Part 2: Heart, heat and healing
This is the second part of a blog series on how to take good care of your body and mind in the age of Covid. Part 1 was about how to take good care of your lungs. This was particularly relevant when it wasn't as hot as it is now. Now it's summer, heat wave even, a very different phase in the year.
Most people experience the heat wave as a kind of attack; too much heat, almost unstoppable. Stuffy, yearn for cooling, little done, bad sleep, it's no fun. In this article I highlight the benefits of this sweltering heat and tell you how you can take advantage of heat in times of Covid.
Summer, the period of the heart and of the fire
In Chinese medicine seasons play an important role. According to the Chinese, each season has its own theme, its own emotion and its own health benefits (and disadvantages). Each season is linked to an organ. For the summer, this is the heart. The accompanying element is, how could it be otherwise, fire. This is now very noticeable, with an average of about 32 degrees inside and outside.
Virtues of the heart and functions of fire
From a Chinese stage, every organ and every season has so-called 'virtues', or emotions. The heart comes with joy. Themes of the heart are connecting with others (heart connections, 'having the heart on the tongue', saying what is on your heart', 'opening your heart'). Long summer evenings, open conversations, summer loves, it's part of summer and the heart. Summer also has less fine things that occur when it's all very heated, like now: insomnia, restlessness, irritation and things are very dramatic.
Heart, heat and summer are connected
This phase in which the heart is extra open and the heat forces to a slower pace lends itself to taking stock for the second half of the year. From September onwards, people tend to become extra productive; it cools down, winter is coming, schools are starting again, there is work to be done. Traditionally this is harvest time, a time when hard work had to be done in preparation for the long winter. In the summer you have a moment to feel how you stand in an emotional sense and where you want to go in the coming time. This is the perfect time to make choices from your heart.
Fire, heat and the 'burning' of the old
Heat makes hardened muscles and other cramped tissues more supple in the body. As a result, heat offers the chance to steam through physical and emotional blockages, which allows ballast to be removed. In all kinds of cultures all over the world there are rituals and metaphors about burning what has become a burden. In Western culture we are familiar with doing a letter or photo in the fireplace when we want to say goodbye to a person or feeling. In Scandinavia, sauna is used to dislodge waste or pathogens. In Indian cultures, one traditionally knows the sweat lodge, a kind of extreme variant of the sauna, in which hunters and warriors in particular endure hours of extreme heat to dispel the stress and negativity of hunting or war from their bodies. This is often a condition to be allowed to return to the women and children. Nowadays, these rituals are also used in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (1). Tough, stuck traumas can be worked through more easily when there is heat. Like tough vegetables are easier to digest when 'the boil goes over'. Heat helps to digest things.
Heat is a therapy for trauma processing and stuck emotions in many cultures
Summer and digesting ballast
What does all this have to do with Corona? Well, we're approaching autumn. And after autumn comes a long, cold winter. In addition to the winter flu, we can expect covid again next winter. In the summer, people also become infected with the Corona virus (SARS-CoV-2), but this leads to serious symptoms less easily than in winter. This is due to a number of factors. One of these factors is the amount of stress that is present in the body. The more old very, cramping and stress, the worse the immune system can function. Therefore, it is useful to use the summer heat to work through old tough emotions, like the Indians. And to come to choices made with your heart in that process.
The warm yang and the immune system
The summer heat also helps the immune system in another way, namely by replenishing the supply of heat in the body. Chinese medicine knows the yin and the yang. Yin represents the cool earth, the darkness, the non-do and the tranquility. The yang represents warmth, action and movement. In winter, the yang is in high demand, because this is the energy that should keep the body warm and protect against outside invaders, such as flu and other viruses. If you value the heat, you can use the 'internal heater' for longer in the winter. For this reason, it's not a bad idea not to just stick to the air conditioning these days. And to not only face the heat with resistance. While you certainly shouldn't overdo it (overheating is dangerous and unhealthy), valuing the heat is a valuable preparation for winter.
Today's warmth can come in handy in winter
When the skin comes into contact with (spring or summer) sun, vitamin D is produced. Vitamin D has a protective effect against respiratory infections (2, 6), and thus also against Covid (4, 5),. Studies show that in Europe about one third to 40% of the population is deficient in vitamin D3 (3).
2020 brought a lot of sun, at least in the Netherlands. Many people had more time because they worked from home or were not allowed to work at all. Early in the season (mid-March) the sun shone exuberantly and you could sit comfortably in it. The whole spring remained beautiful, and also the summer brings a lot of sun. First with a cool base temperature (June, July), which allowed people to sit in the sun for a long time, and now with a lot of heat. Both variants are very good for the vitamin D stock. In the cool, people took a lot of sun hours, and in the heat a lot of people go from misery but swim, which makes a big skin-up paint in the sun. All in all, people will have a generous vitamin D status this spring and summer. This helps the body to stand stronger in the Corona era. Here, of course, there is, of course, that excess is a crime; burning in the sun, or exaggerating with browning is harmful to the skin and can cause skin cancer. A healthy middle is the motto.
So that heat isn't so crazy.
All in all, summer offers handles in multiple ways in times of Corona. By removing emotional ballast, by helping to map out the life path, by replenishing our heat supply and by enabling the production of vitamin D. And all those heartfelt social moments are also very welcome after months of lockdown and with another winter of social distancing ahead. Those moments are literally heartwarming.
s 2) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3067587
3 3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16529140