THE SPIRIT OF SPRING IN CHINESE MEDICINE
Updated: Oct 10, 2022
SPRING - rebirth
Spring is in front of our doors. Maybe not as warm as we'd like yet, but we can feel it approaching. As nature wakes, so does our energy, becoming more vibrant, inviting us outside to stretch our arms, legs, tendons, and muscles. Nature is slowly starting to show the evidence of this awaken energy – new growth. Think of a tree, beginning to bud and blossom, its leaves sprouting a vigorous green.
Flexibility of the WOOD element
A tree is the icon of the Wood element that correlates with spring, the growth, green color, and the wind. We humans also feel this call to movement, making plans, tackling projects. It's an irresistable call to action that will grow in the coming months as inward-looking yin is going through transformation into outward-looking yang.
The movement of Wood element is upwards and outwards – like in a tree! It is an exploding impulse, a pushing of life. Wood energy is dynamic, flexible and unstoppable force for action. And when that force meets an obstacle, the energy builds up and tries to find a way around the obstacle to achieve its goals and desires. Without this force no action would ever be accomplished.
Beware of the WIND!
The climatic condition of the Wood element is wind. Wind – strong winds in nature as well as drafts or air conditioning - can easily penetrate the body and cause wind invasion symptoms such as stiff neck, headache, sneezing, runny nose, scratchy throat, fever, aching joints or even facial paralysis. Let's keep warm and protect ourself from the wind with layers and scarf (as wind most of the time enters the body through the neck, particularly in the upper part).
»Is life worth living? It all depends on the LIVER!« (William James)
Who knows what William James had in mind when he wrote this. Perhaps TCM can give an explanation. In spiritual sense, the Wood element is about finding one's true path in life. The organ associated with the Wood is the Liver, together with its companion organ, the Gall Bladder.
Liver is a manifestation of strength, planning for the future, and the great and visible impulse of life. Gall Bladder's energy is about a courage, wise judgement and making decisions to carry out the plans the Liver is making. The Chinese say that a person who is timid, shy, indecisive, anxious and wary has 'a small gall bladder'. To ensure optimal support from these organs, try to be in bed by 11pm ideally as the Gall Bladder regenerates from 11 at night to 1 in the morning and the Liver from 1 to 3 in the morning.
Free flow of EMOTIONS
In Chinese medicine, Liver is given an important place in the governing of emotions in sense of balancing them, keeping them in harmony, and promoting their free circulation. For our health and wellbeing, it is crucial for emotions not to be obstructed. If an emotion is blocked for a longer period of time it will give rise to illness (check out my blog How are emotions cause of disease?).
Though the Liver has an overall influence on all emotions, it has a special relationship with anger. The term “anger”, of course, should be understood broadly, which includes several others emotional states, such as resentment, repressed anger, feeling aggrieved, frustration, irritation, rage, indignation, animosity,bitterness or depression as an “anger turned inward”.
Seeing the world with fresh EYES
The sense organs of Wood are eyes and any conditions that affect the eyes, such as poor vision, eye infections, red or itchy eyes, are indications of an imbalance of Wood. Metaphorically, the arrival of spring and Wood inspire us to see the world with fresh eyes.
It's all about GREEN & SOUR
In spring our care should focus on supporting Liver and Gall Bladder with respect to diet, mangement of stress and emotions, and lifestyle. For example, the color green is predominant in spring and the taste of spring is sour — these are perfect places to focus your eating awareness.
Our diet in spring should emphasize fresh dark green leafy vegetables (like kale, dandelion greens, spirulina, chlorella, parsley, Swiss chard, spinach), especially young plants and sprouts, and sour foods (such as lemons, limes, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi) that are most nourishing for Liver and Gall Bladder. Besides that, to boost the Wood element in our bodies, we should consider wearing some green clothing this time, or decorating our home with green plants. Your diet in spring should emphasize fresh dark green leafy vegetables, especially young plants and sprouts, and sour foods that are most nourishing for Liver and Gall Bladder. Besides that, to boost the Wood element in our bodies, consider wearing green clothing, or decorating your homes with green plants. Green in any form, is influential.
Now is the time to start doing as many sports activities as possible outside, in the fresh air. Brisk walks, hikes, light running, stretching exercises, yoga, qigong or taijiquan to loosen the tendons (tissues related to the Wood element).
ACUPRESSURE on Taichong
To conclude, I invite you to try some acupressure on a very powerful (and my favorite) point on the Liver channel,Taichong (Great Rushing/Liver 3). In general, this point is one of the great tonic points of the body and it directly treats liver as an organ. Stimulating this point will be beneficial for:
- eye conditions
- abdominal distention and pain
- menstrual irregularities and PMS
- urinary and genital conditions
- headaches (behind the eyes and temporal)
- detox from too much greasy food, alcohol or medications
- emotions, such as anger, agitation, frustration, irritation
- calming the mind
Taichong lies on the top of the foot in a large hollow between the 1st and 2nd toes, halfway along metatarsal bones. There will probably be a sensitive spot.
Close your eyes, relax, connect with your body and apply moderate, direct pressure to the point for a few minutes. Imagine the Qi is flowing freely throughout your body.
A short recap on how most effectively take advantage of the spring season and renew your health: be flexible as a tree, move and be active outdoors, protect yourself from the wind, eat lots of green and sour foods, surround yourself in the color green, express your anger in a proper way, manage the stress, and massage Liver 3 acupoint.
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