Learning to Radiate Without Burning Out

fire element heart sacred rest Jul 26, 2021
Summer sun radiating in a field

If it were always summertime, 

The blazing heat would burn the garden,

Soil and roots, so that nothing would ever grow again. 

December is grim yet kind; Summer is laughter, and yet it burns.  -Rumi


It’s easy to forget, but we start with Fire. Not just the animated merging of sperm and egg, but the Fire that governs the persistent beating of our fleshy hearts which begins just a brief 22 days after conception. These sparked-wonders of our hearts have something to teach us about constancy and commitment, continuing to beat without rest until the moment of our deaths. 


The Fire element of summer urges us toward a deeper intimacy with the world. Bare shoulders, dripping honeycombs, shoeless feet on dirt, raspberry stained chins, everything seems to want to expand and accelerate in a grand display of kinetic eroticism. And with all of the light from the outer sun, the inner sun of our heart strengthens, it grows our “glow.” At full illumination, this radiance becomes visible to the naked eye, which is why actors are known as “stars,” and saints are depicted as being surrounded by brilliant halos and believed to be “illuminated.” 


Given the right conditions, it is our innate tendency to shine. 


But the spirit of our heart must learn a sense of discernment so that it is able to use its deepest sense of knowing in order to respond best in each moment. It must learn to radiate without burning out. 


The I Ching speaks of the Fire element as a paradox, something that is bright but that has darkness at its core. This makes me think of the sun, so bright in its solar flares but so hot it burns black in its center. The Fire element’s yang luminosity, heat, and activity, are dependent on its relationship to its dark and nourishing yin twin. 


Lately my heart has been speaking to me about exploring what seems limited, fixed, or opposite, seeking out the hidden complexities and connections. Fire is the trickster element of transformation, burning wood into nutritive ash, asking us to swallow our certainties, surrender our longing to control, and move beyond our assumed confines. 


It’s not either / or. It’s both / and. 

I experience both...

Expansion and boundaries.

Vulnerability and protection.

Confusion and contentment.

Deep rest and purposeful work. 


No matter your recent weather or Fire’s external expression around you, this is that point in the summer when it is beneficial to check in with the balancing act of your inner-fire, making sure you are not being burned out by its exuberance.  


You might ask:


What are my reserves like right now, do I need more rest?


Do I have ways to clear the energy when I get too overwhelmed, slimed, anxious, or hopeless?


How are my current practices going, are they taking care of me well? 


Am I asking for help?


And if you feel like you need to, incorporate more yin activities by: 

Going to Fire’s intimate opposite of Water, emerging yourself in a local ocean, lake, or river. 

Taking naps or lying down for the hottest part of the day in a dark room, closing your eyes. 

Slowing down your activities by the time the sun sets (with gentle stretching, listening to music, practicing breathwork or meditation, and generally slow down).

Continuing to disrupt any inner patterns of proving your worth through your doing, feeling guilty for resting, and various other signs of internalized capitalism. 


And two books I really love about the spirit of rest:


Radiant Rest

With an open and tender heart,


Newsletter July, 2021.