Summer: the Key to Building Your Personal Resilience
(There’s a special breathing exercise for you at the end, but read the whole thing first!)
The summer months are ideal for working on certain aspects of personal resilience, so let's take a look at some of them.
Switching your diet around to include more freshly grown fruits and vegetables can significantly boost your intake of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, trace elements and more. In addition, the energetic or “qi” content of these foods is far superior, giving your immune system a much needed boost.
And including more “cooling” foods in your diet – including most fruits and veggies, as well as cooling herbs like fresh mint (my garden’s overrun with the stuff) – will help your metabolism to function most effectively in the hot weather. Also, these foods require far less energy for your body to digest than do heavier foods like red meat, so you benefit from that as well.
One easy way to include more cooling foods is to make smoothies.
Since your body doesn’t need to devote a lot of resources to keeping your core temperature warm in the summer, this season is ideal for doing a cleanse. If you’ve ever done a cleanse in the winter, on the other hand, and especially one that cut down your food intake, you know firsthand how cold you get without the food you’re used to.
Your body also detoxifies naturally during the summer. Since your skin is a major organ of elimination and you’re exposing more of it to the air, and since you’re sweating more, toxin removal is much more efficient. Some of the best cleanses we know of (and that I’ve used myself) can be found here:
Sunshine, Energy and Immunity
In Chinese medicine, summer corresponds to the high point of Yang energy in the Yin-Yang cycle. Yang stands for a strong, positive, hot and expanding type of energy, and as the world around you becomes more Yang, so does your body.
In other words, your body’s energy tends to become expansive and radiate outward, whereas in winter the opposite was true, since your body was automatically conserving its energy. This is actually good news, since it means that in the summer your body automatically recharges your “wei qi”, which is the type of qi that forms a barrier around you against harmful pathogens and other intruders. What can you do to help this process along?
One way is to make sure you get enough sun exposure. Yes, there’s a ton on information out there about how bad the sun is for you, how it will give you skin cancer, wrinkle your skin and probably fog your i-pod. Personally, I really don’t buy it. Yes, you should be cautious about sun exposure, but cautious is not paranoid. Baring your skin to the sun helps replenish your body’s vitamin D reserves and you may need those reserves in winter, when sunlight is harder to come by and when you’re so bundled up the sun can’t get to you anyway.
Lots more sunlight has a very positive effect on the human psyche, as we all know from experience. You can magnify the effect by making a decision to work on positive emotions over the summer: simply decide now to stay in a “headspace” of positive expectation, of gratitude, of generosity and kindness, and you’ll see results pretty quickly.
You can also decide to learn an emotional healing technique over the summer, such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Be Set Free Fast (BSFF). You may even get bold enough with these tools to take on some of your inner demons and turf them out.
A Breathing Exercise for You
(Always get your physician’s approval for undertaking physical exercises such as this. Contraindications include some chronic conditions, cardio-vascular disease, high blood pressure, as well as pregnancy.)
If you’d like to use the summer to detoxify naturally, accumulate more qi, calm your emotions and improve your life in nearly every way, try this:
Go for a walk
As you walk, pay attention to your breath… watch it come in and go out naturally as you breathe through your nose
As you inhale, feel the breath descend to your lower abdomen, a few centimeters / inches below your navel.
As you exhale, just watch the breath exit through your nose
After you’ve done this for a while and gotten used to it, pay attention to the sensations on various areas of your body as you inhale. Feel energy entering your body at various points and gathering at your lower abdomen
As you exhale, feel the energy you’ve taken in expand from your lower abdomen outward only as far as the surface of your skin
This is a walking meditation from ancient Taoist sources. It’s very relaxing, reintegrates your mind and body and improves your immune system too. Just don’t get so absorbed in it that you forget to watch for traffic!