Spring is finally here, but don’t pack away your scarf!
The Spring Equinox has passed so I think we can safely say that Spring is finally here, although on some days it doesn’t feel like it. In fact, research shows that Spring is arriving earlier every year. Over the last 10 years it has been on average 11 days earlier than it was in the 1970s. And as flowers and foliage emerges earlier, so does the wildlife that depends on it, which can be a real problem. It mucks up the whole cycle of nature. You only have to watch the news to see how Global Warming is affecting people all around the world.
It may not seem like it in our world of plastic and deadlines, but we are all part of nature. Human, animal or plant – we all depend of the timetable of the seasons. And just like nature, man can also be tricked into acting like the summer is here. Yesterday at 9am I saw a man in shorts and t-shirt walking his dog. It was freezing!
So don’t be to eager to get your shorts on, it’s not quite summer yet.
But as it is now officially Spring, let’s look at what Chinese Medicine tells us about this time of year and its impact on our health.
Spring and the Wood Element – Humans are the same as trees.
In Chinese Medicine it is the Wood element that is associated with the Spring. It’s the time of birth, rebirth, flexibility and expansion. You only have to look around you to see the Wood element in action. In nature we can see a healthy Wood element in how the trees yield and spring back on a windy day. If they cannot yield then they simply snap or they are uprooted.
In our bodies it is the Liver that is responsible for the free movement of energy, just as the Wood element is in nature. Anger is the emotion associated with the Liver and Wood. Think back to how you felt the last time you were really angry. It can feel as if you are paralyzed in your fury and you will explode if don’t shout or stamp your foot. Some people feel like this all the time!
Anger is an energy – express yourself.
If we can’t yield to pressure we will eventually snap. In America they call this going postal, named after the first workplace shootings that happened at a post office (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Going_postal). The person responsible in this instance suppressed his anger and frustration to the point where he simply snapped.
Anger can be a powerful, positive force…but only if it is expressed appropriately and in the right direction. It can be insidious and all consuming, and often it is so prevalent we don’t even realize we are angry! The pressures of modern living certainly give us all plenty of reason to be angry.
Any emotion left unchecked and out of control will eventually affect our health. Anger, however, so common in our society, will affect the Liver, and given time it will eventually damage all the body’s organs. Anger can lead to headaches or migraine, stiff neck and shoulders, constipation, and in more serious cases, autoimmune disease. Unfortunately this is by far not a definitive list.
So, it’s important that we are able to express our emotions. Some people do this with exercise, others use art. Just being able to talk to someone can also be of huge benefit. But simply bottling up our emotions can have devastating consequences to your health, but possibly to everyone else.
So what is an appropriate expression of anger?
Well, sport and exercise can be good outlets, but simply hitting a punch bag or pounding the pavement will only take you so far. It may feel good at the time but it won’t deal with the cause.
The Dalai Lama says that all the things that stirred up your anger can go away with a peaceful mind. Well, Mind in Chinese Medicine is just another expression of Qi, so directing the Mind through meditation (which includes Qi Gong and Tai chi) can help the Qi flow more smoothly. Martial Arts such as Wing Chun can also help. But when dealing with the long-term effects of anger, such as migraine, you may need the help of Acupuncture and Tui na.