Springtime from a Chinese Perspective
In Chinese philosophy, “Wu Xing” (or Five Element) theory can help us to understand life and the world around us through these 5 series of phases (seasons) and their associated correspondences and inter-relationships. In previous posts on this blog site, I’ve alluded to this before, and what follows below is a quick summary of how to work with the Spring season for best balance and harmony in Body, Mind & Spirit:
* Representative Color of Springtime:
Green is associated with Spring in 5 Element theory.
Take a break from all that computer work & rest your eyes by gazing at the surrounding greenery of Mother Nature.
* Element/Climate: Wood/Wind
◦ Be out in Nature more; take a walk in the woods, hug a tree & reconnect with the Earth.
◦ Avoid being exposed to too much wind on extremely windy days; if you have to, keep the back of your head & neck covered. There are acupuncture points along the DU and Bladder meridians in that vicinity that are susceptible to Wind invasion.
* Direction: East
◦ Honor each new day by taking a moment to face the East when you arise, or on your way out the door.
◦ See each sunrise as a new beginning; feel the warmth of the Sun on your face & be grateful for its energy to propel all things to grow.
* Challenge: Growth vs Feeling Stuck:
◦ Are you charging blindly ahead without careful thought (the Fool in the tarot deck), or have you carefully planned your strategies to move forward in life with grace, ease & control (Chariot in tarot deck)?
◦ Physical ailments: Allergies, coughing, sneezing, etc. Take good care of your lungs! Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory agent, pears will help moisten any dry cough, foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids and quercetin have antihistamine properties and can all help to support your immune system to fight seasonal allergies.
◦ Liver overacting on Spleen → stomach pains, acid regurg, diarrhea (no control) or constipation (holding on, stuck on what no longer serves you). Try a detox shake (the internet is loaded with suggestions) and minimize/eliminate any chemical (i.e. alcohol, cigarettes) that taxes your liver. A fast - even for 1 day - in keeping with the spiritual history of this season is highly recommended.
◦ Opens to the eyes – do you have clarity of vision for the season ahead? Are you predisposed to dizziness, red eyes, dryness or frequent tearing, mood swings, headaches?
◦ Governs blood, manifests in nails, sinews & tendons (just how flexible are you?)
◦ Is the “General in charge of Strategic Planning” – do you have the ability to make decisions, set direction for the season ahead?
Judgment, courage & determination to follow through on decisions made – do you sit on the fence, namby-pamby, wishy-washy, vacillate on moving forward; or are you brave enough to forge ahead?
* Time: Liver = 11pm - 1am; Gallbladder = 1am - 3am
Make note of what happens during these times that may be disturbing or stressful (e.g. disrupted sleep, vivid dreams, or any physical symptoms).
* Sound: Shouting
It is important to speak your truth but instead of shouting in anger and rage, find more appropriate ways to communicate and express yourself.
◦ Lift your voice & sing!
◦ Let the windows down & jam while you’re driving!
◦ Om in the shower!
* Release the emotions of your Liver through the sound of your voice.
* Flavor/Taste/Food: Sour
◦ Sour flavored foods support the Liver, but a sour taste in the mouth is not healthy. Talk to your Acupuncturist about this.
◦ Eat lots of green leafy vegetables (young dandelion leaves are a great Liver detoxifier), sprouts (mung & adzuki bean, sunflower seeds), asparagus, broccoli, kale, milk thistle, watercress, Shitake or Reishi mushrooms, and fresh fruits & citrus like lemons & limes.
◦ Patience (or lack thereof)
* An unbalanced Liver leads to depression, anxiety, outbursts.
The 5 elements all inter-relate & depend on each other.
Please note however, that the principle of 5 Element Theory is more complex than the above suggestions alone, as each phase is inter-dependent on the one preceding, following and interacting in cycles known as mutual generating/nourishing (aka “interpromoting”), and controlling/restraining (aka “interacting”). There are many other aspects to this cycle as well, which make it even more intricate in designing & individualizing an acupuncture treatment plan for our patients. Your local acupuncturist will design a treatment plan individualized for you in relation to the Spring season, whether it’s to detox the Liver, strengthen your decision making skills, help bring clarity of vision (literally & figuratively), nourish Liver Blood/Yin, or release stagnant Liver Qi so that you may grow 'confidently in the direction of your dreams’. Here’s hoping that the seeds of health that you have planted will spring forth this Equinox in a healthier, balanced You!
Audrey Steele, L.Ac.
"Earth, teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life…. teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring" (William Alexander).