The Seasons Are Changing?
How Springtime’s Arrival Affects Your Health
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) looks at health and illness—indeed, all life issues—through a special lens. It’s a point of view (POV) that’s based on timeless, unchanging natural law. Thousands of years ago, TCM sages and practitioners understood and practiced what has only been rediscovered in the last hundred years in modern physics: everything is about energy—everything IS energy—and this level of reality impacts the physical world we see, including our own bodies. It’s a view that has enormous implications for achieving health and true wellness, and treating health issues.
Winter is drawing to a close, but with all the cold and snow, it sure doesn’t seem like it. Have you been feeling like you’re moving in two directions at the same time? Do you want to get up off the couch and yet feel like hibernating to avoid the cold? What’s going on here? Let’s look more closely at this phenomenon. We’ll start with the picture of daffodils in snow.
When winter arrives, nature enters a process of withdrawal. It’s easy to see everywhere: sap—the vital fluid of the tree—begins to descend, and the trees lose their leaves; birds fly south; the ground hardens and water freezes. Cold slows everything down. This occurs in nature and it also happens within our bodies. It’s natural law. Everything in nature enters a period of dormancy. Without this period of rest, there could never be enough energy to produce an emergence of growth in spring. Believe it or not, this phenomenon occurs in our bodies as well! We must rest in winter so our energy can emerge healthy and strong in spring.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but true spring occurs in the midst of what we in the West consider winter. Our picture illustrates this perfectly. There’s snow on the ground—so the temperature outside is definitely cold—yet a daffodil has already bloomed! This means a certain energy has already pushed upward and outward through the hardened winter soil to create the colorful form of the flower. This is the true energy of springtime. If you follow the lunar calendar, as Asian cultures do (and have done for millennia), spring arrives with the lunar New Year, which generally falls sometime between the end of January and mid-February. That’s what is expressed in the photograph. So within you as well, there is an energy moving up and outward, while the external temperature makes you want to head for shelter and hide. Ultimately, the climate will change in line with the incoming seasonal energy.
TCM believes the human body is a microcosm reflecting the macrocosm of the universe. The saying, “As above, so below” mirrors this insight. Your body must follow Universal or natural law as well as its own internal individual order or laws. Each season has its own Qi, or energy, and this seasonal Qi allows different things to change. Natural law tells us that different seasonal energies are related to different internal organs. (These relationships or connections, and their infinite correspondences, are mapped out in TCM’s Five Element theory.) It’s important to know that seasonal energies greatly influence their related organ’s function.
Now, spring! The Liver is the organ related to this particular seasonal energy. As we’ve seen, this energy moves upward and outward. This means that just as the energy of the growing daffodil pushes upward and outward through the ground, so too does Liver Qi in your body. If our Liver Qi is unbalanced, this movement can be reflected in what we feel in our bodies as springtime arrives. Our bodies are always communicating to us what’s going on deep inside. Our bodies always reflect the quality of our own internal energy. The real question is this: Are we aware and can we decode those messages?
Here are some common Liver-related symptoms, which are really the “effects” of imbalances deep within:
- If Liver Qi rises too strongly, you can experience headaches at the top of your head, where an internal branch of the Liver meridian (energy pathway) runs.
- The same upward current of Liver Qi can also cause elevated blood pressure, if it rises too forcefully.
- Emotional swings or a feeling of irritation, anger and bad moods can have their source in unbalanced Liver Qi. The Liver is responsible for maintaining the smooth, unimpeded flow of Qi and blood, yet it also has the task of maintaining the smooth flow of our emotions. Natural law tells us that each organ has an associated emotion: anger, frustration and a stressed-out feeling relate to the Liver. So if this organ is unbalanced, you’ll definitely have a tough time managing your emotions.
- Tendon problems can also be experienced if Liver Qi is unbalanced. The health of the Liver greatly impacts the health of the tendons, so it’s a mutual, interconnected relationship.
- Because the eyes are the “opening” of the Liver, according to natural law, eye issues can arise if the Liver’s function is compromised in any way. Blurry vision, floaters, dry or itchy eyes, or a change in your vision can then result.
- Digestive issues like indigestion, bloating and burping can occur, especially in springtime. The Liver has a very close relationship with the Stomach: it provides unconditional support for the Stomach and its partner organ, the Spleen. So if the Liver’s energy is too strong, it can impact the Stomach and the process of digestion.
Read here for practical self-care tips, dietary modifications, and acupressure to strengthen your Liver if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
The great beauty and depth of TCM is that it is rooted in natural law. This is what makes it such a profound and profoundly effective medical paradigm. All TCM treatment seeks to understand and treat the root cause of any health issue. And it teaches the individual about natural law and how to live a lifestyle that prevents illness and creates abundant health.
Interested in Qigong and eating for your Liver to create true Liver health? Attend our Liver Detox class in New Jersey; click here to register for our March Liver Cleanse workshop today!