I am currently re-reading the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine translated by one of my teachers, Dr. Maoshing Ni. In the preface he describes what he thinks is the essence of this, one of the oldest and most important classics of Chinese Medicine:
“Health and well-being can be achieved only by remaining centered in spirit, guarding against the squandering of energy, promoting the constant flow of qi and blood, maintaining harmonious balance of yin and yang, adapting to the changing seasonal and yearly macrocosmic influences, and nourishing one’s self preventively. This is the way to a long and happy life.”
With the beginning of Spring, I’d like to share with you some of the ways that this classic suggests you can better adapt to the new season.
Go to bed early
Spring is all about revitalization and new energy. Though it is not as apparent in Southern California, you can see this occur in nature as flowers that have rested through the winter begin to bloom. The best way for a person to gain new vitality is to sleep.
Wake up early and go for a walk
Now that you’ve been revitalized by a little extra sleep, waking up early and going for a walk will refresh you in a new way. The morning air will invigorate you, helping you connect with the energy of Spring, and the walk will move your energy as you move your body.
Exercise and stretch
The energy of Spring corresponds to the muscles, the tendons, and the movement of energy through the body. The best way to do this is to exercise frequently and regularly and to stretch often. (See my blog to find out the best time of day to exercise.)
Wear loose fitting clothing
Staying with the theme of movement, the best way to keep things flowing is to make sure your body is not too confined by wearing loose, comfortable clothing.
Develop mental calm
The energy of Spring corresponds to the emotion of anger. Too much indulgence of anger, frustration, depression, or sadness can lead to disease and dysfunction in the body. (Think of the man with hypertension whose blood pressure rises every time he gets mad. He is at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. This is an example of how emotions and physical disease are related.) Thus, it is very important to develop mental calm and composure, even in times of stress, especially in the Spring.
Spring is all about rebirth and beginning anew. Let go of some of the ways in which you suppress yourself and begin to express yourself in new ways. This may be through art, communication, emotions, or new forms of exercise.
As an acupuncturist, I always strive be more in alignment with a natural way of living. However some of these ideas, as easy as they may sound, do not come naturally to me. Therefore, I plan to do an affirmation every morning to keep these ideas in the forefront of my mind so I can begin working toward an even healthier life:
“This Spring I retire early to revitalize my body, mind, and spirit.
This Spring I arise early and go for a walk to absorb the invigorating energy of the morning.
This Spring I exercise frequently and stretch my body so my energy flows freely.
This Spring I wear loose fitting clothing so I am no longer constricted.
This Spring I develop mental calm and maintain mental evenness, even in times of stress.
This Spring I am more myself and I express myself in new and refreshing ways.
This Spring I am living a happier and healthier life.”