“The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the squirrels are merrily digging up their nuts… why can’t I get with the program?!”
Many people find the transition to Spring to be challenging. On the one hand, it can be exiting to see nature springing into action, refreshing to feel a warm breeze on your face as you walk from office to car to home and so on. On the other hand, so many of us find that with the spring we get:
-higher incidence of cold, flu
-allergies! and the accompanying frustration
-twitching or inflamed eyes (styes, bloodshot eyes)
-more headaches and migraines
-more muscle pains and spasms
The heart of all of these issues stems from two ideas in Chinese medicine.
1) Resonance (Qi, Prana, Spirit, Energy, whatever you want to call it) is life
2) The action of each season prepares nature (and the beings that inhabit it) for the next season
What do we mean by Resonance? As without, so it is within. In the natural world right now, the weather is chaotic, with lots of wind. The plants are bursting forth with energy, buds, blossoms. Many of the animals are getting ready to mate. The pollinators are whipping up into a frenzy of action. Within the body, chaos and wind show up as twitchy eyes, headaches and migraines, and muscle pains and spasms when there is already a degree of imbalance present. If your Qi isn’t moving smoothly, all this extra stimulation and Qi you’re getting from the Springtime rush has nowhere to go, and causes issues like spasms and pain (the Sinews and the Eyes are correspondences with the Wood element, which is the Spring time element).
As for the preparation factor, this comes back to our societal ways of life. Think back to a time before electricity, before artificial light, back to simple days of farming and hunting and keeping house. Our ancestors didn’t get up at 5 AM, go to the gym for an hour, shower, have a rushed breakfast, work 9 hours, eat lunch at their desk, get home very late and watch TV for two hours before falling asleep on the couch every day all winter long (I’m not speaking from experience or anything haha). They rose with the sun, only did as much activity as the weather allowed, ate from their stores, and went to sleep when the sun set. With shorter days and longer nights, that means they rested more in the winter than during other times of year. By foregoing this time of rest and lower activity, we are failing to rejuvenate during the winter, and when the spring comes our Qi is depleted and not moving smoothly. Think of a great river during a drought - when the water levels are low, the river moves slowly and creates pools of stagnant water between the rocks. When the rains (or the thawing of snows) come at last, the river rushes and clears out these stagnant pools. If we don’t have enough Qi to move the rivers of Qi (the meridians), we suffer with stagnant pools of Qi that cause pains and other imbalances. Allergies happen when our Qi is weak, too. Tired and unable to cope with the pressures of our environment, our Wei Qi (defensive Qi) decides "better safe than sorry!" and begins attacking any and everything, because as far as it's concerned, it's better to be itchy and sneezy than dead, and the Qi is weak enough that failure to fight back against a genuine threat could seriously damage the body.
If you’re feeling unprepared for spring, see what you can do to rejuvenate. Take a little extra time off, slow down, take a bath. Fill up your river so you can get moving with nature again. And consider coming in for an acupuncture tune-up to re-acquaint yourself with your natural rhythms.