Creating A Spring Within
Finally, there is a softness to the winds. The ground under our feet is crawling with insects working hard for the growing season. Slowly, after a long winter, our plant relatives are pushing up towards the light. The Yang energy is rising and the Earth is vibrating with new life. It is springtime!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring creates Wind in Heaven and Wood on Earth. Wood element is created by Water (Winter) and gives birth to Fire (Summer). It is controlled by Metal (Fall) and it controls Earth (Late Summer/Seasonal Transitions).
As an extension and representation of Nature, the Wood energy in the human body is present in the Liver and Gallbladder systems. Liver ensures the smooth flow and proper direction of Qi, which makes it responsible for the planning of the overall bodily functions. At a psychospiritual level, Liver relates to how we experience emotions and influences our capacity to make plans and have a direction in life. Liver’s Yang pair- the Gallbladder, stores and secretes bile, and is responsible for our capacity to make decisions, and our drive to act on individual initiatives.
The Wood element holds tremendous power to gather and organize energy. In Nature, it is this energy that cracks seeds open to reach for the light, and allows trees to grow tall in strength. Wood energy allows for strength and flexibility in the body and the psyche.
In disharmony, the Wood energy can create a variety of physical symptoms including: headaches, menstrual irregularities, digestive issues, tight and painful tissues, and insomnia. In our psyche, Wood in excess may present as rigidity in mind and impulses, irritability, and unreasonable anger; while wood in deficiency may create a lack of direction, passive impulses and thoughts, reservations on taking up space, indecision, and lack of courage.
The question then becomes, how do we harmonize our Qi and personal experiences with the season outside? How do we awaken our spirit and our body after this long winter (and long year) to move forward? How do we create a spring within so we can grow in abundance? Here is some TCM inspiration*:
Spring in The Kitchen
- Pungent and sweet flavours support the rising, expanding quality of the season.
- Culinary herbs such as basil, fennel, rosemary, and bay leaf are flavourful additions to our plates.
- Complex carbohydrates (ie. legumes and grains) have a sweet flavour and are particularly favoured sprouted.
- Earth provides what is needed in our bodies each season. Fresh sprouts are wonderful to support the spring cleanse and they are all around us!
- Wild arugula, nettles, dandelions, lemon balm to name a few!
- Remember to find a balance between raw and cooked foods, as too much raw foods can be damaging to our digestive fires. (especially in the cold-damp climate of the island!)
- During spring, food is best cooked at high temperatures for a short period of time, as well as steamed lightly.
- Bitter + Sour flavours can reduce excess of the Liver. Vinegar can be a great ally to remove liver stagnation (may represent as depression or indigestion). Start your day with a glass of water with 1 tbsp of ACV and 1 tsp of honey.
Spring in The Psyche
- If you have the space and access, allow for the full expression of your emotions. Feelings of anger, resentment, moodiness, irritability are common during this time. Please remember that anger doesn’t equal violence. Giving attention to these negatively labeled feelings in constructive ways can allow us to create space for creativity and self-expression.
- Emotions are experienced in our bodies. Engaging in mindful somatic movements can be useful. Put your feet on the ground, and if you are called to: dance it out! (Or run, lift weights, do a spin class!)
- Journaling, the simple act of putting pen to paper, can be a very useful and accessible practice to sort through our emotions. Here are some questions to ponder upon,
- How can I support my growing season?
- How do I navigate through difficulties as I sprout and grow? Am I able to plan ahead and strategize? What may be holding me back?
- Do I allow for flexibility to bend and not break with the wind?
- Is anger present in my experience? Does it blind my capacity to see clearly?
- Can I envision the future? Can I dream and reach for the sky while grounding myself in realities?
- Am I able to take up space in this world?
Spring in The Body
- Tend to your Liver and Gallbladder to allow a shift from the heaviness of Winter:
- Drink enough water to support your body’s cleansing mechanisms.
- Move your body in brisk ways to allow for free flow of Qi.
- If you have access, receiving manual therapies (ie. acupuncture, massage, osteopathy) can be helpful in grounding in our bodies and supporting our nervous systems.
- Try acupressure at home on Liver 3 ( Taichong) – Great Rushing
- Location: On the dorsum of the foot, in the hollow distal to the junction of the first and second metatarsal bones.
- An Earth point on a Wood channel, this is an incredibly versatile point that allows for grounding, nourishment, and movement. Clinical Indications include, promoting free flow of Qi across the body, headaches, dizziness, irregular menstruation (ie. amenorrhea), digestive issues (ie. diarrhea, constipation), depression, anxiety.
- Massage this point daily (or as needed) while breathing through the sensations.
- I love sending my patients home with press tacks on this point!
- Get poked! Acupuncture is a fabulous way of checking in with yourself and balancing your Qi with the season. **
*Disclaimer: This information is meant to invite curiosity and inspiration about what TCM Acupuncture can offer to one’s wellness. TCM is a rich and nuanced medicine that takes a comprehensive and holistic approach to wellness. If available to you, please reach out to a licensed TCM Acupuncturist / Practitioner/ Doctor to receive treatments and lifestyle counselling tailored to your unique self.
** You can find me at Island Optimal Health+Performance (Rutherford Location) on Monday and Tuesdays!.
The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.
The Tao of Trauma by Alaine D. Duncan + Kathy L. Kain.MD.
Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide by Giovanni Maciocia.
Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements by Dianne M. Connelly,PhD., M.Ac.
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.