Despite the cold, grey skies in Toronto today, and the ice storm due this weekend, it is spring (it really is!). Days are lengthening and brightening and a local pair of robins has been hard at work building a nest, getting ready to welcome in some little ones. According to traditional Chinese medicine, spring’s arrival means that we humans need to adapt as well.
Like other traditional medicines, TCM teaches that spring is mother nature’s true new year. Spring gives us the opportunity to let go of what we no longer need and open to the possibility of renewed health and vitality.
Spring is an opportunity to clear out stagnation that may have accumulated throughout the dark days of winter.
This could be physical – in the form of sluggish metabolism or an insulating layer of fat that may have served us well in the cold months but is no longer feeling comfortable. It could also take the form of stuck thought patterns and emotions that may need to be brought out into the light.
According to TCM, spring is associated with the Wood element, and with the Liver and Gallbladder organ systems.
Here are some signs that your Wood element and associated organ systems may be out of balance.
- Uneven energy levels – alternating between feeling sluggish or reluctant to move and being driven and unable to slow down
- Muscles and tendons tighter than usual
- More easily frustrated or annoyed
- More frequent and intense headaches
- Disrupted digestion & elimination (possibly even constipation and diarrhea, or alternating between the two)
- Dry, itchy or irritated eyes, or more “floaters” obscuring your vision
- Increased incidence of tremors, tics (such as eye twitches) and even muscle spasms (especially in the upper body)
How can we regain harmony?
Simply put, we can create resilience in our inner ecosystem – so that we can flow with seasonal change rather than resist it. This may mean adjusting what (and when and how) we eat as well as refining our day-to-day routine.
When our Wood energy is balanced internally, we feel the uprising of inner vitality as we let go of winter’s inner-directedness and expand outward and upward. With this inner resilience to support us, we’re able to easily adjust to any changes in weather that mother nature may send our way.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into exactly how to balance your Wood element, check out my previous posts on these topics:
I also want to share with you a “cheat sheet” I developed for my Welcome Spring with Yin Yoga workshop – it’s a short, sweet summary of the key characteristics of the spring season and Wood element from the perspective of Chinese medicine. I’ve included information on how to tell if your Wood element is out of balance, and how to re-create and maintain harmony throughout the season.
What changes, if any, are you noticing in your body, mind and spirit with the advent of spring? Do you have any favourite ways to flow with the season of spring, such as adding greens to your diet or exercising in a different way? You’re welcome to share your thoughts and experiences below.