We had a very mild winter this year here in Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia. With no major snow falls or super cold days to keep us bundled up inside to rest and rejuvenate, we’ve just kept on keeping on all year. Now that the weather is warming up and we’re getting more rain, the early spring plants are beginning to grow and bloom. I’ve seen crocuses and tulips and daffodils growing this week, and I’ve even seen some flowers on the trees.
Whether we’re ready or not, spring is happening.
And many of my patients are finding themselves tired, dizzy, headachey, hollow, irritable, and confused.
This is a common problem to have as we shift from winter to spring. During the winter, we really need to take time to go inward and be still. When we take that time, we ensure that we conserve our resources while we’re getting less light from our environment (because even if it was a mild winter, the sun still didn’t come out as much as it does in the fall and spring). When we continue to work at the same pace even when the light cannot nourish us as much, we find ourselves tired and unable to pick up the pace as nature requires once the spring begins.
So how, oh how, can you make the indescribably difficult transition into spring after “missing” winter?
Rest, movement, and acupuncture.
Coffee doesn’t replace a good night’s sleep. In the same way, there’s no magic bullet that will help us to burst into the springtime. We need to take things easy going into the spring this year. The ancients teach us that we should base our sleep schedule on the sun (go to sleep when it gets dark outside, or at least lay down and stop doing “yang” activities, like work and play). According to some of the earliest Chinese medical texts, the way to health is to go to sleep early, rise with the sun, and meditate before using the restroom, having breakfast, and going for a walk. I would argue they would also recommend cutting out caffeine (I know, I know, but it really makes us burn the candle at both ends).
Meditation is one of the most powerful tools we have within ourselves for getting the most out of a restful moment. If you don’t know how to meditate, but you do know how to watch TV, I have great news for you! Meditation is the act of observation, so you do know how to meditate. It’s just a matter of turning the observer inward instead of outward. To begin meditating, I recommend finding a comfortable seated posture, setting a timer (start with 5 minutes, but see if you can work your way up to 15, 30, or even 60 minutes during deep restorative moments), and gently closing your eyes or maintaining a soft gaze at a spot on the floor about 10 feet away. Let the body breathe at its natural rate, and just be present to the breathing. As you breathe in, you can let your mind think, “I’m breathing in,” and as you’re breathing out you can let your mind say, “I’m breathing out.” I find that for the first several minutes of my meditation, my mind is frantically running around and yelling at me about all the things I need to spend time doing with my day. Whenever I notice that I’m inside of these thoughts instead of watching them go by, I come back to my breath. “I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out.” From this place, I see the thoughts happening, but I’m not totally within them. After this to-do list patter calms, I notice sensations in my body that are emotionally charged. I let my mind spend a moment or two naming the emotions, and wondering where they’re coming from, then I come back to… you guessed it!
And so on, and so forth, until the timer goes off.
And that’s how you meditate.
Well, that’s how I meditate.
You can also look on YouTube for a number of fantastic guided meditations of varying lengths as a good starting point.
When the meditation is over, I find that my mind is calmer and more prepared to pursue the various tasks it was so eager to do, with more clarity and purpose than it had at the beginning. And I’ve given the emotions some space to move, so my body is more relaxed and ready to take action as needed.
In the spring, I notice a lot of emotional sensations in my ribcage, forehead, and upper back. When I take the time to stretch, walk, and do something creative, I find these emotional sensations move more easily. The emotion related to spring is anger. Anger is a kind of motive force that potentiates us from one state to another. It’s a powerful force to fight back against injustice, and it’s also the force that generates the violent, beautiful, painful movements of birth and growth.
When spring happens, that movement is in full force. We have to go with the flow, to a degree, and channel this movement to our benefit. When we resist it, symptoms occur. Symptoms like headaches, rib pains, sinus pressure, itchy and watery eyes, styes, joint pains, pulled muscles, irritability, insomnia, and more.
So lean in a little. Get creative. Go for a walk. Be outside, touch or even climb some trees. Sing loudly (or, if you must, quietly). Write something to express your emotions, and then burn it or ball it up and throw it. Throw eggs at a tree. Hit a pillow with a wiffle ball bat. Dance.
Do something to move that energy as it arises.
When anger is present, but there’s no effective action to take about it, the most effective action is letting go of the anger. Movement is an essential tool for this purpose.
Still struggling to get with the spring program? Schedule your spring tune-up!
The style of acupuncture that I practice includes a powerful seasonal treatment for each major energetic change of the year. This treatment encourages a balanced approach to the change of seasons – one where part of you is moving forward, and another part is holding back. In spring, this encourages the appropriate amount of motive force to propel you into the season according to your resources. You get just as much get-up-and-go as your body can support. If you’re meditating, and moving, and still feeling cruddy, consider scheduling with me today.
And particularly if you suffer from allergies, acupuncture could be just what your body needs to put out the fire. Check out this article from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) on acupuncture for allergies. The article provides supporting evidence that acupuncture could be a good alternative or adjunct to antihistamines for the treatment of seasonal allergies.
Mention this blog post for an extra $10 off your next treatment!
This blog is not intended to replace medical care.