Of all the seasons, spring affords the most movement, whether in sap flowing through the trees, crocuses breaking through the earth or buds blossoming. The increased warmth and light not only makes our outer world come alive again, but revives our inner world as well. According to Chinese Medicine the liver needs to work a little harder than the rest of the organs at this time of year. What can we do, according to these ancient principles, to support health and rejuvenation in this season of rebirth?
Get Out and Move. Go for a fast walk on the High Line or a slow jog along the Hudson. No time for a walk? Just step outside your door. Go for ten minutes, turn around and return. If done at a brisk pace, you will have given your cardiovascular system a beneficial workout. Find an exercise you like or want to explore like yoga, tai chi or qigong. Practice with a friend or go to a class once a week. Balance heart-elevating exercise with stretching and strengthening. This is a perfect blend to help the circulation move in healthy ways.
Eat Green. Fresh greens help to cleanse the liver. Dandelion greens, watercress, arugula, and baby spinach are particularly good. Be creative and toss yourself an unusual salad. ‘Green’ drinks are good, too. The “Green Champagne” from the juice bar at Life Thyme on Sixth Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets is one of their most popular drinks. It is a surprisingly tasty blend of celery, kale, collard greens, chard, ginger and apple. Sour foods are good in the spring, as well. Think of lemon or lime in your water, pickle slices on sandwiches and extra vinegar on salads.
Express Yourself. According to Chinese medicine, a healthy liver moves one toward creativity in uniquely personal manifestations. Perhaps it is time to plant a small garden, paint a picture, begin writing that memoir or paint a room mint green. Take advantage of the season’s energy to start a new project or finish an old one.
See an Acupuncturist. A competent practitioner of Eastern medicine can feel liver stagnation in the pulse, see it on the tongue and in the eyes, and hear it in the voice. Irritability, depression and frustration indicate the need to free up the circulation. Seasonal “tune-ups” can effectively resolve minor issues that could otherwise require more serious intervention later. It is much easier to redirect the flow of a small river than to build a dam. “Liver qi stagnation” is the most common presentation in spring or any other season. Needles, massages or any number of techniques can be used to help change circulation. The majority of people feel lighter and less stressed after a good session.
Appreciate. If none of the above sound appealing to you, maybe you’ll find the perfect spring awakening by sitting outside again and watching the world walk by at Jack’s or Joe’s or your own favorite perch. Your whole body will benefit from the glow that comes with gratitude.