Wisdom for staying healthy & happy during the changing of the seasons!
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the spring energy that has arrived here in the Pacific Northwest by sharing with you all ancient wisdom of traditional medicine and symbol science. What follows is sound guidance for aligning one’s body, mind, and spirit with the changing of seasons in order to strengthen our connection to ourselves, to the Earth, and to the universal energies that are at work all around us. This conscious alignment will facilitate a greater sense of well-being and help to ward off future imbalances in the seasons to come.
Spring is Wood Energy & New Beginnings
Spring is the time of Wood energy on the 5 phase cycle of Chinese medicine. This wood energy represents birth, growth, expansion, vision, and movement.
Awaken with the Sun
Spring corresponds to the dawning of a new day, so awaken with the rising sun, greet the sun with an offering for bringing the light to another turn of the wheel!
Go for a Walk!
We are entering a “yang” time of year – a time for both planning and action. The act of walking meditation or simply walking is symbolic of this time of year. Chinese wisdom advises taking brisk walks with your hair down. Try to walk everyday, even for just 15 minutes. Walk to work or school a couple days a week (if reasonably close). Go for a walk around the neighborhood before breakfast or after dinner, or on your lunch break. Get to the woods, the lakes or even just the park! Get outside and get your energy moving for this is what Spring is all about!
Vision & Intention
The spring brings clarity and vision: set your intentions for the year. How do you envision your life? Make a plan for the year, create goals for the short-term and the long-term. Set milestones to mark your progress. Though autumn is generally considered the time of year to let go of the old and release what is no longer serving, the spring also serves as a time to detoxify. The emphasis in spring is on embracing the new – focusing our energy on what is working and what we want to manifest, rather than on what is not serving us. As we make energetic progressive in the “good”, the “bad” will inevitably fall way because their is no energy to sustain it.
Be Like a Tender Sprout
As the tender sprouts emerge from the ground and the green begins to flush the landscape, it nourishes the soul through the eyes. Spend time in nature, plant a garden and allow the “life force”, the qi of the greening landscape to enter your being and nourish you to your core. Through this natural process, your appetite for food should be lessened, allowing your body to gently cleanse itself. Deep listening to your body and the changes of the season may hint to you to simplify your diet or to do a light detoxification. And just remember, as we detoxify our physical bodies, so too must the emotional body be engaged. Tend to feelings of anger, frustration and impatience as these are symptoms of an “unhappy” liver. These may come as we detoxify through diet or lifestyle or perhaps they will come if we are not attuned to the turning of the season. When these emotions come up acknowledge, honor and thank them. Track what it’s about and take note. Then let them go. Do not indulge in these emotions, especially during the Spring, as it is harmful to the free flowing of qi in the body.
Diet & Herbs
Spring Principle: To detoxify, open and expand, to free flow of energy, pungent foods
Spring Cooking: Cook foods for less time. Stir fries or short steams are good for veggies!
Spring Foods: Eat more foods that are pungent and sweet such as:
basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf, grains, legumes, seeds, starchy vegetables, dandelion greens, onions and garlic.
Raw foods: Increase the amount of live, fresh and raw foods such as sprouts and eat less meat.
Learn how to sprout your own!
Just remember raw and uncooked foods are cool in nature and can weaken the digestion and trigger excessive cleansing reactions when taken in excess. Moderation is key. If you have an already compromised digestive or immune system or have symptoms of cold, even less raw food is recommended.
Congee: This is a rice porridge traditionally eaten throughout China as a breakfast food. Use a crock pot to simmer one part rice to 5-6 parts water. This is a simple and healing meal that is easily digested, strengthening the blood and qi energy as well as the digestive system. It is slightly cooling in nature and therefore helps to gently detoxify, decrease inflammation and other heat symptoms as well as build fluids in the body. It is common to add other ingredients to the congee to attain the healing properties desired including vegetables, other grains, herbs, or meats. Congee is good in the spring to strengthen the Earth element- to ground all of the yang energy. Try adding mung beans, goji berries, honey, basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, beets, carrots, other sweet/starchy roots, spring onions/scallions, garlic, chicken, or substitute chicken broth for water.
Mint tea with honey to cool, detoxify and expand the energy. Mint is invigorating and will help you get out the door for your daily walk.
Part 2 of Spring Time Bliss will talk about the psycho-emotional and archetypal energies connected to the Spring and how we can better access these inner resources for personal growth, healing, and creativity.
Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford
Bellingham Food Bank: Garden Project: Get a Garden!