Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Spring is here (almost)
Tonight spring has arrived, and as such we are transitioning from the dormancy of winter (water - Kidneys) into a time marking the renewal of life (wood - Liver). Technically, we are not fully there yet, as the 3 week period of time between seasons is mediated by the earth - Spleen/Stomach. The earth phase helps to assure stability in the midst of such dramatic climactic change. And what does it need to buffer?
The springtime (and Liver) are associated with wind. Not just that which we feel on our bodies, or see evidence of moving the trees. Wind is essentially change. Quick change. Change that the body needs to adapt to, or otherwise fall prey to imbalance and sickness. Wind is said to bring in the "hundreds of diseases." It carries in the common cold with all its variations. Should we be unable to defend against it, we get sick. Internal wind makes us dizzy. Without the stability internally, we cannot adapt to the rapid change and we lose our grounding. We become unsteady, uncertain, unable to find our center.
The earth phase helps to buffer the extreme change/wind between the seasons. Moving from dormancy to life requires stability and centeredness. Being careful of what we eat and our digestion during this time is warranted. Starting to move away from winter-fare towards foods that are more alive. Green. Green is the color of spring/wood/Liver.
Something I wrote for a magazine a few years ago on springtime:
In Chinese medicine, every phase (pair of organ systems) has an associated color and energetic seasonal influence. The wood phase (Liver and Gall Bladder systems) is associated with the springtime and the color green. The spring is a time of rebirth or regeneration. It is a time when the reserves protected during the winter are utilized and activated. The growth of the spring gives us hope and directs us towards the future. As such it provides us with a vision and a purpose; it directs us upwards and onwards to grow in the direction of our goals. There is an active, forceful quality to the spring energy. This forcefulness and strength is not hard or rigid, however; it is flexible to accommodate the uncertainty of life.
The color of the wood element and the springtime is green and/or blue-green. It reflects the blooming of flowers, trees and grass. Diagnostically, one can use color to determine the nature of one’s imbalance. For instance, often the color green will manifest most prominently around the lateral aspect of the eyes, between the eyes or around the mouth when an imbalance in the Liver or Gall Bladder is present.
The climate of the spring is windy -- it can bring about rapid and powerful changes. If one’s body is unable to adjust to such change, imbalance can result causing allergies, the common cold, dizziness, skin disorders and other “wind diseases.”
The sound associated with the wood element is "shouting" or "lack of shout." The shout is attributed to the forceful quality of the spring season and the emotion of anger. "Lack of shout" manifests when the wood element is weakened resulting in a person who feels resigned or defeated or unable to express oneself.
The odor of the wood element is rancid. It is the smell of oil or fat that has spoiled. It may also be associated with the bile and oil of the liver.
The emotion of wood is anger. This anger is typically sudden and forceful. When this emotion is not expressed or when the element is weakened, it may manifest as frustration, passive-aggressive behavior, or an abnormal lack of anger. When one’s Liver and Gall Bladder is out of balance, he/she can be overcontrolling and aggressive. This person may be excessively ordered, planning for every contingency, or completely unable to make or execute plans and decisions.
WOOD ELEMENT ORGANS AND THEIR FUNCTIONS
Liver. The functions ascribed to the Liver are: (1) maintaining the smooth flow Qi-energy; (2) storing and detoxifying the blood; (3) controlling the sinews and tendons; (4) influencing the eyes; (5) influencing the nails; (6) controlling the ethereal soul; (7) internally and externally related to the Gall Bladder; (8) responsible for planning and vision of the future.
Gall Bladder. In Chinese medicine, the Gall Bladder (1) stores and secretes bile; (2) is responsible for decision-making, and judgment; (3) assists the Liver in coursing the Qi.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF THE LIVER AND GALL BLADDER
Physical: hypochondriac pain, red burning eyes, vertex and migraine headaches, hernia pain, stuffiness in chest, feeling something is caught in throat, menstrual cramps and clotting, one-sided symptoms, nail disorders, insomnia, stiff muscles, poor coordination, sciatica (side of leg), lateral ankle or foot pain, dizziness, hypertension.
Emotional/Spiritual: timidity, poor self-esteem, depression, impatience, irritability, intolerance, angry, frustrated and aggressive.