Ahhh, Spring!! Take a deep breath and enjoy the richness of the air, the smells, the growing warmth. But not too deep... The last thing you need is to take in a face full of pollen and incite another barrage of Covid swabs.
But I digress…
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) our body, and as a result our health, is mirrored in nature. As the seasons change, so too do we. If we can observe nature, we can take our cues to maintaining health and abundance.
The energetics of Spring are expansive, upward, and outward moving. We can see this in the growth of plants, shoots emerging, blossoms opening. Spring is a time for birth – of ideas, creativity…lambs.
TCM theory tells us that the season of Spring corresponds with our Wood element (makes sense), which governs our Liver and Gallbladder organs. In TCM our Liver is responsible for the free flow of blood and qi, the storing of blood and the ability to cleanse. If you are not familiar with the term “Qi”, Qi is said to be our life force. It is the vital energy that allows us to live and move.
It is also said that the Liver houses a part of our soul – the Hun. The Hun is the part of our soul that lives on even when we cease to be. When we are in balance the Hun allows us to plan and create, it gives us the means for productive, healthy assertiveness, communication, and expression of our desires.
So, what would it look like if your Wood element were all out of whack? Well, like most things subject to our uniqueness, that will look different for everyone. You may experience allergies (as a struggling liver starts to impact on our other organs), you may experience forms of anger, you may experience feeling emotionally stuck or physical rigidity, you may experience eye conditions, or there may be physical illnesses pertaining to the health of the physical Liver organ.
Regarding women’s health, the liver plays a vital role. A harmonious liver is pivotal for menstrual health and fertility, and nourishing pregnancy and breastfeeding. During menopause, our liver health has a significant impact on mental wellbeing, and it is recognised in Western medicine that women experiencing menopause are at an increased risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Aside from seeking help from health care providers (both Eastern and Western combined if severity of conditions necessitates), you can assist your Liver health through lifestyle means. You can indulge in fresh seasonal vegetables, particularly leafy greens, to support liver health. The Liver is also associated with “sour flavours”, so adding foods like sauerkraut, lemon and good quality vinegar to your diet can be liver-benefitting.
Move! Move your body. Move your body in ways that feel good – run, skip, dance, walk. Just make sure you move. Reconnect with nature. This can be as free-spirited as you see fit. Go bushwalking, grace the beach, walk barefoot on the grass, hug a tree if it floats your boat. Movement and the emergence from our wintery hibernation may seem elusive in our current restricted and locked down circumstances but it also gives us opportunity to ask our bodies how they need us to move and get creative in how we achieve this.
Allow me to run with the segue into the topic of creativity for a moment. Allowing our creativity to flow is another way to allow free movement of our qi and blood. Creativity is whatever you make of it so embrace the freedom to explore what it means for you.
And last, but not least, never underestimate the power of one of our most natural and fundamental bodily functions – the breath. In TCM 5 element theory the lungs (metal element) are said to control our liver (wood element). In moments of feeling stuck or frustration, do not forget to breathe.