Many thanks to the many artists who have covered “Summertime” for the inspiration behind this title. For a lot of us, living has not been easy in these past few months. Between the major Japanese earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, ravaging tornadoes in northeast, central and southern United States, flooding of the Mississippi River, and the still uncertain economy, the spring season had its fair share of harsh moments. With the summer season almost upon us, we now have the opportunity to take a breather and enjoy a respite, but only if we know how to accurately adapt our diets and lifestyles to the seasonal change.

First, we must understand the energetic impact of this season. The energy of the year peaks in summertime. It is the most yang season, as evidenced by nature – as the energy of spring climbs upward into summer, tree and flower buds slowly grow and then explode into bloom. Our world has become luscious, green and alive overnight.

For most people, this strong, active energy necessitates in eating and living a little more yin and passively to stay in balance with the season and our environment. As always, consider your lifestyle as an individual and how it is best for you personally to adapt to this change in season, but in general:

Dishes need to be cooked less, and more light fresh dishes should be introduced into daily meals.
Enjoy all of the seasonal fresh vegetables and fruit that are commonly grown in your area.
Instead of adding oil early on in cooked dishes, add it at the end.
Avoid eating baked, fried, salty and animal food dishes.
Avoid overindulging in liquids and spices.
Be aware that summer is a sensitive time for both your heart and small intestines.
And make sure you eat at least one sea vegetable dish a week, particularly those using nori.

Overall, this is the time to let your condition get a little more expanded and flexible, but be careful about overdoing it – one easy way to keep your condition balanced in this season is to eat less, but still keep your mealtimes regular every day. “Regular meals regulate all of your body’s cycles — physical, emotional and mental. They make your energy and life more stable.” (From “The Great Life Diet”)

Imagine this season like its 9 Star Ki element – fire: Once a fire is ignited, as long as there is fuel to burn, it will keep its flame alive. Similarly, to produce and prosper in your own life, you do not have push that hard to see projects and relationships flourish this summer. Lay back and relax – allow the energy of the season to work for you.

Summer gives us the opportunity to develop the more peripheral yin aspects of our personalities. It’s also the easiest time to be supported personally by the energy of our environment and nature, so dream big and bring ideas into fruition. Maximize this opportunity by living simply and structured. “Order and structure are what give us vitality, adaptability and creativity, confidence and a zest for life.” (From “The Great Life Diet”)

And of course, take time to explore the outdoors and walk for at least 30 minutes every day. I like to say that walking is “the brown rice of physical activity” because it helps to keep the mind balanced and the body flexible.

I hope you will join me in having a wonderful summer. And please consider visiting us at the Strengthening Health Institute these next couple of months at one of our many programs or at our monthly potluck dinners.