In The Good Ol' Summertime...
by Santha Cooke, MS, LMT
well comes more easily in summer, and that makes this an ideal time for building
habits and understandings, which will create vigor and vitality all year long.
Here in the Hudson Valley we live in a land of astonishing seasonal changes.
Even people sitting behind desks in air conditioned offices can't help but
notice, while those who spend time outdoors have a chance to more closely
observe the endless stream of small and large miracles through which one season
transforms into another.
ancient sages spent their lives immersed in the cycles of nature.
highly refined wisdom traditions for living in harmony with the changing
seasons, and these have been passed down to us in their agricultural methods, in
Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and herbal medicine, and in other time-honored
practices such as yoga and meditation. Sadly, many of these teachings fall by
the wayside in our profit-driven, high-speed, high-tech culture.
experience the resulting environmental degradation and skyrocketing costs of
living and medical care. Learning to live in harmony with the seasons can reduce
this waste and destruction, and create a more beautiful and abundant future for
A key to
this way of living is our way of eating. Each of us eats about 75,000 meals in
our lifetime. Our food becomes our blood.
Our blood becomes our body, our
health, our thoughts and actions in the world. Just as important, our food
production and distribution practices affect the life blood of the ecosystems
that sustain us: air, water, and soil. Isn't it imperative to learn to do this
really well, to make better food choices both for ourselves and for the larger
world? Summer in the Hudson Valley presents many pleasurable opportunities to
learn more about those choices.
most of fresh, locally grown organic produce. Visit local farmer's markets, join
a CSA (Community Sponsored and Agriculture), plant your own back yard vegetable
garden, or grow some herbs or vegetables in tubs or window boxes on your deck.
Learn the healing properties of particular foods or cooking methods - get to
know them like the old friends they are! On a very hot day, you may enjoy a
cucumber salad flavored with fresh mint - both cucumbers and mint cool the body,
and raw foods cool, cleanse and refresh. (See pg. 8).
not surprisingly, the foods nature provides locally and in season are those
needed to balance the energy of that season. Raw or lightly cooked early and
mid-summer vegetables such as green beans and zucchini provide light fresh
energy, in contrast to the well-cooked deep yellow vegetables like pumpkin and
squash that will provide sustaining warmth come autumn. Corn and quinoa are
nourishing grains that are particularly well suited to summer.
Take advantage of
the opportunity to rebuild and revitalize your organs in these warm days, so
that when the cold returns, they will be ready for another fall and winter.
means eating fresh, locally grown, seasonally appropriate whole foods.
weather also offers our muscles and joints an opportunity for healing, as
muscles relax and connective tissue softens. Long summer days allow for more
physical activity, which, together with a light, fresh, diet, often results in
weight loss and an experience of greater freedom of movement. This is an
excellent time to begin an appropriate exercise program and regular bodywork to
reach a new level of wellness. With guidance and support, old injuries can heal
and postural misalignments that strain muscles and joints can be corrected.
some people, this may mean regular stretching, for some it may mean aerobic
exercise or strength building, for some it may mean movement re-education or
rest. It is important to exercise with awareness, to avoid injury and
reinforcing patterns of mis-use.
to traditional Chinese medicine, summer is the season in which the Heart
blossoms. Indeed, the long days of summer give us time to do the things we love
and be with the people we love. This can be the deepest source of health and
healing as we build relationships and enjoy experiences that nourish our soul.
Take time this summer to try something new and do something you have always
wanted to do. Take time this summer to do nothing, to be with the ones you love.
Take time this summer to heal, which means - to become whole.
Cooke, MS, LMT is a New York State licensed massage therapist and certified
holistic health counselor. She serves as an ally to individuals seeking to build
health from the inside out. To find out more about the Whole Food - Whole People
health counseling program, call 845-266-4282 to schedule a FREE initial