Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summertime tips from Joseph Cardillo's the Five Seasons

Sharing some tips on tapping into Nature's Secrets for Health, Happiness and Harmony from the new release The Five Seasons by Joseph Cardillo, PhD.

How to Optimize Summer Energy
Summer is all about synching up with nature’s continued rising energy. It is a time of robust outward energy and activity. It is your cycle to expand and coordinate the pieces of your life that you planted in the spring. Your job is to observe these elements of your life and watch them as they blossom. Summer gives you the energy to nurture all those that blossom in a positive direction and are truly meaningful to your heart, your dreams. It also gives you the energy you need to clearly identify those that are dysfunctional and prune them.
The summer cycle is associated with the emotion of joy and connected to the rising energy (outward-bound dreams) of the heart. When these are balanced, you are able to flow in a direction you feel is authentic and important to your life.
Summer is linked to the element of fire, which drives your maximum outward engagement as well as your sense of focus, logic, coordination, and organization. When all of these components are in balance you feel your optimum physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. You are relaxed. Your mind is flowing and alert. Your heart is warm and happy.

Alicia never had trouble sleeping...until one summer. If you asked her why, she would admit she had a lot going on, but it wasn’t just that. She was also anxiously waiting for something to happen—for anything to come from all the effort she had put forth since the beginning of the year. She and her husband had been trying to conceive, but so far nothing. They had also been trying to sell their home. They had already put a down payment on a new one, in a new neighborhood they wanted to raise their child in someday soon. It seemed to her that nothing was working out. Her mantra became, “I need to hear some good news.” Her husband, who tried to soothe her, would say her “A watched pot never boils.”

Alicia never really took her eye off the “pot,” so to speak. Her insomnia, however, was sending her a direct message that she needed to cool down. So she put less emphasis on watching. Instead, she made a short list of things she loved to do in the summer months. These were little things, not big—things like jogging; tending her garden; time at the beach, where she would relax to the sound of the ocean waves; day trips on the weekends into the neighboring state; and nightly meditation, something new for her, to help her de-stress and get more satisfying sleep. She emphasized these things instead. Although she couldn’t wipe her mind clean of her goals, she increased her level of joy—which cooled off some of the fire in her mind and body. By late autumn, both major bits of news she had been awaiting arrived.


Stay balanced. Keep a relaxed yet activated mindset for your daily routines and make some time to be outdoors.
Use summer’s abundant light. The summer cycle continues your time for more natural light. As you did during spring, welcome this continued wealth of light with your eyes. Whether you are indoors or out, feel summer’s warmth with your whole body. Use this warmth to soothe. Let it loosen you up, body first and then mentally as well. The more flexible you feel, the more all your potentials will flourish. Let summer’s light soothe your body. Focus on where inside your body you feel any rigidity.
Cool down. In Asian medicine, there are layers of cool and warm energies throughout the body. So, for example, you may feel heat on your skin (or coolness, depending on the seasonal cycle), yet if you sharpen your awareness you can send your focus below the skin and find a pocket of coolness. You can also keep moving your focus inward. If you go the next layer below, you can locate a pocket of warmth, and then, if you keep going, the coolness within that.
You can use your visualizations and your breath to guide the comfort you need (coolness or warmth) to the areas where you need it. Just take a deep, relaxing breath and envision it going right to that spot. Remember the adage: Where the mind goes, your chi flows. It may take several breaths to achieve the exact comfort you want, but you can get there.
Warm up. Spend time basking in summer warmth. Feel it in your muscles and joints. Ingrain this in your memory so you can tap into it whenever you need to, any time of day or year.
► Heat up. Ingrain summer’s flaring, high-powered energy in your mind. Start by feeling it with your body. Use the color red in your visualizations of summer energy flowing through your body. Make yourself sensitive to how this energy makes you feel—physically, mentally, and spiritually—and double up your visualizations by including color. This ingrains its effects deeper into your memory and will quicken its recall and activation as you need it.
Observe nature. Enjoy a wide range of summer elements like rain, the lavish greenness, the plethora of flowers, the water, the breeze, and the wind. Let yourself experience the coolness of morning, hotness of midday, and coolness later at night. Listen to the night creatures and their unique sounds. You can listen to them one at a time or collectively as if they were orchestrated. You may like to listen to the birds at night singing their young a lullaby or sending their messages out through the environment. Morning is another good time to listen. You may like to watch birds soar in the brightness of the sky. Make time to experience this, especially in quietude. You will be surprised how many ideas and solutions can come to you this way—without stress, without your probing or asking or getting compulsive.
Go to the beach. Enjoy the coolness of the water and make sure to commit it to your memory. Feel the heat of the sand. Let it soak into your body and dissolve your tensions. Ingrain that feeling in your mind. Look for the brightness of the water within the darker waves. Imagine the water’s coolness absorbing some of the overheated and overexcited pockets within your body (and mind). Use your breath to guide this image. Ingrain these feelings in your memory so you can call them up and use them down the line.
Watch a sunrise and sunset. Ocean sunrises and sunsets are as spectacular as they are in mountains and prairies—or really anywhere. Consider how your physical and psychic energies follow a similar arc, per moment, per situation, per day, per year, and so on. Ingrain this visual in your memory. You may like to photograph the images so that you have them for later. This way you can share them (and their energy) with loved-ones, to make memories and also to help guide their energy when they need it.
► Create imagery of joy. Look for and see joy in the natural environment. For you, this may be a trip to your favorite park, a place in the countryside, the mountains, or the beach. Perhaps it is being outside after dark and looking at star-studded night sky.
Don’t rely on just your eyes. Use your mind-vision to see the joy, sort of the way a musician might picture the notes of a melody. Continuing the music analogy, there are many other ways to see music—and energy. For example, let say you are listening to your favorite instrumental. What images does it conjure up in your mind? What if, instead of seeing pictures or images of things, you instead let yourself see a swirl of energy? Try this: Picture the joy you are witnessing—for example, a flower bud that has recently opened—as you might visualize light energy. Play with the color of the light you are seeing in your mind. Observe it. Make it red, the color associated with summer energy. What if it were in the night sky? What might this light look like? How would it be moving, swirling? What if it could dance? What would the dance look like? What would the music be?
Breathe this light image in and throughout your body. In Chinese the word ming means “bright.” When you say it twice, ming-ming, it means “very bright.” The brightness is not just what you might see in a bright light, for example, but a brightness of both sound and light. In Chinese ming refers to “sound and light” as one simultaneous thing: sound-light. There really is no such concept in English. So ming-ming is the flash in your mind of both auditory and visual stimulation as one thing.
Play with this energy of joy on the canvas of your mind like a laser show or let it flow throughout your mind-body like breath as you breathe in and out. Locate something joyous in the environment; see it this way, as ming-ming. Hear it. Breathe it. Repeat this visualization often to ingrain both the sound and visuals into your mind. Remember, the more parts of your brain you use, the better you will store the information and the better you will recall it when you need it.
Use music and literature. There are so many great songs (instrumentals and lyrical) that are about the joy in our environment. Make a playlist and bring the music with you. Or find a poem that you like that references an aspect of nature that brings you joy and carry a copy with you. Make a playlist of readings of your favorite poems. Put them on your iPod or cell phone. Use these to help enhance your pleasure.
Walk into the cool morning. Or try an athletic activity you enjoy: jogging, tennis, swimming, and so on. Let it soothe you and pull the excess heat of stressors out. This will incorporate yet another part of the brain—that part that involves motor skills—and will ingrain this cycle’s energy in your mind even further.
Feel your mind and body balancing the coolness and warmth. Remember that feeling so that you can practice it later to balance yourself in moments and months ahead. Pull the coolness in and let it balance internal tension that may be the result of lingering heated or compulsive thoughts, worries, and anxieties. Feel the coolness lightening things up, rinsing your focus clearer. Breathe in the cool air. Let it cool your body internally. Imagine it flowing through your body until you feel supple and relaxed, yet energized.
