to eat ancient foods that have not been hybridized and have remained, as a species, the same as it has for millions of years. Take for example the GMO foods that are modified in some way or another. A paleo diet person will eliminate GMO foods from their diet.
Nova Acupuncture Staff Hours:
Matthew’s hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 2pm to 7pm. Tuesday and Thursday 9am to 1pm, and Saturday 9-5pm.
Qigong of the month:
This year I’ve finished reading two books: “Awakening the Sacred Body” and “Awakening the Luminous mind” both from my Tibetan teacher Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Tenzin is a Geshe, which is he went to school as a monk through elementary, middle, high school, and college.
The lockdowns did a lot of good, it gave some time to work on the meditation systems I learned back in college decades ago, but I found something interesting. My Tibetan teacher has simplified his teachings greatly, but with keeping the essence intact if not even better. Stillness, Silence, and Spaciousness is his current lessons over the recent years and so he wants newcomers and senior students alike to have a strong foundation in these basics of meditation.
Remember, meditation should not change your personal beliefs and religion, but we can gain a lot of insight into our true nature when we go inside and dissolve our ego through the practice of meditation.
Awakening the Sacred body: he narrows down some of the physical Tibetan Yogas into two primary methods for beginners to experience the body, energies, and mindfulness. The 9 breathings of purification, a method we always began practice sessions with were re-emphasized. The 9 breathings are basically the pranayama “alternate nostril breathing” taught in many yoga schools worldwide. His pranayama version is specific to his Tibetan tradition, not quite the same as Hatha yoga.
Tsa-Lung or Tibetan “Wind and channel exercises” were also emphasized. There are like qigong, 5 simple exercises to move prana or qi in the body and transform the mind and body. There are 5 based on the 5 elements in Tibetan medicine. Not quite the same as Chinese 5 elements. The element of Space is about the space we have in our body and mind. Understand that even atoms in our body are 99.99999999% empty space!
The second book, “Awakening the Luminous Mind” was less on physical exercise like Tsa Lung, but more on the mind development in meditation by developing the “3 refuges” in the body, speech, and mind. Here the emphasis is on keeping the body still in sitting posture, quiet the mind to halt internal talking to develop silence, and third, find the true nature of mind which is like a spacious empty sky.
The second part of the book was a meditation on one of the ancient poems of his Tibetan lineage.
The 5 fold teaching of Dawa Gyaltsen:
Vision is mind.
Mind is empty.
Empty is clear light.
Clear light is union.
Union is great bliss.
What does this mean? Its meaning is simple but profound:
“Vision is mind” is all about how we create illusions in our mind. Tenzin says: “Often with a sense of subject or self, or objects or appearances formed by our imagination”. Our mind is always making projections taking us into various rollercoaster of emotions, His advice is to keep looking closer and closer at your problems and projections and you may come to understand they are not true reality. One part he says, “Gaze at your anger without thought, directly with awareness.” This is one example of examining your problems with his advice to simply just observe.
“Mind is empty”, the mind Dawa Gyaltsen describes is ego. Here he describes it three ways: pain body, pain speech, and pain mind for we experience suffering through those three doors. Each of those is empty. You will understand the mind is empty when it is free of pain body, pain voice, and pain mind. Empty means clear, free, and open, so you are able to experience bliss body, bliss speech, and bliss mind through practice of meditation.
“Empty is clear light”, here he talks about the empty mind is not a place of nothing, as emptiness really contains everything of great quality. In the space of emptiness is where everything is spontaneously perfected. Joy is there, love is there, compassion is there, equanimity is there, and confidence is there. It is available to you if you can cultivate the awareness through meditation to ripen the experience of openness and become familiar with it.
“Abide, dissolve, continue” Tenzin says is a method to maintain the clear light in meditation after acheiving the experience in stillness, space, and silence. It will be easy to get distracted so you will need to use your wisdom mind to coach yourself into deeper experience to observe and move on from distractions.
“Clear light is union”, here he says clear light is clear plus light. Clear as in spaciousness and openness and light as in awareness. There is no separation so finding and experiencing the spaciousness and awareness as non-dual, it is like the child becoming re-united with its mother.
“Union is great bliss” is the final line. Here Tenzin says, “The notion of pain body, pain speech, and pain mind- the whole existence of your personality and characteristics- is caused by not knowing your true self. The definition of not knowing your true self is ignorance, which is the root cause of suffering. There is a new sense of self when you learn and recognize the awareness and openness. It creates a new sense of self and that new sense of self has a deep quality of bliss, joy, compassion, equanimity, loving kindness from that union, from experiencing the natural mind. If union is experienced then the positive experiences will manifest in your life.
This all leads to the treasury of the natural mind. Tenzin says, “According to Tibetan medicine, the source of all illness is ignorance, the failure to recognize the source of one’s own being. When the mother (emptiness, openness, spaciousness) and child (awareness) unite, the causes of sickness are not perpetuated. This is a traditional Tibetan way of saying that the more you are aware of openness as the source, the more momentum of the pain body’s patterning is disrupted and weakened. When stress is reduced in this way, the negative consequences of that stress-your imbalanced reaction to outer difficulties- are also reduced. The ignorant, disconnected, unhealthy mind creates suffering. The moment you are aware, it changes the momentum and trajectory of your suffering. Confusion dissolves at the source.”
Link to free online meditation courses when you create an account here at: Ligmincha Learning
Some diet therapy ideas for summer:
Summer is here so I’d like to share some receipts from this program and hope you will gain some balance from the summer heat. Many of you know that I do not normally promote salads as much if you are a sedentary and cold body type. However, in the summer the cold and cooling foods are more acceptable to use especially on hot days. Those that are in climate control like air conditioning may want to limit raw food intake if cold type. Here are some meals I’ve picked out from the Heavenly bodies program that might interest you: