Hello Spring! Sage Advice for Spring Renewal
by Suzanne E. Sky, MTOM, Life Resilience Coach
Even though the nights are still below freezing and the days have a damp chill in the air, I know spring is around the corner when I wake to see the pink blossoms abundantly gracing my flowering plum outside my window; the brown branches and deep pink flowers standing out against the clear blue sky.
Soon the birch and maple tree leaves will slowly unfurl. I eagerly await the return of their leaves and then, the abundance of flowers not to mention warmer days.
Now, as I’m relishing my warming morning tea, hoping for a temperature gain of a few degrees before heading out for a walk with my dog Ginger, I ponder the ancient wisdom of the Chinese philosopher sages that has guided me through many seasons. As a Chinese medicine practitioner, I shared this wisdom with my clients and in courses on Living in Harmony with the Seasons, and over the decades, it became part of me and the rhythm of my life.
Spring, of course, is a time of rebirth and revitalization, a time of opening and unfolding on all levels. Those of us who are gardeners eagerly watch and anticipate for the time to plant our seeds and start the new season’s growing cycle. Spring is my favorite season because every day brings new colorful flowers and green life appearing like a constant stream of surprises and gifts. An old Chinese proverb teaches us to keep a green branch in our heart and a singing bird will come. As we attune to our spiritual nature, we cultivate and tend our spirit with loving awareness. Through all the stories and dramas of life, we keep our hearts green, growing, and flowering.
The ancient Chinese lived in harmony with the seasons thus preserving their well-being. Quiesence in winter restores our energy, preparing us for the activity of spring.
Nourishing Our Well-Being
To nourish our well-being and live in harmony within ourselves and in the natural world, Taoist sages offer specific advice for each season. For early spring, we are advised to still retire early, as we did in the dark winter months. Instead of sleeping longer, as advised for winter, in spring we arise earlier; though naturally with the sun which is rising earlier.
In spring, the energy begins to rise and flow again after winter's rest. This is a great time for walking outside to move our energy (qi), breathe the fresh air to clear our lungs, get our circulation going, and absorb spring’s fresh invigorating energy. It’s a season to wear loose-fitting flowing clothes, allow our hair to flow loose, and do more stretching, Tai Qi and Qi Gong to loosen up our tendons and muscles and move our Qi through the meridians and organs of the body.
Just as seeds burst forth from the deep earth in spring, so our energy begins to flow more outwards from deep in the body. Movement, being outside, and beginning to include lighter foods, with more steamed vegetables helps clear out the accumulations of winter and make way for the new spring energy. Since the temperature is still fluctuating with cool weather, Chinese sage advice is to continue to eat warming cooked foods. It’s not time yet for cold salads or juices that will chill our system. Years ago, when I lived on the land, this was the time of year when leeks and asparagus abounded; these are great spring foods as are steamed beets, onions, kichari soup, radishes, and all the cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower and broccoli.
Spring is correlated with the Wood element, the color green, the liver energy, and the East. Green growing hollow bamboo, another symbol of spring, symbolizes resilience – flexibility and the ability to grow, adapt, and bend even with the winds of change. The usefulness of bamboo is said to be it’s emptiness (it’s hollow inside), as bamboo is used to make containers. Our wise ancestors recommend we maintain our equanamity and easy going nature as an antidote to the irritability that can arise in spring or when we’re out of balance. Cultivating benevolence, a quality of kindness, ripples out into the world and supports our collective well-being and resilience.
From my heart to yours, Suzanne Sky - Life Resilience Coach
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