Chinese Medicine and the Heart

Summer.  The season of fire.  In classical Chinese Culture, summer is associated with the South, the direction of prosperity.  Ancient Chinese maps had South at the top, and moving South is associated with ascension.  Summer is the time of year where our souls are exuberant and we revel in the fullness of life.  If, that is, our Fire is in harmony.

Fire is the most Yang of the elements; it is the flourishing that comes after Wood’s focused growth.

What does this mean for us humans?  We are manifestations of the Elements and the patterns, movements, and experiences in our life are deeply influenced by the shifts in the energetics around us.

The organs associated with Fire are the Heart, Pericardium, Small Intestine, and San Jiao or Triple Burner.  The Heart is the home of the Shen, our authentic self-nature. The emotion classically associated is Joy.  Joy is what we feel when our life is in accordance with the expression of our Shen, simple as that.  

In this season we reflect on the question, "What brings me joy?".  And we examine our life to see how much we are doing these things.

When I was in my late teens, a woman came to speak to the environmental organization I was working with.  She spoke on the topic of careers and life path- we were a youth-run organization and such things were part of the training mandate.

One thing she said has stuck in my mind all these years:

"When you are trying to decide what you want to do with your life, don’t think about a job that seems like it would be really cool, or even something you think you’d be good at.  Don’t think about jobs at all.  Instead, your work is to identify the behaviours that really fire you up, the kinds of activity that truly rouse your passion and bring you joy to do.  And THEN, look for a job that allows you to engage in those behaviours as much as possible."

This teaching came to me very powerfully in mid-march of last year, when I chose to close the clinic I was running and move to a simple private practice.  I had what alcoholics refer to as a “moment of clarity” and realized how far from my life’s path and my authentic self I had diverged.  Instead of living my passion for Chinese Medicine, I had become a manager.  I was holding on to this business due to an attachment to a vision I had, and I reveled in the profile in the community it brought, and I was deeply unhappy.

There and then I chose to close my clinic and move to a simple private practice.  And I am so much happier.  My life has so much more of that which brings me joy.  I had to let go of a lot of the ideas I had about what success means, and who I was in the community.  It was a big transition.  And I love my simpler life.

So in this season of Fire, I challenge you to take a courageous (meaning 'from the heart') look at your life and see what you are doing that brings you joy, and that which doesn't, to see what you are holding onto due to fear, pride, or simply out of habit.