Spring is here! Sort of! Wait winter. No spring! Flowers! Snow. Warm breeze! Freezing wintery mix.
Transitioning into Spring can be a lot for people. There’s always changes in the weather and the activity, not knowing where the energy is best directed. Things are slow to start, and there’s impatience and a sense of a surge, a rush, a need to get somewhere, grow somewhere, like the little buds on the trees.
There can also be mood swings, anger, and frustration or just plain depression for people with cranky liver chi navigating through all this.
Despite putting lemons in my water each morning, stretching and some seated meditation, crossing some needed things off my to-do list, I find the spring to be one of the more sneaky seasons that can get the best of me if I am not careful and mindful of the spring energy.
My health has historically had cranky issues in the spring, or the ‘Wood Phase’ of five
element acupuncture. I have floaters in my eyes after looking at bright lights, dizziness if I stand up too fast, and occasional migraines.
I know these symptoms occur after a couple days of not sleeping well, not having enough water, not eating proper foods, or going too hard on a night out. As a woman, bleeding on the heavier side every month, menstrual issues also contribute to these signs and symptoms of blood deficiency, or Liver yin deficiency.
So what are some methods for dealing with the Liver, the official in charge of the smooth flow of chi, the storage of blood, the sinews and tendons, clear sight in the eyes, and the overall energy that is rising up in nature and in our bodies?
And not forgetting the Gall Bladder, the yang to the Liver’s yin, in charge of wise decision, proper perspective, and just action? The back and forth decision making, lack of decision making, lack of action, are things found under the realm of Gall Bladder’s ability to carry out the orders of the Liver. The Gall Bladder is the envoy of the General. Who has the plans and the gall (hardy-har) to carry out the fresh plans springing forth for this new cycle?
Here are some things I always recommend to my patients:
I recommend people drink at least two water bottles full of water a day, ideally more. Water moistens the eyes, sinews, and blood for smoother flow of chi. It improves mood, energy, and stamina.
On a whole, people don’t drink enough water. Sugary drinks actually overwork the Liver, messing up our metabolism and making us more dehydrated. Simple, yummy water with cucumbers or charcoal powder (so good!), lemon, spirulina for alkalinity, are the best sizzurp to slurp while you kill it in your workaday or weekend mode.
With the weather constantly changing from cold to warm again, contracting and expanding, it’s important to find balance through stretching major muscle groups and tendons around the major articulations of the joints, especially at the groin as the Liver sinew meridian binds there.
Do some lunges with the arms up such as the warrior series in yoga, especially Peaceful Warrior which is sort of a backbend, helping to open up the diaphragm and regulate breathing (for example, if patients come in taking big heaving sighs every so often I know they have some congestion in their Liver constricting in the diaphragm. It’s a sign they have a lot of stress!).
Stretching helps get things moving again. This is not unlike the trees getting their sap from the ground to start growing again. As you see them bend more in the wind you know they are returning to life – just like you after a good stretching session!
If you have a specific area that is in pain, spend ten extra minutes on the floor with a towel, on a foam roller, or on a yoga mat getting into a position that helps stretch this area and make it feel good and alive. Stay away from ice as it’s too contracting and more often yields more pain. Drink water.
Overall take time to stretch before and after your gym session, take a yoga class, get outside and get moving again to start aligning your body with the energy.
MODERATE YOUR VICES:
Because of all the rising chi, and its affects on our mood, our body, and our plans for spring, it’s a great idea to moderate the things that get you off track in your plans.
Excess sugar, overly rich oily/greasy foods, excess alcohol, weed, prescription pain killers and the like need to be reduced or in some cases eliminated. Listen to what your body needs.
It’s not a coincidence that many religions incorporate a fasting or abstinence period during this time of year. You may be feeling more sensitively to these things now as the Liver, in this season, is in charge of metabolizing and moving these things all around the body. Nutritionally, this is especially true for oils and sugars. Have berries, lemons, cilantro, parsley, seeds and nuts, salmon, and things that detox the blood and get you your omega 3s and 6s. If you lose a lot of blood each month, or have some of the descriptions I described of myself above, take an iron supplement with your meal.
The result is that you will be feeling more alert, awake, clear headed and responsive to the ups and downs of spring with the weather, the frustrations of things not going as planned, and its resulting mood swings. I find the mood swings in spring to be brutal and having no rhyme or reason, they just come in like a gust of wind and leave just as quickly, however if the blood is vital, our mood and energy cycles are less erratic and the season can be experienced with more ease.
GO TO BED BY 11PM:
I know this sounds crazy to many. I am a night owl more than a spring chicken myself, and this is not an easy one for me. But it’s a good one to put on this list. The night time is the time the Liver and Gall Bladder store and clean the blood, going to bed by this time can help them do their job more effectively. Do your best to finish eating dinner by 8pm so the digestion has time to deliver the nutrients to the blood, then be horizontal in bed by 11 so these organs can move the blood into the Liver to be stored and cleaned while we sleep. The result for my body has been waking up refreshed and clear, feeling less groggy and heavy. In the Chinese medicine clock, the Gall Bladder has its hours between 11 and 1AM and the Liver from 1-3AM.
This is the time of year to take some of your big dreams to seed. This is the year of the Rooster as well, which is about planning properly and giving everything its due process. It may not all be able to happen in one year, but the first part will!
Look at your calendar. What do you want to have finished one month from now, accomplished three months, six months, a year from now?
What are your plans? What decisions need to be made right now so you can plant your spring crops for harvest season in the fall? What needs to go? What can be added?
The Spirit of the Liver official is the hun which governs our imagination and dreams. It leaves us during sleep and goes to a different place where we have dreams and returns in the morning so we remember what we have dreamt. It comprises all of life- whatever can be seen or imagined is by extension real and can be manifested. All of life’s greatest inventions and technologies, all of the things we take for granted in this life like asphalt and potato peelers were once a dream of some individual who made a big impact. Let yourself dream big for your life. Don’t share this with anyone, just store it in your heart and use it as fuel to set things in motion. We all need a dream and a purpose pulling us forward. And it never ends. After it’s one thing, it’s the next thing. What we are in charge of is this, right now. The right decision, the right action, and the right direction (Gall Bladder) to take us freely and directly to our bliss.
That uplifted, invigorated feeling is a hallmark of spring feva’ – that can-do, anything-is-possible, conquer-the-world Springtime High. It’s like the feeling of being wonderfully, happily inebriated at the bar with your friends except even better than that because everything on your to-do list is done, the hangover just-let-me-die-feeling never arrives, and you are ready for what awesome thing will be conquered next in your Dream-life.
I hope you enjoyed reading this! Happy Spring, with the equinox around the corner! Sign up for my newsletter below: