While most people I know celebrated the New Year on January 1st, I have come to celebrate with the Chinese New Year. In their culture the New Year signifies the start of spring, which resonates more with me than starting something new in the dead of winter.
In my experience the Lunar New Year is a better time to make resolutions than the January 1st New Year that we celebrate. With the Lunar New Year, we have the support of nature to bolster clarity of vision and righteous action which are resonant with the spring energy. Although many people consider the start of spring to occur at the Spring Equinox, this cosmological alignment signifies the peak of spring.
Keep in mind that each season must follow the previous season; indeed, if the icy stillness and deep slumber of winter had not frightened us into filling up our reserves, we would not be able to spring forth into a world of possibility and hope. Seeds that have been buried under frozen ground muster up an enormous amount of energy to burst open and seek out fresh air. Instinctively they turn their faces towards the sun.
Ever since the Winter Solstice, we have been moving towards longer and lighter days, although sometimes it is hard to remember that in the midst of freezing temps. However, now that we are standing squarely in the spring season, the yang energy will continue to mount until the Summer Solstice. Welcome to the upswing.
Wood, the element associated with spring, provides clues regarding the vibrational nature of the season. Wood is yang in nature, growing ever-upward, reaching and spreading. The vibration of wood resonates with the color green, the sour taste, the Liver (more yin) and Gallbladder (more yang), the tendons/sinews, the eyes and vision, creativity, flexibility, benevolence and perspective.
Every single flower bud is entitled by the laws of nature to bloom in its own time. The crocuses emerge before the daffodils, which brighten the day before the tulips pop. Similarly, people feel the spring energy rising in them at different times. Ever heard of a late bloomer?
For every type of plant there are certain conditions that must be met for it to thrive. This is the perfect time of year to engage your vision to that end. Get clear about your needs. Set the stage for your unique expression.
What are your goals? What is your purpose? And what steps are necessary to accomplish these? If you have trouble answering any of these questions, there may be an underlying imbalance. Acupuncture can harmonize the body systems as well as the mind and emotions.
From a Chinese medical perspective, the Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy in the body, especially emotions (aka energy in motion). One of the most important lifestyle factors that supports the Liver in spreading the energy evenly is regular exercise. When we move our bodies mindfully, incorporating conscious breath into every nook and cranny, we attend to the health of the Liver, energy, blood and tendons.
Because the blood is stored in the Liver, and cleansed during sleep, it is crucial that we spend enough time in a reclined position for this process to be effective. The blood houses our consciousness. When you sit in a particular position too long and your leg falls asleep, you experience numbness. In other words, your consciousness has withdrawn from that leg because the blood is no longer flowing to it.
Some signs and symptoms of an imbalance of the Liver may include high or low blood pressure, stiffness, spasms, headaches and migraines, insomnia, problems with the eyes, emotional dysregulation and menstrual irregularity.
The condition of the Liver greatly influences the menstrual cycle. Based on the idea that the Liver is largely responsible for cleaning the blood, and the blood houses the consciousness, menstrual symptoms may be indicative of disharmony. Cramps may indicate stagnation of the energy. Clots indicate stagnation of the blood. Perhaps there are some emotions that your consciousness has not processed. Where have you gotten stuck?
The spring energy smacks of possibilities. The calendar rolls out from your feet like a red carpet of opportunities. Utilizing the gifts of vision, creativity and possibility, springtime is an incredibly fertile period for growth. Design the life you desire.
Imagine how eye-opening it would be if you were able to absorb a 360-degree view of your surroundings. Now imagine if the 360-degree view was not limited to the location of your physical body. During sleep we have the opportunity to engage our hun spirit, which is anchored by the Liver and blood, and flies the kite that is our dreams. The hun is the medium through which we access our creativity and understanding of what may be possible.
Let us revisit the Su Wen for an excerpt about the spring season, translated by Paul U. Unschuld and Hermann Tessenow, in collaboration with Zheng Jinsheng:
“The three months of spring, they denote effusion and spreading.
Heaven and earth together generate life;
the myriad beings flourish.
Go to rest late at night and rise early. Move through the courtyard with long strides.
Dishevel the hair and relax the physical appearance,
thereby cause the mind [to orient itself on] life.
Give life and do not kill.
Give and do not take.
Reward and do not punish.
This is correspondence with the qi of spring and
it is the Way to nourish life.
Opposing it harms the liver. In summer, this causes changes to cold, and
there is little to support growth.” (p. 45-46)
In other words, this is a time of growth and movement. Use these months to limber up, slowly at first, so that you and your body will be warmed up for the most playful time of the year (summer). Set good intentions, exercise benevolence and clarity for best results. Water today what you hope to harvest tomorrow.
If you want to see more harmonious flow in the world, find small ways to create harmony wherever you go. If you want the future generations to know the beauty of fresh air and thriving plants, pick up litter, reduce waste, recycle, plant a garden. If you believe in restructuring certain laws or regulations, take action. Spring energy resonates with the virtue of benevolence—giving goodness—and taking action with proper timing.
Benevolence and anger are two sides of the same coin. Anger typically arises when there has been a lack of benevolence. If you feel angry, move through it—literally, if necessary. Take a kickboxing class, go for a run, sweat it out, and while you’re at it, devise a strategy for taking effective action. Sometimes you must be firm in your principles and make a request for change. Other times, it is best to remain flexible. Your discernment is yours alone. There is power in responding (from a place of calm) rather than reacting (from ego or anger). Anger itself is healthy, as long as you do not allow yourself to get stuck in this place. Keep it moving.
Anger and frustration are the same vibration that compel plants to break through concrete to seek the promise of growth. Every obstacle is an opportunity to find another way through. Every notch on a stalk of bamboo signifies a moment of frustration and the motivation to keep reaching towards the sun.
“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”
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