I am *so excited* that we have made it to spring: it’s finally time for life to awaken and for our energy to expand and move once again! Winter was all about pausing, and now we are moving into a season of allowing expansion to happen in all areas of our lives.
In five element theory, which underlies Chinese medical theory, spring is governed by the Wood element. To imagine what the Wood element is all about, think of saplings. They grow and transform quite rapidly, moving up and out of the earth as they unapologetically expand in size, canopy, and reach, growing up toward the light. However, young trees are also still quite supple, with immense flexibility built into their growing structures, so they can optimize the best possible way to be in their environment and reach the most light with their leaves. These fresh, healthy, moist, flexible trees adapt and bend easily in the wind, unlike their aging neighbors, which dry out and eventually become brittle, breakable.
In our lives, this Wood energy can look like an explosion of new growth, new ideas, the exciting beginnings of relationships and ventures as we look around and see the path emerging ahead. We also tend to do some cleaning and clear out those things we no longer need in spring, so we have plenty of open space for our exciting new visions to expand into.
In our bodies, another process is taking place: the Wood element rules the liver and gallbladder, organs which in Chinese medicine regulate the smooth flow of qi and the storage of blood. When our qi isn’t flowing smoothly, we start to feel stagnant, frustrated, irritable, angry; we may also get headaches, more muscle tension and injuries, digestive disturbances, and menstrual irregularities due to the stuck energy. It’s no accident that spring in the West is a time when we traditionally use herbs to detoxify the liver and clean the blood, letting go of toxins and stagnant energy leftover from the winter.
Spring is not a time to stay hidden; it’s a time to emerge, to let go of things that don’t support your evolution, and to allow your dreams and creative visions to emerge and grow. You can support this process by clearing space in your home, by cleansing your body with acupuncture and herbs that help you attune to the new season, by moving your body, and by allowing yourself to visualize and follow new creative ideas.
Here are some ideas for what you can do to support your liver qi and ease your way into spring. Wishing you joyful, interesting, expansive, health-enhancing new adventures!
The annoyances, grudges, and anger we hold onto aggravate our livers and keep our qi and blood from flowing smoothly; this manifests in our health in so many ways, most commonly a constant state of irritability/outbursts, headaches, PMS, digestive problems, and problems with vision and eyes. You can make things easier on yourself, on all the levels, by allowing yourself to feel whatever emotions are arising, and then forgiving. Forgiving whoever and whatever you may be holding onto anger towards, whether a person in your life, public figure, event, state of the world, and so on. Don’t forget that this includes the deeper work of forgiving yourself for whatever judgments and anger you might be directing at yourself; this is the perfect time of year to clean out the emotional closet, so to speak, with conscious forgiveness.
While I’m more than happy to get your liver qi moving with an acupuncture treatment or herbal formula, the free treatment you can do for yourself is simply taking time to move your body! I’m talking dancing, long walks and runs, a vinyasa yoga class, swimming, and whatever other engaging, active movement makes you feel alive.
Deep breaths into your belly, with the exhale longer than the inhale to reset your nervous system. Quick pranayama breathing or fire breathing to strongly raise and move your qi. Breathwork sessions, either alone at home, in groups, or in a private session. I don’t care what style you do as long as you are consciously breathing, to detoxify, cleanse, and de-stress all the layers of your system.
Cleanse your space
Spring cleaning is a thing for a reason; get all that stuff you don’t need anymore outta your apartment already! Someone else will treasure it, and you will have room to breathe and move and expand into with the new creative ideas that you’re becoming aware of and running with this spring. Don’t forget to refresh all the nooks and crannies, including your kitchen pantry, the closets, and even the clutter in your computer and phone. As you're cleaning, use palo santo or sage to help clear the stagnation out of your space.
Freshen your diet
Give your liver a break by cutting back on sugar, fried foods, alcohol, processed stuff, blah blah blah you’ve heard this all before. Then/also, wake up your liver and digestive system with green, sour, bitter, and/or pungent foods : leafy greens (dandelion, kale, collards), lemon water each morning, citrus fruits, burdock, onions, garlic, ginger, and fennel.
Allow creativity to flourish
It’s likely you’re waking up from your winter intellectual and creative slumber with some fresh perspectives. Even if you don’t know where, exactly, your new ideas are headed, this is the time of year to embrace the quick growth and expansion to happen. The Wood element is in charge of our vision and ability to see and plan for the path ahead, so take advantage of this seasonal energy in relation to your inspiration and ideas.