Spring: The Will to Life, and Allergies!
“The 3 months of spring
Are called springing up and unfolding.
Heaven and Earth together produce life,
and the 10,000 beings are invigorated.
At night, one goes to bed, at dawn, one gets up.
One paces in the courtyard with great strides,
Hair loose, body at ease,
Exerting the will for life:
Letting live, not killing;
Giving, not taking away;
Rewarding, not punishing.
With the spring energy
It is the way
That maintains the drive of life.
(Larre, C. (1994). The way of heaven: Neijing Suwen chapters 1 and 2;[translation with commentary]. Monkey Press.)
Spring energy is stirring. In nature, the flocks of geese are squawking across the sky and the crocuses are poking their tips through the ground. And, the drivers on the road have gone nuts! These are all signs of this season and it marks the great will to life. Spring brings an assertive energy that is necessary for a young seeding to burst through the hard earth to become a bamboo shoot. It can be a brash energy that moves through that assertive blast into the phase of new growth. We feel this prickly movement in our seasonal allergies too (see below for some tips).
For health, what matters in emotion is whether we are able to ride the wave. It is only damaging when it remains is in extreme excess, in complete absence, or when it stagnates within us. Stagnation of anger and frustration can appear as abdominal distention, breast tenderness before menses, chest stuffiness, irritability and even mental depression. Chronic excess anger and frustration can lead to tension headaches, and/or high blood pressure, or can over-react on the stomach causing stomach issues. Stress itself is not bad. Our heart muscle exerts great stress in each contraction….but then, it relaxes between beats. This is what we need to seek too…the relaxation in between!
In addition to acupuncture, here are some ways you can help manage frustration, anger and spring allergies:
Get physical and work out your energy. The outside is nature’s healing balm! Spring is the time for getting outside and doing physical activity. It is a super time to join a hiking club, hitting baseballs, or planting spring veggies. It is helpful to notice when you are frustrated or angry and find constructive ways to release that energy. Held inside, emotions can become embodied as high blood pressure, headaches and even masses. Try throwing eggs at a tree, martial arts, or dance it out! Walking meditations in the woods or in a labyrinth are beautifully relaxing.
Do things with other people: doing things with other people is also huge part of our well-being. It brings joy and relatedness which are the very fabric of humanness.
Cultivate flexibility: try changing up the usual way you do things: take a different route to work or walk somewhere different. Try doing something new, or extend yourself to try and understand something from completely different the perspective. Where could that “unreasonable” person be coming from?
Meditation or meditative movement like Qi Gong : More and more research supports the value of “meditative movement” like qi gong and yoga as transformative activities that people even report help in weathering relationship difficulties. Try this 10 minute routine to sooth your irritability and calm the mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpG7xCkiq0A or this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac08kMK-dyI&t=218s
Take effective action or let it go: we get mad because of a real or perceived injustice. The news is full of many horrendous events that can stoke our ire. How can we take positive action and yet harbor inside ourselves powerful emotions that harm us? How can you turn your strong emotions in to a gift? What positive action can you take? If it is not possible at this time in your life, then can you let it go for now? Maybe take a media break.
Cultivate forgiveness: Even with taking effective action, there is emerging evidence that forgiveness allows us to release toxic emotions so they do not turn inward on ourselves. There many beautiful examples of individuals forgiving the most awful of injustices, including Mandela who forged loving kindness with his jailers and Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of the Holocaust, who found it in herself to forgive the Nazis for the horrors committed on her and her twin sister. In an interview, Mozes says “because she was able to forgive her worst enemies, she was finally able to free herself from her victim status. But, she is quick to add, forgiveness does not mean forgetting. …….. every victim has the right to heal themselves as well as they can. And the best thing about the remedy of forgiveness, she says, is that there are no side effects. And everybody can afford it. Tara Brach has a wonderful talk and meditation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlgbWE75Ano
Tips for Seasonal Allergies and colds: In Chinse Medicine, springtime is also associated with Wind (If you look at NOAA data, you can see it is actually more windy in spring on average):
Acupuncture and Qi gong are great supports (great anytime but getting acupuncture in the wintertime prior to Spring is even better).
Keep warm---don’t get the shorts out quite yet! the temperatures are still variable. Chinese wisdom is to stay bundled up for awhile while your body is acclimating to the new season.
Use a neti pot to wash the pollen from your nasal cavity
Avoid cold foods, sweets, and dairy which can cause phlegm
Eat seasonally and warming foods: fennel, leek cauliflower, Kohlrabi, green onions, and pea shoots, oats, aniseed, ginger, coriander (Kastner, 2009)
Use an air purifier/filter to remove pollen
Wishing you ease and joy.
(Please feel free to share with others).
Kastner, J. (2009). Chinese Nutrition Therapy. Dietetics in traditional chinese medicine (Second. Ed)
Maher, C., Ferguson, M., Vandelanotte, C., Plotnikoff, R., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., Thomas, S., ... & Olds, T. (2015). A web-based, social networking physical activity intervention for insufficiently active adults delivered via Facebook app: randomized controlled trial. Journal of medical Internet research, 17(7).
Ross, A., Bevans, M., Friedmann, E., Williams, L., & Thomas, S. (2014). “I Am a Nice Person When I Do Yoga!!!” A Qualitative Analysis of How Yoga Affects Relationships. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 32(2), 67-77.