Look after your health in spring. In short:
- you can go to bed a bit later than in winter
- get up early and do some light exercise
- hang loose!
- start new projects, try to lose some bad routines or fixations
- shout or sing!
- avoid the wind
- eat more mint, sweet rice, mushrooms, peas, sunflower seeds, and pine-nuts
The three months of spring,
they denote effusion and spreading.
Heaven and earth together generate life;
the myriad beings flourish.
Go to rest late at night and rise early.
Move through the courtyard with long strides.
Dishevel the hair and relax the physical appearance,
thereby cause the mind [to orient itself on] life.
Give life and do not kill.
Give and do not take.
Reward and do not punish. – Huang Di Nei Jing trans. P. Unschuld
Spring is the season of birth and renewal, so this is a good time to initiate new projects. Also a good time to part from old habits. We should go to bed late*, and get up early and do some light exercise to expose ourselves to ‘the fresh, invigorating energy’.
Spring is associated with the Liver organ-meridian system, which is damaged by excessive emotion, and physically it is associated with the tendons. In Spring we should ‘stay loose’, both mentally and physically. It’d be a good time to start yoga or tai chi practice. It would also be a good time to look after conditions that may be related to the Liver – migraines, tension, stress and tendon problems. Generally Spring is also associated with diseases of the head and neck, and again it is a good time to get these treated. Peppermint tea can help with mild headaches when the Liver qi is blocked by stress.
The eyes are associated with the Liver. A tea made from chrysanthemum flowers and gou ji berries can help with tired, itchy, or dry eyes. But don’t go gorging on gou ji berries if your digestion is a bit weak.
The Liver replenishes the blood or xue. Going to bed early helps this, as it is done most effectively if we are asleep between 10 and 12pm. Staring at a screen at this time is not thought to be a good idea. Looking after our Liver Blood will allow us to party a bit more in summer.
Finally Spring is the windy season. Wind exposure can damage the Liver – it may even cause diarrhoea in summer. So while it’s tempting to throw off the winter woolies and get out in the sun in spring, try to avoid too much exposure to the wind.
Because Liver energy is so strong in spring it does not need supplementing, instead we should eat foods that moderate this energy, and dispel the wind that it may engender. In the beginning of spring eat more cabbage, sweet potato, carrot and beetroot. As it gets warmer eat more mint, sweet rice, mushrooms, peas, sunflower seeds, and pine-nuts. Also moderately use aromatic spices and foods such as oregano, rosemary, and bay leaf. A small target audience here, don’t eat too much liver. As it strongly supplements Liver energy it is inappropriate for most people in spring
How does local spring compare to that of Northern China?
While traditionally Chinese called February 3 the Beginning of Spring, and this equates to August 7 in the southern hemisphere, this really marked only the end of winter’s coldest weather, and marked the beginning of Early Spring 寅 yin. There was also Mid Spring 卯mao, and Late Spring 辰chen. The later parts of spring were associated with warmer days interchanging with rain and thunderstorms.
South-West Australia’s indigenous Nyoongar described a first spring from August to September when flowers and new-born animals start to appear; and a second spring from October to November with an explosion of flowers, encounters with snakes and reptiles coming out of hibernation, birdsong, and longer dry periods. Grass-tree flowers were a mark of the beginning of second spring.
The first picture is an Australian native ‘bottle-brush’. They’re everywhere round my bit of town.
For a change, the season of spring in the Middle Kingdom that our seasonal health invocations are based on, pretty well matches South-West Australia.
* Ancient Chinese would have going to bed at sunset as early. Going to bed late would be after sunset, rather than staying up to the small hours.