tcm lessonsWhile I love the beautiful sunshine, warm breezes and orchestral chirping of birds in spring, there is another layer to spring which strongly inspires me to action and motivates me to create something new.  Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has tons to teach us on the subject of harmony.  To harmonize the body, mind and spirit is, after all, the primary concern and objective of TCM lessons.

We do not exist in isolation from the natural world.  We are strongly influenced by the world around us: the changes of weather, the length of daylight hours, the fullness of the moon, nutrients in the soil,  migration patterns of birds, mating habits of wolves, and the busy-ness of bees.

While all of these natural phenomena may feel like things outside of us, they are most certainly influencing our lives and our health in subtle and profound ways.  

It’s my job to remind you of the things that shape and influence the harmony of your wellbeing.  Those things which may have been forgotten between shuttling your kids off to school, responding to email, paying the bills, and planning a vacation.

Life is busy, and if we don’t pause and tune into these subtle changes of energy, we will certainly fall into disharmony and ultimately disease.

The energetic qualities of every season have a tremendous influence over our human experience.

When you have the benefit of understanding these nuances, you become more adaptable, resilient, mindful, and ultimately a more compassionate person.

You might be wondering how exactly does this knowledge engender compassion?

When you understand that the energy of winter is contracted, dark, slow and quiet, you won’t beat yourself up for being “lazy”.  You will instead understand that nature has gone dormant, and it’s ok for you to do the same.

This week I was discussing with a patient the details of her self-care practices and how these specifically and directly affect her overall health.

We got onto the topic of her meditation practice; she noticed that lately there has been something different about the quality of her meditation compared to a couple of months ago.  

In a nutshell, she thought maybe she was doing something wrong or maybe that something was wrong with her which caused a change in her experience while meditating.

Yet, it was immediately obvious to me as she described the shifts, that she isn’t inherently flawed or wasn’t doing anything wrong at all.

What she is experiencing is a shift in the unique energetic qualities of winter and spring as explained by the wisdom of TCM lessons.   

For anyone who meditates, you may find staying in the moment is a little more tricky than it was in early March.

Spring energy is rapid, unpredictable, inconsistent, forceful, driving outward and upward, intense, and pressurized.

In the physical body this may manifest as tightness and tension of the muscles, more frequent headaches, irritation of the sinuses and respiratory system, and interrupted sleep, irregular menstruation, skin irritations and even frequent sighing.

How these qualities manifest in the emotions are frequent ups and downs, frustration, and easy to anger.

In the mind, spring energy is future thinking/planning, rapid thoughts and a frenetic movement of ideas which pass through as quickly as the clouds on a windy day.

On the spirit level, this manifests as the motivation to start something new, be more adventurous, take bigger risks, crave an adventure, create better habits, and turn over a new leaf.  

Self awareness is a multi-dimensional practice of observing the qualities and sensations of the physical body, bringing attention to the narratives, stories, dialogues and thoughts of the mind, and listening to the longing of our hearts and spirits.  

Self awareness requires consistent practice and according to TCM lessons

It is a critical component to staying in harmony and avoiding imbalance.  

We currently live in an age where technology has created conditions that are inherently disruptive and distractive; it is crucial you slow down, get present and observe.

If you don’t think you have time or opportunities for pausing, think again.  

We aren’t talking about total digital disconnect.  We are talking about sitting on a park bench listening to the sounds around you, noticing the sensation of wind and sun on your skin, observing the plants and animals, actually watching the sun rise or set.

Pausing is as simple as taking a moment to connect to your breath.  

Take three minutes to do a body scan from head to toe and simply notice what you notice.

Or dedicate an entire hour to your yoga practice.  There are many opportunities throughout the day and dozens of ways to press pause.

What matters isn’t which method you choose, what matters is that you choose to do it and do it often.