Living in balance: 10 tips to create vitality in spring.
Have you been feeling that shift – that slight restlessness, that beginnings of wanting to make more plans, to create some sort of change, to unfurl and grow like the plants we see around us.
Spring in the Traditional Chinese and East Asian Model
The TCEAM model of life puts that down to the beginnings of Spring energy, associated to the element of Wood.
We are in a state of transition from the Yin, inward energies of winter, heading towards the Yang, the expansive, outward energies of summer.
It is a time of opening, of energetic expansion from the centre of us to our extremities.
This winter, with all I have learned from my training I have focused this winter to properly nourish myself, to rest A LOT, to eat well for the season (minimal raw, cold foods, eaten as seasonally as I can). I have taken the time to reflect, to meditate, to move gently, to journal (a wee bit!) and to organise myself more (you do NOT want to see the filing ‘system’ I have on my laptop!), and I feel ready to embrace this expansive energy, to emerge once again, like the daffodils..
Us acupuncturist have a wee ‘bible’ type of book called the Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen:
translated as the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. It looks to be a small book, and I’ll be honest and say I read it as part of my first year of uni and then pretty much forgot about it, until last year when I was reminded of its powerhouse of information and advice by Alex Jacobs (in the Yang Sheng course I did last year). I’ve also recently discovered another absolute powerhouse of a therapist is doing a deep drive training into it.. so it’s a book Ive picked up again! I believe the current understanding is that it is a compendium of all the knowledge gathered over hundreds of years (if not thousands) on how the Daoist medics saw the world and our place in it, commissioned by the Yellow Emperor (the Huang Di).
Huang Di said “the three months of the spring season bring about the revitalisation of all things in nature. It is the time of birth. This is when heaven and earth are reborn. During this season it is advisable to retire early. Arise early also and go walking in order to absorb the fresh, invigorating energy. Since this is the season in which the universal energy begins anew and rejuvenate, one should attempt to correspond to it directly by being open and unsuppressed, both physically and emotionally.”
“on the physical level it is good to exercise more frequently and wear loose-fitting clothing. This is the time to do stretching exercises to loosen up the tendons and muscles. Emotionally, it is good to develop equanimity. This is because spring is the season of the liver and indulgence in anger frustration, depression, sadness or any excess emotion can injure the liver. Furthermore, violating the natural order off spring will cause cold disease, illness inflicted by atmospheric cold, during summer.”
These two short paragraphs describe some very simple ways to ensure you enjoy the spring and prepare your body for the summer which requires a strength of qi to thrive in the Fire energy of the summer.
The element of Spring: Wood
Wood is ultimately about growth – humans absolutely have a very noticeable history of constant reinvention, of being adaptable, we are one of very few creatures on this earth that make changes to their environment to make life easier – having a home, farming, let alone all the massive advances in this digital, information age!
Spring is a time of huge transitions in terms of weather, with the angle of the sun on the Earth, it create more warmth, rising from the ground, but causes more wind to build, creating changeable weather. This requires us to be more changeable and flexible.
In addition to taking gentle strolls and rise early and early to bed.. I’d recommend these top 10 tips
10 tips to create vitality in spring
Wearing layers: the weather is super changeable in this season – take a light scarf out with you to keep your neck protected – I see a LOT of sore necks and shoulders and even into headaches in the Spring – (we tense when we are cold, and with it being so changeable and windy during this season we need to stop that tension building)
Create a gentle regular movement like yoga, tai chi/qi gong, swimming is also a great option.
Drink warming fluids: ginger tea is one of my favs, or hot water with lemon
Take time to rest: give yourself permission to take breaks, to pause throughout the day: doesn’t have to be anything major – even just a couple of minutes of sitting quietly.
Take time to set goals and create a plan to very slowly and flexibly work towards them. Decide what you want to grow into this year, consider what the next ‘level up’ will be.. and then create the plan to make that happen – e.g. next level you is less stiff then start with moving for just 5 minutes a day, for the 1st week, then make it 6 minutes, then 7 – moving up every one to two weeks in terms of length and intensity.
Flavour your foods with gentle spiciness eg spring onions, leaks, garlic (assuming your not allergic to the nightshade family of course!)
Eat more congee to keep your energy strong as we emerge from winter - especially important if you are prone to infections or your lacking in energy – add ginger and sweet potato for warmth, sweetness and nourishment.
Add some sprouting foods – as it corresponds to the season 😊
Roasted Brussel Sprouts (thanks Alex Jacobs for the recipe!)
Oil and Sat Brussel Sprouts
Add garlic and/or black pepper for warmth and spiciness
Heat at 200c for 20-30 minutes
9. Engender the equanimity of your feelings this is a great exercise. I call it the silent scream and find it a great way to build up and release those feelings and their physical manifestations, a great way to release that energy.
10. Open mindset..
Nurturing a mindset of open curiosity can hugely help to nurture the energies of the spring. Pay attention to your responses to something new to you or something that out of your norm, do you instantly say NO, or dismiss or ridicule that thing? That’s a closed mindset – we all have to some degree or other. I’m not suggesting you adopt the Yes man mentality, but rather than poo poo something as rubbish, try to say ‘oh that sounds interesting’ and perhaps even it explore it some more. Having that open curiosity, rather than judgement will help you embrace this rapidly changing society in which we live.
Spring is a glorious time of year, one in which we can open up to the world again, reconnect with what is important to us and drive ourselves and others forward, improving your life and that of those around you.
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