The New Energy of Spring

The whole year's work depends on a good start in the Spring.  —Chinese Proverb

Congratulations! You made it through another winter! Now, the warmer temperatures and the longer hours of daylight will be an awesome relief. No more feeling like a hibernating bear cooped up inside your house  you can go outside for lovely walks and appreciate the new life of spring. In the winter, your body is "fu chang",  Chinese for "in storage." In the spring, your body begins to "wake up."

Spring begins on the Equinox, and it represents new beginnings with budding trees and grass turning to green after the icy snow. For the next six months, Yang energy and the sun will influence your life. So, if you feel new energy, it makes absolute sense according to Oriental medicine.

Spring and Chinese Philosophy

The foundation of Chinese philosophy is that human beings are a part of this universe in which we live, and the universe is forever changing. These changes affect our well-being as much as they affect the universe itself. The ancient Chinese discovered that the energies of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth constitute all matter in the universe. Everything contains these five kinds of Qi or energy of these elements. In Oriental medicine, we use the "Theory of the Five Elements" for both diagnosis and treatment principals, and the season of spring is associated with the Wood element.

The Wood element has to do with growing, living entities, such as trees, plants, and human bodies. The Wood element also governs the Liver and Gall Bladder. The Liver has to do with planning and decision-making, so you may feel a new sparkle and vitality in the spring. You may even be inspired to act upon new ideas.

The essence of spring and the Wood element is birth and new beginnings. The Wood element governs your mental clarity and your ability to focus, plan, and make judgments. When a person has a Wood imbalance, it is much too easy to make poor decisions and become disorganized. When the Liver is out of balance, it can direct energy upwards to create headaches, neck and upper back tension, or even rage and depression. That's right  the Liver not only spreads Qi (energy) to your other organs like a distributor, but it is also in charge of the smooth flow of your emotions.

The emotions of anger and frustration are related to the Wood element, and many people don't know how to release their emotions in a safe way. Suppressed emotions can cause serious health problems, and suppressed frustration and anger specifically injures the liver and gall bladder. Did you know that acupuncture works for emotional problems too?

The beauty of Oriental medicine is that it perfectly integrates the mind-body-spirit connection. In fact, did you know there is no distinction between the mind and the body in the Chinese language? In Asian culture, they were always assumed to be connected.

"Your mind transcends limitations." Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Chinese Gables

Spring Cleaning

Author Wayne W. Dyer says that inspiration is about "moving back into spirit." So, spring is an excellent time to take a fresh look at your life and make a new plan. One of my clients came in today and said he had been drinking too much alcohol. He boldly decided that "Today is D-day!" Another client plans to stop suffering from the painful plantar fasciitis that has plagued her for the last six months. Fortunately, acupuncture and Oriental medicine support addiction treatment, pain relief, and much more. They are fantastic modalities to utilize in taking charge of your life and creating new beginnings.

As the weather changes outside, your body changes inside. To adjust to these changes, spring is a great idea to get a "tune up" from your local acupuncturist. This Oriental medicine professional can devise a plan that might include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and dietary recommendations tailored to your conditions and health goals. This will make your body healthier and less susceptible to sickness. After all, Oriental medicine is preventative care. And this time-tested health care system works wonderfully on all levels  physical, mental, and emotional.

Take some time now for the most powerful spring cleaning you can do, which is to de-clutter the mind. Clearing your internal space is just as important as clearing your external space. So, write out a new health or life plan. What habits no longer serve you? What do you wish for in your life? Maybe you want to clean up your diet and lose weight. Maybe you want to quit smoking for good. You may want to strengthen your immune system. Or maybe you want to let go of negative emotions to make room in your life for new possibilities. Let those visions bloom inside you as the spring flowers bloom outside. With the help of your Oriental medicine practitioner, you can absolutely reach your goals!

Steven Sonmore, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac., has over 24 years professional experience in the healing arts, and is a licensed acupuncturist, certified by the NCCAOM, an Oriental bodywork therapist, and herbalist. He has an active practice in Edina, MN.

Reprinted from Qi Journal, Spring 2007