I love Spring! It is natural to feel immense gratitude and appreciation as Spring Qi rises again and life floods back everywhere. From the beauty of Spring blossoms and budding leaves, to the hearts music in bird song and buzzing bees, there is a promise of new life. It is also the time to let go of what came before.
Beltane (usually celebrated on 1st May) is the halfway mark between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. We are now at the peak of Spring in the Northern hemisphere!
According to Qigong and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the liver and gall bladder are at their peak of activity now as well. Spring is the ideal time to support them. A healthy liver is important for the smooth flow of blood, Qi (vital energy) and emotions in the body. The liver is affected very quickly by stagnant emotions, anger, and stress. The gall bladder governs decisions, plans, dreams, and assertiveness.
Man and nature are a holistic entity, and if we take our cue from nature, we will stay more aligned with life. In this short post we will look at how to align with Spring inside ourselves too – through diet, Qigong, and personal choices.
Spring is the time of new life… the ideal time to make an emotional/spiritual breakthrough, to bring ideas, hopes and dreams to action. Maybe you are inspired to do your own internal Spring cleaning and create your own breakthrough actions. Qigong is a useful tool to help with that, especially Yuan Gong as it not only address the physical body and Qi condition, but also helps us to break out of patterns on the consciousness level and awaken our true nature!
A well-functioning liver and gall bladder play an important role in Spleen and lung health (which affect immunity), health of tendons/sinews (which impacts flexibility/strength), and eye health (seeing the way forward). Health of the liver is also reflected in the nails.
We can find excellent dietary guidelines for Spring liver and gall bladder health by looking at nature. Local, wholesome food grows around you as nature intended. Spring is the season of birth, renewal, regeneration, and growth. It is associated with the ‘wood’ element, colour ‘green’ (aqua-marine) and ‘sour’ taste. Green sprouting vegetables are rich in chlorophyll and rejuvenate the liver. There is so much available to forage now.
There have been some majestic looking dandelions recently with their vibrant yellow flowers and spherical seed heads ready to blow away! Bitter leafy greens especially dandelions are a superfood that is available everywhere. Chickweed (one of the most common weeds), watercress (wash thoroughly or lightly cook in a soup if harvested near cattle) and of course nettle and wild garlic soup… are a few examples of other good food forage for the liver.
Kale, parsley swiss, chard, mustard greens, and spinach are a few highly recommended Spring leafy greens to eat that are very easy to grow in your garden. Plants such as radishes can be grown that move liver Qi and open the liver meridian. Spirulina and chlorella will also be extremely helpful if you do not have access to naturally growing fresh leaves. A little bit of sweetness from lightly cooked (for easy digestion) carrots and beetroot is also good because it nourishes the blood as we move towards Summer weather.
Just like other animals humans often store fats in their body during Winter. Citrus fruit like lemon, lime and grapefruit or apple cider vinegar can help cut fat, move bile, and keep liver/gall bladder Qi flowing smoothly. I often start the day with a cup of lemon tea. Lemons are rich in vitamin C, potassium (useful as the weather gets warmer) and antioxidants. They also balance the bodies pH and are very good for the liver. Other tea that is good in Spring include green tea, mint tea, nettle tea, and milk thistle tea (an especially good liver detox).
There are special practices we can use in Qigong to help the liver, some include sound, visualisation, and movement. These are a little outside the scope of this short article, but perhaps we will look at some of these in this week’s ‘Qigong for Spring’ class on Thursday https://awakentruenature.com/yuan-qigong-and-ren-xue/.
There are also a few very simple healing techniques that can be done by someone with little or no knowledge of Qigong. This time last year I recorded my first video on YouTube about ‘Rubbing Qi to show one of these exercises. This exercise can be used anywhere on the body for healing. The liver is hard to miss because it is the largest organ in the body – about the size of a football in an adult! It is above the stomach and beneath the diaphragm in the upper right of the abdomen. You can watch the rubbing Qi video I made here – https://youtu.be/Z5FDCLR6e5Q. The second video I made was a quick one about foraging a spring salad and you can watch it here – https://youtu.be/CELCNGr1q5Q, Please excuse the quality of sound in these first two videos I shot (turn up the volume!) as I was learning technology basics!
Acupressure point ‘Liver 3’ (Tai Chong) can be massaged on each foot for a few seconds to help liver Qi and relieve stress. If you are interested you can easily search it up on the internet. (It is is located on the foot about two finger widths toward the leg from the place where the skin of the big toe and the next toe join – a depression just before the junction between the two bones. It will feel tender when pressed.
We can take our lessons from the trees; grounded and anchored into the earth so that we don’t become easily blown over. Maintaining flexibility within allows the wind to flow through our branches without snapping from rigidity. Remember to do some Dantian breathing and come back to your centre.
Go outdoors and enjoy the magic of Spring! Do some Qigong, walking, foraging and gardening… go and forgive who ever you need to so you can be free… set your life in the direction of your dreams… take of your shoes for a few minutes and walk barefoot to connect with the season amidst the flowers and birdsong. Be kind to yourself – kindness is the positive emotion associated with a healthy liver. Take care 😊