Spring, time to shed the layers!


Spring, a lovely reminder of how beautiful change can truly be - Unknown

Chinese Medicine is engrained in Daoist philosophy, which suggests that when our bodies are in harmony with nature or our surrounds, ‘The Dao’, then we are healthy and there is an abundant supply of qi; which is our life force that runs through an unseen network of meridians across the body. The flow of qi becomes depleted or blocked due to living outside of this natural state, by losing this connection with the Dao harmony or balance is lost and this is when illness follows.


As Spring arrives, we begin to come out of the dormancy of Winter, where we have retreated, rested, reflected and brought our energy inwards to nurture our roots. Spring finally brings the warmth of the sun that awakens our energy… it’s time for revitalisation, beginning new things, growth and change.


Spring is the season of the ‘Wood’ element, which corresponds to the Liver and Gallbladder energy. This energy moves up and out and this is also reflected in nature; we begin to see more green sprouts, flower buds and life rising out of the Winter slumber. The plant life and trees are a strong reflection of the Wood element, watching a plant pushing its way through pavement shows how unstoppable the Wood element is; it will always find its way around obstacles just to continue to grow. Early stages of growth can also be rapid and jerky, but with time it strengthens, always remaining flexible and bending easily with the wind, and whilst establishing immense growth above, it has a deeply rooted system below the ground.


As we start to feel the changes in the season and this uprising of energy to move, it’s time to begin the work of the Wood element and we should embrace this universal energy. Spring is all about shedding the layers; the body naturally begins the cleansing process and we don’t feel the urge to eat as much. It’s a time for activity and play, we feel more abundant in energy and enjoy rising earlier, exercising more frequently, planning new projects and starting and being open to new things.


However, during this early transitional period as nature slowly stirs, there is a sense of things picking up speed, but it can also be a bit erratic; like nature can’t make up her mind and can feel a bit unsure how to get started. Sunny warmer days can be followed by gusty and cooler days with colder mornings and evenings, so we need to protect ourselves from the invasion of the cold and wind, as it can be damaging to the Liver energy, it is also important we remember to stretch and loosen the muscles and tendons and wear loose clothing when exercising. If we do struggle with this transitionary period ourselves, it’s a sign our Wood element needs some attention.


Food and diet should be focused on eating less and cleansing the body of the fats and heavy foods of the Winter, this is the best time to start a cleanse to relieve the Liver of stagnation; fasting or beginning juicing can be helpful. As heavy meals congest the Liver, eating light stir fried or steamed meals with fresh and sweet tasting produce, enhanced with the flavours of Spring, which are sour and bitter, will all nourish and support the expanding Liver energy. Avoid foods that sink the Liver energy, which are salty and heavy foods like soy sauce, miso or sodium rich meats.


Spring represents youth, which raw foods are said to remind the body of our youthful stages of life to bring about renewal, so young plants such as fresh sprouts, fresh greens and wheat or cereal grasses are encouraged. Raw foods can be increased when there is heat present in an individual and in warmer climates but be mindful not to do this in excess as it can weaken the digestion, triggering excessive cleansing. It shouldn’t be used if there are signs of weakness or deficiency in the body or if the bowel is inflamed in anyway.


Seasonal foods to include are leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, young beetroots, baby carrots and other starchy sweet vegetables and grains, legumes and seeds all considered sweet in flavour. Including a variety herbs such as basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf, parsley or mint, as well as adding honey to sweeten foods. Sour foods such as lemon, lime and grapefruit and fermented foods like sauerkraut are also beneficial.


The energy of the Wood element is a strong uprising force, it demands expression, and the loudest sound our bodies can make is a shout, the sound related to the Wood element, and the emotions related to the Wood element are frustration, anger and resentment. When our soul isn't feeling fulfilled we can feel frustrated with the obstacles in our path, it stops our movement forward and sometimes we need to shout to be heard; we need to emphasise with our loudest expression what we need to move forward and live the life we desire. However, just as our bodies purge unwanted food residue, it is also good to cleanse excessive desires and the unhealthy emotions that can accompany it, such as dissatisfaction, impatience, sadness and anger. The indulgence of these emotions or remaining in a depressive state at this time can be damaging to the Liver energy. So it’s the perfect time to spring clean the emotions, develop equanimity, let go and make way for the new and embrace the energy of being open and unsuppressed physically and emotionally. Spend time planting the seeds for your hopes and dreams and nurture them. Writing down new goals, being accountable for ourselves, getting in touch with our true nature and being creative nurtures our soul and allows us to reach our full potential and bloom.


Enjoy the abundance of energy and beauty to inspire you in the Spring, start your day with fresh air and a brisk walk and warm lemon water, but remember to keep the body protected from the wind and stay warm, don’t peel off the layers too quickly. And if for any reason you are feeling stuck or stagnant, be sure to book in with one of our practitioners to get you back on track, as life should be lived with balance, love and vitality and the courage to be the full expression of ourselves.





Sources:

Di, H. (1995). The Yellow Emperor’s classic of medicine: a new translation of the neijing suwen with commentary. (M. Ni, Trans.)

Kirkwood, J. (2016). The way of the five elements.

Pritchard, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods (3rd edition).

Maciocia, Giovanni (2009). The psyche in chinese medicine

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