Balance the Fire and Receive

Jun 13, 2024

As we move into the summer solstice soon here in the northern hemisphere, the rising heat reminds us we are in nature’s most yang season, fire.

I asked the students a question today: “What happens when a fire goes unattended?” They knew and replied, “It’s out of control, and then it burns out.”

Let’s remember, we are nature, and with this active season, we can burn out too. How can we balance this fiery Yang season? Simple answer, with some day-to-day yin movement and stillness.

In my Sifu’s class last week, he discussed how everyone says, “Take a breath.” Can you notice how that verbiage is action-oriented and grasping? He suggested we rephrase it to receive the breath. Don’t you already feel more calm knowing you can receive instead of take? I can feel my shoulders relax by focusing on the receiving of life through my breath. It’s a beautiful way to bring some yin into this season. How else can we allow ourselves to receive during the summer?

I have some invitations for you:

Say “no” to others and yes to yourself. As Annie Lamont says, “No is a complete sentence.” I feel you can also add a thank you afterwards—no, thank you. You do not have to say “yes” to everything you are invited to this summer, seriously. Pause and feel where it lands in your body. Is it a contraction—a tightness in the chest? That’s a no. Or does it feel expansive, and just the thought of it makes your heart sing—you breathe deeper—well, that’s a yes.

Give yourself breaks during the heat of the day, receive the breath consciously instead of being on auto-pilot, slow down, and be aware. Sit under a tree during your lunch break, eat mindfully, and do not scroll on your phone or check your email. Let go of multi-tasking.

Take a nap (10–15 minutes to reset), especially if you are working from home or if there’s a space in your office. Not into naps? Take a break and simply sit and observe, or move slowly with some Qigong.

Enjoy evening sunsets, sit by yourself or with a friend in silence, and simply BE = breathe and expand.

Allow silence throughout your day; maybe it’s when you are driving your car or taking a walk. Be with your thoughts, observe, notice, and let go without grasping. Instead of having thoughts, sound is always with you. Start simple—maybe only for 5 minutes—then you can go back to your music or podcast.

Set up a nighttime routine. This is huge; in fact, Mel Robbins just did a great episode on her podcast, “How to Stop Waking Up Feeling Tired: 7 Tips from a Harvard Researcher.” She’s also on YouTube, if you prefer to watch it instead of listen. Getting rest means turning off your screens an hour before bedtime; pick up a book instead. BTW, catching up on sleep is an old wives tale; it’s consistency at the same time of going to bed and waking up that works. And sleeping too much is just as bad on our system as not enough; I am referring to that catching up on sleep idea.

Give the gift of receiving to a stranger. Start up a conversation with the barista, the grocery store clerk, or the person next to you while you are waiting in line. Give them a sincere compliment, hey nice outfit, or love your tattoo. You get the idea, and let it be genuine from your heart, because that’s the gift.

I wrote more about summer and its elements back in 2021; feel free to revisit Creating a Joyful Summer.

Have fun this season! Get out there and play, and take some time to replenish your innate fire. Give and receive because when we give away all our time and energy, we burn out.



photo: Shubham Dhage @


  1. Thanks Toni for permission to say “No” and then Thank ourselves. I’ve got few prompts at my computer about saying yes, and am slowly learning to slow it down, and then thoughtfully decline! XOXO See you soon! Deb

    • Awe, thanks Deb for sharing how you are learning to slow down with a thoughtful decline. Love it and you!

  2. Love this wisdom, particularly around receiving breath and how to ascertain our yes/no. Thank you so much

    • Thanks Krissy, receiving is beautiful isn’t it? And, getting to know the wisdom of our body is priceless.


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