Chapter 2 of the Suwen in the Huangdi Neijing, which is one of the oldest books about classical Chinese medicine, gives us some valuable insights for the most harmonious actions we can have in the spring time. According to the Neijing, when human beings act in accordance with the natural rhythms of heaven and earth and the cyclical changes of the seasons, there will be optimal health and disease prevention.
"The three months of spring are called 'emerge and display'. Within heaven and earth, all things begin their growth and the ten thousand things emerge to reveal their glory. Sleep when the night falls and arise early in the morning. Stroll around the courtyard with broad, easy steps, and loosen the hair to revive the form of the body. Align the will with the growth of what is new and refrain from killing. Be yielding in your nature, do not force your way. Admire the achievements of the world and do not punish. Nourish life so as to act in accord with the qi of spring. Going against these principles will harm the liver. In summer, there will be illness brought by cold (with improper conduct in the spring). The ability to receive what is maturing (in summer) will be diminished."
- Go with the flow of the spring! This is a great time of year to start any type of new project, like fruit and vegetable gardens, new businesses, cleaning out the garage, and new hobbies that promote your inner creativity and expression, to name a few.
- Sleep in accordance with nature. Go to bed after the sky goes dark, and wake with the rise of the morning sun. The early morning has the most yang energy, and spring is the best time of year to take advantage of this. Getting adequate sleep is always ideal for good health.
- Get moving! We are often over fed and under exercised in the winter months, when it is more natural to hibernate and conserve our energy. Use the energy of the spring to get moving again, and 'let your hair down'. Wake up a little early each morning, and start your day with some light exercise, such as walking, yoga, taiji, or qigong, or whatever activity you prefer to get your qi moving. Stretching exercises are particularly beneficial this time of year, considering that the tendon system is associated with the liver/wood energy of the body, which correlates with spring in nature.
- Be mellow. Try to not be hostile or overly angry during the spring. This killing or punishing energy, which is associated with the fall season, is in direct opposition with the energy of the spring, and can cause your qi to become out of balance.
- Nourish your body and eat well. Always try to eat in accordance with the seasons, as best as you are able to. Spring time meals should be less heavy and full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean (humanely raised) meats. Greens and sprouts are especially beneficial this time of year. Visit your local farmers market and see what delicious spring treats they have available for you. Don't know where your local farmer's market is? Check out the Eat Well Guide to find out!!
- Get a seasonal 'tune up'. Acupuncture will help get your liver qi moving! Whether you are having any obvious symptoms or not, it is a great idea to get acupuncture seasonally to help keep your body in balance and to prevent minor imbalances from becoming more serious in the future if they go untreated. Traditionally, Chinese medicine was used in this way as a preventative medicine.
- Look for signs of spring stagnation. The following symptoms indicate that you are suffering from stagnation of your liver qi, and are not flowing with the energy of the spring: congestion in nasal passageways and lungs, laziness, fatigue in the mornings, overeating, stuck in the same old routines and bad habits, addiction and reliance on drugs, including caffeine, restless sleep, mental or physical constipation, and headaches. These are some of the signs that acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be of great benefit to you this time of year.
- Admire the beauty of life and the world around you.
What are you all doing to live in accordance with the spring? Stay tuned for my next blog post about spring cleansing for the body!