Can you believe we’re almost at the end of Spring? With last Summer being sooooo long, we kind of bypassed Autumn and only dipped our toes into a very mild Winter. If your energy (and mood) been yo-yo-ing over the last few weeks, let me explain what’s happening, from a Chinese medicine point of view…
For the last eight weeks, we’ve been bouncing around in weather from all four seasons: cold, rain, snow, sun, floods, hail – you name it we’ve had it – all with fluctuating temperatures to match.
I’m telling you this, not (just) because I’m Kwinglish – Kiwis and Poms do seem to talk about the weather a great deal – but because from a Chinese medicine point of view – we’re all directly affected by the yang cycle of Spring. Trees that were in hibernation are now starting to bud, tiny baby lambs can be spotted on hillsides beginning their fluffy metamorphosis into full grown sheep, Commonsense Organics are selling three seedlings for $10 and every gym or fitness place is offering some kind of Summer countdown thingie. Yip, all the signs are saying Spring is definitely here.
However, normally, there’s more of a rhythm to Spring.
A gradual build from the depths of winter’s chill progressing into milder days and less bitter nights. Then finally, the heat of the sun lingers a little more each day. (Though just in case we get too cosy with all this warming up, Wellington likes to chuck us all a few Southerlies or Northerlies to keep us on our toes – whipping us along into warmer climes).
In Chinese medical thought, our bodies change in exactly the same way as Spring. Energy that has been pooling in our organs during Winter now starts to move up and out towards our skin. With this rise in energy, we start to look for new opportunities, change old routines. We want to move out of hibernation and into activity. With the change in temperature, so our own body temperature warms and we’ll be naturally drawn to eat lighter foods, wear lighter clothes, even think lighter thoughts!
However, this nice steady transition hasn’t happened this year.
With our ‘all over the place’ Spring days, our bodies are ‘all over the place’ too. If we extrapolate that our bodies change in the same ways as the season we’re in, then it makes sense that we have some kind of internal orchestrator or barometer that coordinates these seasonal changes.
And we do. You may have heard me say it before, but the organ that corresponds with Spring is the Liver. Its role in the body is just like a project manager – it creates no resources of its own, but its job is to manage everyone else’s (bad luck, Liver).
Chapter 8 of The Su Wen (one of the bibles of Chinese medicine) describes the Liver like so:
“The Liver holds the office of general of the armed forces. Assessment of circumstances and conception of plans stems from it.”
Just like an army general, the Liver ensures its team activities run smoothly. It checks our body (aka the team) has everything it needs so daily cycles remain smooth. When the Liver is operating well, you’ll easily wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and be able to wind down from our day, ready for a good night’s rest.
The Liver does this, like a good project manager, by encouraging moderate behaviour, modest thinking and filtering out obstructions that may imbalance us. Correspondingly the Liver is a big fan of regularity, routine, pattern – because these keep our bodies in equilibrium.
If we’re a bit out of balance, it’s the Liver’s job to mop up the problem and get us back on track. Say we had a bit of a boozy Friday, well Saturday morning’s gonna be a busy time for our Liver. When this happens occasionally, no biggie, the Liver can get the job done and move on. But when we hit rinse and repeat by going down the pub too often, the Liver gets worn out, as well as pretty clogged up with all the debris that comes with cleaning up. The Liver is no longer able stick to the original plan of keeping us even and balanced, because it’s spending all its time mopping up the mess.
This is why our bouncy Spring has been affecting us all so much. With the weather continually changing, our bodies have been rapidly yo-yo-ing. Our Liver then spends all its time coordinating the body’s resources to create a stable body environment. This means other tasks in the body do not get done as well. So a hangover may feel waaaaaaaay worse than it did in Winter months. Or the fact that you ate that Danish instead of roasted veggies for lunch may make you feel gassy, bloated and an incy-weency bit grumpy.
So what to do? We can’t change the weather (well maybe we could with some climate change considerations, but that’s a different blog post). Here are my top 5 tips to put you (and your Liver) back on track…
1. EAT LESS
Eat a little less. Make breakfast your big meal of the day, make lunch your second biggest and make dinner a snack. This frees the liver up by allowing it to mop up when we have the most energy (in the morning) rather than when we have the least (in the evening).
2. FIND A RHYTHM, IF YOU CAN’T FIND A ROUTINE
We all have busy lives and it can be tricky to stick to a routine. So if it proves too difficult to do the same thing at the same time everyday, do the same things whenever you can, each day.
3. Do a wee detox
Supporting and clearing out your Liver, sets you up for an easygoing Summer. A three to four day detox is an excellent way to kick off this process. Use Martin and Pleasance’s Fresh Start kit to give your body the right tools to cleanse itself.
4. Twist it out
When you twist your torso, you twist your liver. You literally wring it out. Wringing out the liver can relieve digestive stuffiness, bloating, even a headache sitting in the temples. If you do just one twist, do Bharadvaja’s Twist. If you can do two, add in Revolved Side Angle Pose, because it stretches and twists the Liver – yummy 🙂
5. If you feel your energy rise into anger
When we get frustrated or angry, we may experience a sensation of something hot travelling up from the mid body to the head. That perception is very accurate: the Liver sits under the diaphragm and when it gets overstimulated, it overheats. Because heat rises, we often feel this updraft, which is the body’s attempt to cool us down. If you’ve reached such a boiling point, you’ve probably had a full rant or rage already! In these circumstances, the best thing to do is use your breath to release the remaining heat. Try syncing your breathing to this wee animation.