Human bodies are complicated organisms, and they go through cycles, just like every living thing in the universe. Traditional Cinese Medicine (TCM) views the body as the microcosm that mirrors the larger macrocosm of the universe.
It is believed that we experience this connection most strongly during the change of seasons. Because the energetic shift that occur during the seasonal changes are reflected in our physical and emotional selves, it is important to adopt ways to support these transitions.
The seasons of spring and autumn are seasons of transition in the mid-latitudes, they hold onto memories of the season before while providing glimpses of the season to come.
Every time a change occurs in our life, we embark on a transition journey. There are practical steps we can take to grow through life's inevitable ups and downs.
If we see change as a naturally occuring event-much like the change of seasons- then we can embrace change as a gift and an invitation to improve and enhance our lives.
Spring is especially dynamic and dramatic in its shift from Winter. In TCM, this is a transition from a season of Yin to a season of Yang:
dark to light,
death to growth,
and cold to warmth.
Similar to how new growth begins to push through the frozen Earth in Spring, that energetic blueprint is also present in our bodies and minds. Reflective of this bursting forth of new growth, budding flowers, and sprouting leaves, the Wood element characteristics are persistence, creative potential, and also the emotion anger.
In TCM, Spring is associated with the Wood element and the Liver and Gallbladder organ and channel system.
The Liver system’s energetics are responsible for the free flow of energy in the body, physically and emotionally. Like the growth of new plants in Spring, the movement of the Liver system is upward and outward.
Transitioning from the depths of Winter into the first days of Spring brings a large shift to our external environments – a change that is also reflected in our bodies and mind
Winter is associated with the Kidney system, our source of Qi or vital energy, and it is a time of restoration and retreating inward. Resting in the Winter ensures that we enter into Spring healthy and vital.
Moving from this dark, cold, stillness to a season of movement, growth, and light can be supported through subtle lifestyle and dietary adjustments and can help manage existing imbalances that may surface at this time.
Physically imbalance can present as muscle tension, premenstrual syndrome, breast tenderness, headaches, elevated blood pressure, bitter taste in the mouth, rib side pain and distension, menstrual irregularities, and digestive issues.
In contrast, signs of a healthy Liver and Gallbladder system are joy, feeling inspired, fulfilled,
assertive, decisive, forgiving, vibrant and healthy. The challenge for a wood type is to learn to control anger and channel it into positive work that benefits all people.
In TCM the Liver is responsible for the free flow of energy, emotions, and blood in the body. It is largely affected by the emotion of anger.
Feeling frustrated, irritable, and stressed may point to an imbalance in this system, but chronic experiences of these emotions themselves may also lead to imbalance.
Finding healthy ways to express and manage emotions will help support the Liver system and a smoother transition to Spring. Look for ways to reduce stress and ask for help if neede. Try working through emotions and stress with journaling, creating art, laughter, or working with a licensed therapist.
Spring feels like a fresh start.
Similar to clearing out our homes and physical spaces, according toTCM, Spring is a time to let go of what no longer serves you emotionally as well.
It is a time to welcome fresh perspectives and let go of ideas of how things should have been or how the should be.
This is also a good time to practice forgiveness of self and others
Foods to Include are organic vegetables including dark green, leafy vegetables such as dandelion greens, chard, arugula, and watercress.
Choose organic, hormone-free meat. Chemicals are overtaxing on the Liver so opt for hormone-free and organic.
Start your mornings with water with lemon and try cooking with pungent and sweet herbs such as rosemary, fennel, caraway, oregano, citrus, vinegar, and dill. Research shows substances in Milk thistle may also support a healthy liver function.
Foods to Limit are greasy, fatty and fried foods which are particularly taxing on your Liver.
Movement helps to circulate the energy of the body. Because the Liver is responsible of the smooth flow of blood and emotions throughout the body, it is the system most affected by stagnation.
As the energy levels in the environment rise with the start of Spring, you may find yourself feeling more restless. Try incorporating more movement into your daily routine with light jogging, yoga, brisk walks, dancing or a movement that feels best to you.
Just as the season takes its time to shift into full bloom, take your time in this transition as your body and mind are slowly waking up from winter. Aim for around 30 minutes exercise a day.
Protect from the Wind
Spring weather is often unpredictable and windy. As the temperatures rise, some days may still remain cool. Protect yourself from wind and keep warm to mantain optimal health while adjusting to the new season by carrying a light scarf with you and wearing layers.
In TCM, the Liver channel system is more susceptible to the element of wind.Additionally, the nape of the neck is particularly vulnerable to wind and drafts. Layer up and don't forget your scarf.
Imagine a forest of trees. These trees illustrate an example of a healthy Wood element, the element associated with Spring. They are rooted, yet flexible. When wind comes, the branches bend and sway relative to the strength of the wind. Their strong roots allow them to bend without falling over, yet they are flexible enough to not resist the movement or snap.
The image of the forest reminds us to stay calm, flexible, and unbothered by fleeting deviations from our path instead of becoming tense and rigid.
Welcome this wisdom of the Wood element and invite flexibility into your awareness as we shift from the depths of winter to the brightness of Spring.
Enjoy living in tune with the season!