Written by Rosa Lia, massage therapist, yoga teacher and Wellmother associate. We will be teaching together on the June women’s retreat in Portugal and look forward to working with you to ignite your fire.
Last Summer, after a lot of positive changes in my life, I found I couldn’t stay long outside. I usually love the sun and have travelled far across the earth to get closer to it. But last summer, I had such bad hay fever I had to stay inside for a lot of it.
After moving into a new home with a newish partner, owning my first car, having cleared out the old family home, and being full with bookings at work, I started to hit bumps. That sense of Spring growth (Wood) was meeting resistance as it came to Summer. The more I was aligned with my heart (Fire), the more blocks it built up. That high energy and momentum led me to crash the new car…very softly…into the back of someone else’s vehicle.
We often think the hardest part of the seasonal cycle is the phase of letting go: the dark of winter, the empty space. Those moments of loss, grief, miscarriage, the dark nights of the soul. I had moments like that in 2020, after closing down a business I had set up on the coast in Mexico, and being in Mexico City feeling stuck, purposeless, and without any passion for life. This could be seen as going into my well, my winter Waters, digging deep through the gunk to find the gold. Low times are undeniably challenging in ways unique to us and deserve a lot more honouring than they get.
You might want to watch my video on “Grief, Death and Stuck Souls”.
If we really dig deep though, we can create just as much resistance to the highs within our cycles. As I hit the back of that car, it brought up so much emotion I couldn’t explain. Everything was going well. I had the relationship I’d always wanted, I had begun a remedial massage course, I felt like I was moving forwards. But I could see echoed in my concrete garden the lack of really stepping into growth. Just as there were no flowers outside my window, I was resisting that Summer light, the full creative expression of myself. Yes, I was in connection, yes, I was growing, but I was also meeting a block.
Sometimes when we take leaps forwards, or make that change we have been longing to make, we hit the wall of our own resistance to growth. The wall of fear, doubting how long the good moments will last, going back to old patterns that block our growth, not allowing ourselves to fully receive all that life is holding out before us.
Fire in Chinese medicine represents the heart centre and our spirit, our Shen, residing within. Our Shen is our unique light, the sparkle in the eyes, the compass that guides us on our journey of life. Even though our bodies are built with the DNA of our parents, even though our ancestors’ lines run deep, we each have to go beyond what they have done and live our own truth.
The heart, connected to its wider Spirit, is where our body meets our soul. In our heart we find our why, we have all the codes for our purpose – which is so much more than our work or how we earn our money, it vibrates through every aspect of our life, including our relationships. Our heart inspires our creativity – creative living, by being open to inspiration with each breath.
In Yogic traditions, Fire is linked to the third chakra, manipura, our seat of power and strength in the solar plexus. Well we think of it as willpower, we can also see that love is a powerful force. The word courage so eloquently meets the two – a fierce strength, that comes from the heart. Cor is Latin for heart, and reminds us that our core, our centre, is in our heart (at least one of our many centres). My teacher, Anand Mehrotra, said that if we are only in our heart (air in yoga) then we can get lost in fantasy and idealism, wishing that the world was all rainbows and butterflies. It is the fire that grounds the heart, giving it the force to bring its visions onto the physical plane.
Even though Yogic and Chinese maps don’t neatly align, we can see that they are pointing to the same thing: the power of love. The elements with many names – fire, water, wood, metal, earth, air, ether – are not as abstract as they seem. The teachings from ancient traditions are based on an understanding of the connectedness of life (yoga means union). While we divide, name and categorise the elements, they will never fit neat boxes.
Elements within us
Just as we can see these elements out there in nature, so too are they alive within us. I’m sure we can relate to both maps: that fire in your belly when you are hungry to make something happen, that flame in your heart that shows you what you care about. The yogis called this jyoti – the divine light. This light that comes both from diving into our deep inner wells and also from fully stepping out into the Summer sun.
Just as it can be hard to let the good warm feelings in (including all that summer pollen in my case) it can also be hard to let in fire while staying grounded. It’s easy to get carried away with Fire’s excesses – festivals, creative projects, meeting new people, the start of a relationship, being at our peak. The Chinese called this “excess joy” where the fire is no longer contained but a wildfire, burning through our reserves, as we can no longer be alone, as we need constant stimulation and connection – hooked into social media and constant business.
“The secret of life is balance” someone once told me. Balancing all those varied expressions of connection and alone, of joy and sadness, of light and dark. The symbol of Yin Yang showing this fluid balance with one running into the other has so many meanings that a lifetime of exploration would only touch the surface. Balance: it is so simple but so complex. Riding the peak of an experience is a balancing act just like any other.
I used to think the teaching of Zen was not to go there, to the peak, to that joyful moment of the blossoming flowers of summer, because it has to have an end. But that’s a bit like telling a flower not to bloom because its petals will fall. Life needs all of it to be experienced.
How can we use this light?
So, how can we use this fire, this light, with wisdom? How can we let in more of its aliveness without burning out or losing clarity?
The beauty of the symbol of Yin Yang is that there is just a splash of light in the dark, and just a splash of dark in the light. Just as the night sky reveals the stars, so too does the Summer fire highlight our need to ground. To ride the peaks (Summer, ovulation, full creative flow) we need to stay rooted in our feet, just as a surfer’s flight relies on a steady footing.
And equally, when you fall down into the waters, the emotional wells, the rivers of menstruation, the grief of a miscarriage, the end of a phase of life, postnatally, post menopausally… you still have access to this light, this fire. Without burning yourself out, finding that gentle glow.
So wherever you are in your cycles, how are you relating to fire? How can you let in more of the light while staying grounded and present, honouring life’s challenges while creating room for more joy…
Practices to connect with fire
Focusing on your heart centre and visualising a gentle flame
Chanting “HA” loudly or a soft “haaw” with the breath
Lighting a candle or fire, being in the sunlight
Laughing, dancing, celebrating