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