Lao Tzu, China’s founding Taoist philosopher wrote:
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” (c.605 BC)
It’s been a long winter, colder than many of us expected and challenged by a nervous questioning of what we individually and collectively value and stand for. In Chinese Medicine, winter is the time we withdraw from the world and reside in a deeper sense of self. It is a time when we enter our personal darkness. The season is ruled by the Kidneys and the water element that welcomes us back into its amniotic fluid. Returning to this deepest part of self, we may come into confrontation with how comfortable we actually are in that space of confinement, solitude and quiet. We nestle in and attempt to create comfort. The attempt in and of itself is an act of self-preservation and regeneration.
Now, as the rain has sunken deep into the soil to nourish the seeds that laid dormant, as cold gradually gives way to warmth, the Tiger awakens. The Tiger represents the Wood element, the Gall Bladder and Liver; the spark of ferocious life that can no longer contain itself and has the courage and will to sprout. The Liver and Gall Bladder rule over our sinews and create the impulse to move, run, stretch and twist our bodies out of winter’s stagnating comforts. Wood seeks growth, expression and change. It is the element of self-transformation. Whatever that means in your life, now is the opportunity to use Spring’s impulsive surge to act on your goals and new year’s resolutions.
It takes new perspectives and flexibility (Gallbladder) to create change. For change to last however, vision and planning (Liver) are necessary. To support this process, Spring is the best time to detox physically and mentally, to exercise and stretch regularly, to spend time in the woods and begin to eat lighter foods (plenty of greens, sprouts and aromatic foods such as citruses, vinegars and bitters, less sugar, less fried food, less fats).
Remember, that although Spring is the time for self-transformation, trees do not grow in isolation. Find your forest, find the people that seek similar growth and support each other through your process. Let go of the old and make room for the new.
Wishing you all strength, courage and growth in this Spring Season!
Naike Swai, L.Ac & The North Portland Wellness Center Team
Join the Wellness Center for a free Ear Seed Treatment every second Wednesday of the month from 12:45-1:30 through June 14th! This New monthly Walk Williams event kicks of Feb. 8th and continues the second Wednesday of every month. From 5-9 pm, Walk Williams and explore the Williams District. Discover one-of-a-kind Williams District deals from unique businesses. Follow the lighted balloons in the evening to old favorites and brand new hot spots. Join your neighbors for a social night out. Find all your needs in Williams District – food + drink, shopping, recreation, medical and services. Gather stamps at each participating business to be entered in to win gift certificates from area businesses. See the link below for a complete list of participating businesses.
As we reflect on this last couple of weeks, it’s hard not to react – to tighten, to contract with fear and disappointment. Given the uncertainty there are many questions about how the future will unfold.
Although our fear tends to make us reactive and inflames a desire to control our environments, we must make this an opportunity to go deep within and find our strength, our power, our voices.
Out of the darkness comes the light.
Through this, let’s remember to breathe deeply. Meditate. Stay grounded. Turn the music up loud and dance with our loved ones. We must strengthen and deepen our roots. Stand strong in our beliefs. Be kind to others. Be willing to look at our own internalized ‘isms’ and ‘phobias’. Let’s make an effort meet our neighbors. Do something kind for another person today. Let’s all deepen our involvement in our communities. Let’s gather together and make a stronger commitment to take care of ourselves, our families and our communities.
Annabelle Snow and Lili Scott, co-owners
and the entire staff at North Portland Wellness Center
By: Lili Scott
As we transition into the season of shorter, colder days, it’s a wonderful time to consider our relationship with gratitude, and to be grateful for the gifts in our lives.
In Chinese Medicine, our Qi is said to follow our intention or mental energy. Different mental and emotional patterns do different things to our energy: overthinking and worry knot the qi; anger makes it rise up, fear sinks it, sadness dissolves it and so on.
It is my experience that gratitude provides a kind of gentle buoyancy and softening to life – I’ve used it to shift out of many less desirable mental/ emotional states. Of course the so called ‘negative emotions’ are part of life and it’s important that they be fully felt, digested and integrated. But when any mental/ emotional state becomes excessive, or limits our ability to experience anything else, it’s time for an intervention. And gratitude is a great one.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life, it turns what we have into enough and more. It turns problems into gifts, confusion to clarity, chaos into order, failures into successes and the unexpected into perfect timing. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
My practice, evergreens, the ocean, sunshine, rain, a strong, healthy body, a roof over my head, my amazing patients, sight, music to listen to…these are just some of the many things I am grateful for.
In the months to come may you find peace, balance and gratitude!