► Use heat to de-stress. Midday is your best time to feel this cycle’s energy peaking. Let it take the tension from you. Bring its warmth—via breath and visualization—to wherever in your body you feel the effects of tension.
If you need a jump-start, visualize summer’s energy surging up from the ground, down from above, and in from all around, and let it fuel your fire and flare it to full. Use this clean, surging energy to get out of any doldrums.
Shortly after midday is a good time to start connecting dots from information you have gathered. Bring the contract you wrote up in the morning with you to lunch when you meet your new client and nail it. Take the information you gathered all morning to write a professional presentation and now write it. This is your window to hit your targets dead-on.
► Amplify summer energy. Use different parts of your brain to help you ingrain the effects of summer’s rising energy. Try plenty of movement (sport, tai chi, yoga, walking, gardening), music, pictures, and scents (natural and otherwise—perfumes, colognes, even scents like sunblock and moistening creams and oils). These will lock summer’s rising energy in your memory and help you unlock it faster whenever you need it.
Use a slide show. Record your best images of summer (audios, videos, photos) and combine with a musical soundtrack you either recorded during these summery moments or one you made later that, for you, connects. Put one favorite calming show and one energizing show on your iPod or cellphone so you will have it during the months ahead whenever you need a boost of calming or alerting energy.
Meditate daily. Imagine (and feel) summer’s high energy flowing through you like breath flows through a flute. Pay particular attention to it as it warms your heart and enlivens it with joy. Let this joy circulate through your whole body and mind. Imagine any stressors leaving your mind and body when you exhale. Use your breathing to guide them out.
Know your limits. It is easy in this season to become anxious to get results. After all, you are putting a lot of effort into things. Sometimes anxieties and compulsions come from feeling that you are not dealing with certain matters. Don’t punish yourself and wind up using this great surging energy to run yourself into the ground. Instead, detach a little, eat well, skim off some worry-energy with exercise or physical activity, re-charge with positive energy, reach out to friends, and use relaxing techniques. Sometimes answers can come to you by happenstance. These are just as good and less costly for you. Whether you have to find solutions or they find you, you will need to balance and re-charge as you go forward. Then, when opportunity arises, you will be in the best position to see your goal and act upon it.
Push your limits. Identify something in your life you want to change. Use your summer’s surging energy to get you there. Make a list of ways you can begin to put that change into motion. Stay positive. Start right away. Stay on track. Stay balanced.
Keep a record. You will surely have your favorite things to do, but other things may come into play as your season rolls on. You’ll know what worked and what didn’t, and you’ll have made observations—why you think one thing worked and something else didn’t. What made a certain activity work better? When you see a pattern, you’ll have an important piece of information about yourself—for example, This works when I am having a bad day at work, but not when I have had a bad day at home. Use this information to improve your techniques and activities next time around.
Cool off—inside out. At night, find the cooler energy within you and channel it to cool off externally. As afternoon progresses and you feel your own energy and nature’s beginning to wane, you will discover a lot of creative ideas bubbling up into your consciousness. Relax and give some attention to these. This is a great time of day to see all kinds of ways you can re-tool the day’s events and information to better hit your goals or drive them to new places. It is one of the best times of day to problem-solve. But don’t ruminate. Just unwind. Kick back and observe the details as if they were reflections on top of a clear mountain lake. Then, later, think about how they might piece together. But, again, don’t over-do it.
If it is a cool night, go outside or open a window. Visualize the dark coolness. If it is a damp or wet night let the water temper and balance tensions. Find where the day’s stressors are welled up in your body. You will be able to feel tightness—usually in your chest area, shoulders, back, and sometimes legs. Cool yourself down.
Listen to nature’s night-sounds. Sometimes it is fun and relaxing to open your window at night and listen to the music of the night creatures. You may choose to hear them as a melodic symphony or, at other times, simply like white noise. Listen to the rhythms. Feel them. With your mind, attach the waning, cooler energy of night to the sounds. Bring that slower, calmer energy inward to unwind your body as well as any psychological heaviness.
Eat light. Pay attention to how different foods and diets make you feel. What you are going for is feeling simultaneously calm and energized. Not too much one way or the other. Many foods provide a cooling effect, and TCM encourages you to use these during the hot season, especially if you are feeling too jumpy or stressed. Increase consumption of cool foods to help keep the body moist and strong and the mind calmer. Watermelon, cucumber, and celery are all recommended. Salads work very well, as do raw veggies.
Use more teas, especially green tea, floral teas, and mints like peppermint. These cooling foods help cleanse the body. Fish is a good summer choice for a main meal and will help you avoid fattier, greasier meals.
Exercise moderation. Too much of any foods, even seasonal ones, can easily cause indigestion during this period. Be sure to get enough protein to maintain your higher energy. This will vary per individual. I personally try to keep the carbs down, as too many make me feel sluggish. I do, however, like natural carbs, the kind you get in fruits and vegetables. Check out green juices and assortments of vegetable-and-fruit-combo drinks.
Eat light and use your spices to aid in warding off potential digestion issues connected with the element of fire. It is important to be hydrated. Try to stay cool in order to balance and also to call forth your yin energy.

Do what feels right to you. You will either feel balanced (relaxed and energized) or you will discover you are tipping too far one way or the other. In that case, adjust.

Joseph Cardillo, PhD, is a top-selling author in the fields of health, mind-body-spirit, and psychology. His books, Your Playlist Can Change Your Life; Can I Have Your Attention? How to Think Fast, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Concentration; Be Like Water; and Bow to Life, have inspired people of all ages worldwide. He holds a doctorate in holistic psychology and mind-body-medicine and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and PsychologyToday

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