The Beginning of Summer – Lì Xià 立夏
In ancient China, 24 solar terms existed as a means to guide farmers in agricultural affairs and farming activities. They are based on the sun’s position in the zodiac and reflect changes in climate, agricultural production, natural phenomena and other aspects of living. This is often referred to as ‘the farmer’s calendar’.
Today (May 6th) is Lìxià 立夏, also known as ‘the beginning of summer‘. Lìxià is the seventh solar term. It occurs annually on May 6th and signifies the beginning of summer. However, caution is advised; although summer has arrived in the southern provinces, most areas in China are still within spring.
With our bodies existing as a microcosm of the outside world, summer (the Fire element) is represented within the human body as the Heart—the Emperor. Within Chinese medicine, therefore, the beginning of summer is a time to moisten the Heart. As the weather grows warmer, excess heat and damp can affect our health. Foods rich in vitamins and cool in nature are therefore indicated at this time: cucumber, tomatoes, watercress, celery. watermelon, pears, strawberries, etc.
Chapter two of the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen is entitled “Comprehensive Discourse on Regulating the Spirit in Accordance with the Qi of the Four Seasons”. This classical text—also referred to as the ‘Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine’ or ‘Basic Questions’—states that one must live in harmony with the four seasons in order to maintain a balance of health—both physically and emotionally.
Here we have advice on how to live in harmony with the movement of summer and the Fire element. In order to remain in harmony with the four seasons and the five elements, we recommend seasonal treatments to maintain this sense of balance as we transition through the year.
The three months of summer,
they denote opulence and blossoming.
The qi of heaven and earth interact and
the myriad beings bloom and bear fruit.
Go to rest late at night and rise early.
Never get enough of the sun.
Let the mind have no anger.
Stimulate beauty and have your elegance perfected.
Cause the qi ro flow away,
as if that what you loved were located outside.
This is correspondence with the qi of summer and
it is the Way to nourish growth.
Opposing it harms the heart.
In autumn this causes jie and malaria, and
there is little to support gathering.
Multiple disease [develops] at winter solstice.
HUANG DI NEIJING SUWEN (Chapter 2)
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