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If today we have access to tropical fruits in winter and it is possible to have light to work even after dark, it has not always been so. Indeed, our ancestors had learned to live with the different rhythms imposed by the seasons and its changes in light, climate, vegetation, etc. Today, we live more than ever in disconnection with our wild, cyclical nature. Reconnecting with the magic that each season brings and aligning ourselves with them can help us to better adapt, conserve our energy and therefore better use our physical and mental resources for better health. We will focus here on spring, the season par excellence, where hope and light are reborn.
Some notions of traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the theory of Yin and Yang, a principle coming from Taoism. Yin is related to rest, accumulation, cold, a descending and more internalized energy. Yang is related to movement, activity, heat and a more externalized energy. In traditional Chinese medicine, winter is Yin and summer Yang. As for spring, it is the beginning of the yang cycle, the energy has been accumulated during the winter season (Yin) and it is the beginning of the Yang (the energy is rising). This energy corresponds to the creative impulse, the force of life that wants to come out, like a seed that germinates to give way to the shoot in spring after having stored enough energy.
Do not get carried away too quickly...
With spring just beginning and after a long, cold, white winter, it can be tempting to use the new energy that is springing up within us to disperse ourselves into many new projects, basically overusing this rising energy. It is wise to rest completely until we really feel that it is time to move more. Traditional Chinese medicine suggests waiting until you have accumulated enough energy during the winter before spending that energy and dispersing it outward. This does not mean not to do any physical activity but simply to keep soft activities and internalization such as taking baths, going for a massage, staying by the fire reading a good book instead of starting to multiply outings and new projects.
The organ associated with spring in traditional Chinese medicine is the Liver (organ in Chinese medicine). Moreover, spring is the time when the energy of this organ as such is at its peak. For those who wish to start a cure or a therapeutic fast, this is the best time. The body will have more energy for waste elimination. Slowly, when the body begins to feel "heavier", we can gradually start to integrate raw greens into our menus. It is important here to wait until the body asks for it. We have forgotten the wisdom of our bodies to remind us of this connection to our environment. Eating in season makes all the difference in energy, assimilation and digestion. Even if it is possible to eat fresh food during the four seasons, our genes don't always know what to do with a pineapple in the middle of a Quebec winter.
You can choose foods that will support your liver, such as bitter foods that promote the production of bile and its excretion (arugula, raddichio, endives, artichoke, citrus fruits...). These are excellent when taken before a meal, to start the digestive process. Also, it is wise to be careful with food excesses and "warming" energetic foods such as spices, especially cinnamon and cayenne, which are very "hot" and do not go hand in hand with the ardor and rising energy (Yang) of spring. Instead, we should use mild spices and herbs.
This is the time to get out in nature, more than ever. The simple fact of letting our senses awaken to the emerging nature and its rich spring green, has something therapeutic in itself. Also, it is important to start moving more, if the energy is there. Again, let's remember the importance of waiting until you have completed the winter rest and relaxation cycle before starting to train for a marathon. A little running, yoga, and hiking in nature will do the body a world of good to channel and contain the rising energy that comes with spring.
Aligned Activities - Growing a garden
As early as February, if you have a garden, it's time to plan your seeding schedule to anticipate what you want to harvest this year. Indeed, some seedlings will have to be started indoors as early as March/April, depending on what you plant. Think of peppers, tomatoes and broccoli for example. Moreover, this activity is gentle, creative and allows a connection with the living. Making sprouts One of the easiest ways to incorporate more and more greens and freshness into your diet is to make your own sprouts. It takes very little equipment and knowledge. Sprouts are incredibly rich in micro-nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, folate. In general, the nutrients in plants will be multiplied. For example, cabbage shoots contain about 6 times more vitamin C than red cabbage itself.
Spring is the season when all our senses are awake after the winter when we are exposed to far fewer stimuli and distractions. As we remember, spring corresponds to the force of life that wants to emerge, like a shoot that emerges from the ground after a dormant winter. Now, if we have rested sufficiently during the winter, this creative impulse comes in the spring. This is the best time to plan new creative projects.
Sorting, cleaning up
Before planting new seeds, however, we need to clean up, to leave behind those that did not bear fruit in the previous season. This is a beautiful analogy to motivate you to clean up your mind, your life and your environment. A tidy, breathing home may give you the space to create new opportunities and projects.
Allied medicinal plant Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion is one of the plants that can support liver functions and support natural detoxification processes. In fact, it is in the spring that the energy and medicinal properties of this plant are concentrated in its root. If you have access to uncontaminated soil, you can harvest the dandelion roots, dry them and make a decoction. Simply simmer the roots over medium heat for 20-30 minutes with a lid and drink this potion to gently activate digestion and elimination functions.