As we talked about in the last blog, the organ connected with Spring is the Liver in Chinese Medicine (see Early Spring Blog for more info). As we journeyed through the spring festivals of Passover and Easter this year, I thought about the connection between the themes of these festivals and the Liver. Both festivals celebrate transformation, liberation, a radical departure from what has been (oppression, entrapment) into what ismiraculously becoming (freedom, renewal, resurrection).
So too, our Liver Qi has a tendency to get what we call congested, stagnant. (Often this is caused by stress or unprocessed emotion, though there are other causes as well.) In fact, the Liver is so prone to this that the emotion associated with Liver is anger, which is where we sometimes end up when feelings are compressed. Not only can Liver Qi congestion affect the body in myriads of ways (insomnia, indigestion, PMS, headaches, to name a few), but it often leaves us feeling very irritable or depressed. This can be quite an oppressive, uncomfortable feeling. Spring is a time of year to both cleanse our livers (see last blog for suggestions on this) and to provide our souls with a radical renewal. A good time to make changes.
Movement and exercise, as well as time spent in nature, especially among trees, are excellent ways to release the Liver Qi into a free flow of movement. Liver is connected with vision and the eyes, as well as our direction and ambition in life. For myself, walking in nature and seeing nature often renews my vision to see my own life more clearly, as well as to envision the future with fresh eyes.
I was also thinking today about the animal associated with the Liver, the blue-green dragon. Being born in the year of the dragon myself, I imagined this dragon, like myself, sometimes feeling ready to breathe fire (Liver Qi congestion time). Yet, if feelings were allowed to move freely in appropriate channels, perhaps the dragon would fly on beautiful wings, instead?
The element for Liver is wood, and the color is green. This is the time when we feel that new green life emerging like sprouting leaves inside us, ready to take our direction and shape from the wind (element of Liver). (We can also think about carefully pruning our lives and selves so we don’t turn into dead wood!)
Liver’s soul, Hun, is that soul in us that is ever so human. Like trees, we are links between earth and sky. The Hun is who we are as we dream, both asleep and awake. Who we are in our raw emotions. Who we are in our visions and plans. Who we are apart from our physical bodies and divine spirits, yet intrinsically connected to both. This can be hard work! No wonder we must continually keep in movement and balance, self nourishment and rest too, to sustain.
As previously mentioned, we can support our Livers in balance at this time by including sour tastes such as lemon and apple cider vinegar in our daily habits, as well as nettles, dandelion, and rosebuds. We can eat simple foods. We can get regular movement and time in nature. Go to bed by ten or eleven to allow the liver to restore during its allotted time. (I am always happy to explore or explain many of these ideas and more, at further length, in person.) And of course regular acupuncture, herbs, and massage are vital for your Liver too!
Yours in Spring, Shoshana