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Nourishing The Heart with TCM

Community Acupuncture – How, What, Why Now? #2 Author: Caroline Meyer

As we enter August, summer heat reaches its peak. Depending on your constitution, this is your favourite time of year or your most-dreaded. The height of summer also means that Yang energy is strongest now. Yang energy is expansive, hot, restless, and even ambitious. We all benefit from having Yang in us. If there is too much Yang, though, you can feel overheated, irritable, and emotional volatile.

In Chinese medicine, the heart and small intestine are also associated with summer heat. A healthy heart not only circulates blood through our bodies, it also creates the capacity for experiencing the vibrancy of emotions, especially joy. When your heart energy is weakened or constrained you can feel listless, depressed, anxious and emotionally numb. You can also have trouble with sleep.

The health of your heart energy, called ‘shen’ in Chinese medicine, is reflected through your eyes and tongue. When Shen is strong, you will notice the clarity and brightness in the person’s eyes. On the other hand, speaking too quickly, too much or even too little can indicate an imbalance in your heart energy. So what can you do to not only manage the summer heat but keep your heart and small intestine healthy?

Loving kindness meditation is a wonderful way to replenish your heart energy. Here is a link to True Peace Toronto, a meditation community in the spirit of Thich Nhat Hanh. Here you can learn more about loving kindness practice and be guided in a simple sitting meditation. Practicing Loving Kindness can also be challenging as we are so often taught to not pay attention to our feelings and might feel overwhelmed when we turn our attention inward. Be empowered to use walking meditation, or to commit to a 1 or 5 minute practice rather than forcing yourself into a 10 or 15 minute practice.

Cooling foods that nourish the heart include: • Red foods, as red is the colour associated with the heart, such as watermelon, tomatoes, berries • Cooling spices like cumin, coriander, dill, basil • Cooling foods like cucumber, celery, local lettuces, sprouts, mung beans • If your digestion is strong enough, it is a wonderful time to add in more raw foods into your diet, to keep your body-mind cool • In Ayruveda, a dish called kichari made from mung beans and rice is cooling and nourishing. It makes a wonderful base for a cleansing diet in the summer, especially if you want to avoid eating too much raw food.

With Community Acupuncture we can clear and move the Heat through and out your channels or meridians and balance your Heart and Small Intestine Qi. Simultaneously we can use certain points to nourish your Yin (the coolant within), thereby helping your system to better regulate, while keeping you calm and cool in these hot days of August.

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