“…I don’t just wish you rain, Beloved – I wish you the beauty of storms…”
– John Geddes, A Familiar Rain
Spring is a season of such promise and hope, representing rebirth, revision, renewal and action. The channels associated with spring – the Liver and Gallbladder – are responsible for the smooth flow of energy, furnishing us with the decisiveness to choose our path and the stamina to move forward with confidence, clarity and strength. The element of Wood is symbolic of transformation and expansion, coaxing us to stretch beyond our limits and bring form to the notions pondered in the quiet space of winter. The spirit of the season, the Hun, gives us the internal guidance and intuition to convert our visions into creation.
With all this pent up potential just begging to be unleashed, the transition from winter to spring can be one of the most challenging, and we only need to peek out the window for some insight into why.
Just as the buds sit tightly on the trees, eager to bloom at the sun’s command, we’ve been waiting patiently for the weather to turn and the energy of our environment to shift and propel us forward. The cruel tease of warmer days, full of false starts and dramatic swings, creates a palpable tension all around us. The more we are stalled, the more stagnant we feel, and this stagnation slows the system down, causing irritability, anger, depression and inaction. To better handle the upheaval and enter your personal spring with grace, try these seasonal tips:
Keep the energy flowing: Inertia is a hard thing to overcome. Finding the initial motivation to transition from winter contemplation into spring action can feel monumental when the weather is not yet cooperating. The channels associated with spring are both responsible for and in need of smooth movement. When we feel stuck, it mucks up the system and the repercussions affect our whole being, causing a range of emotions from debilitating depression to inexplicable rage and everything in between. The sooner we start moving – be it forward with a project or physically with our bodies – the healthier and more fulfilled we will feel.
Protect yourself from pernicious winds: It always makes me chuckle to read ancient Chinese medicine texts and their description of wind as a nefarious entity, carrying disease into the body. But we are all familiar with that feeling of a quick chill or stiffness to the back of the neck, right before we catch a cold. Or the way the spine seems to stiffen up, right before we throw out our back. Or an uncontrollable body spasm that seems to come out of nowhere. We also know that heavy winds are a hallmark of the start of spring. The easiest way to protect ourselves from whatever the wind may carry, or even just from the instinct to pull up and tighten our shoulders is simple: cover your neck.
Adjust your diet to the season: Eating seasonally and locally is a great way to help our bodies stay synchronized with our environment. In spring, with everything in bloom, our bodies can be reactive – itchy eyes, runny nose, brain fog. While nature is the culprit, it also provides the solution. The flavor associated with spring is sour. Things like citrus, berries, vinegar, tamarind, and greens (all types) can provide us some temporary relief by moving irritants out of our bodies and allowing the liver channel to perform its function. In fact, these foods share the properties of many of the herbal medicines used to help treat spring allergies. Speaking of…
Get ahead of your allergies: Do spring allergies take you out? Don’t wait until you are suffering to try and manage the symptoms. Come in early for your treatments and formulas to reduce the severity of your body’s reaction when the season peaks. As with everything, early intervention will give you the best results.
Exercise: The wood element governs the sinews and tendons. The more we nourish ourselves, the less vulnerable we are to injury. Keep your body warm and flexible by staying active and working up a sweat. Feed your body with water, healthy food, and interesting ideas. Get up every hour and stretch your limbs. Check your posture. Do lateral movements and twists that keep the sides of the body open. This is not the time of year for complacency so stretch yourself physically and see if it translates mentally.
Be flexible: A dry branch will snap under pressure while a healthy one bends with the wind. Attempting to exert too much control of anything will often create more obstacles than taking a step back and rolling with the inevitable ups and downs. In this season in particular, we are asked to be open emotionally, welcoming of new ideas, and willing to go with the flow.
Change is a shake-up, and the transition period can be unnerving. This season let’s sit with the discomfort, knowing that a shift is coming. Let’s take the first step, allowing that initial action to inspire us to continue forward. Creating the life we want requires bravery, but we choose the limits to our own potential. Why not make like a tree and reach for the sky?
Spring is coming. Are you ready?