Living with the seasons, a Chinese medicine perspective – part 3

Do we live according to the seasons, I asked in the blog post “SUP Yoga life, a Chinese medicine perspective – part 2. Not much, I also said.

So what happens? Our inner landscape reacts. Our organs react. Our emotions. Our energy. Our lives.

CONTROLLING (GENERATING) CYCLES

According to Chinese medicine, each season is connected to an element. So far so good. Here´s a reminder:

Wood is the element connected to Spring
Fire is the element connected to Summer
Earth is the element connected to late Summer
Metal is the element connected to Fall
Water is the element connected to Winter

Now, these elements/phases work in a controlling cycle. This means spring controls summer, which in turn controls late summer, and so on. This is often explained like the relationship between a mother and a child. Spring is the mother of summer. Summer is the son of Spring. And so on. Each season in nature controls the next season. There´s also a few more cycles of restriction etc. but for now let’s stick with the controlling cycle. A cycle that becomes extra relevant for us humans because of this cycle´s connection to our organs. Now this is where it becomes super interesting and practical, because now we´re going to talk emotions, and understanding some of the why´s behind our behaviors.

 

 

5 ELEMENT ORGAN THEORY

Each element/phase is connected to a season. Each element/phase and its season is also connected to specific organs in our bodies. And each of these organs have a specific emotion related to it.

Let me explain:

Wood is the element of Spring. The organs connected to this season and element are the liver and gallbladder. And the emotions of the liver and gallbladder is irritation, anger and frustration.

SO HOW DOES THIS WORK PRACTICALLY?

Well, it can turn out in different ways. A person who´s often angry, frustrated and irritated can have an imbalance in the energy of the liver. But it goes both ways, which means the feelings and expressions of anger could stem from someone making us angry – which can harm the energy of the liver. It goes both ways. And these emotions are typical for the season of Spring. This means we should be extra careful on these emotions during that season. The remedy for anger, frustration and irritation is – patience. Working on meditation focusing on patience – excellent.

Another thing we could do, practically, is to work with a specific are of our bodies. See, the 5 element theory and its 5 organ theory is also connected to our energy channels in our bodies – the meridians. This is called the Meridian theory.


Again let’s look at wood – spring – liver/gallbladder – anger. The meridians of the liver flows from our feet, along the inside part of our legs and up to the torso and face, ending in our eyes. The gallbladder channel flows along the lateral part of our bodies. This means we can focus on stretching those parts of our bodies, to harmonize the energy of those organs.

IT GOES BOTH WAYS

Again, though, it goes both ways. Have you ever done a long yin yoga pose where you stretch your hip flexors, like for example, the Dragon pose – and felt a lot of irritation being stirred up? Well, this is the liver energy. Rising energy going upwards, building heat. And since the liver meridian flows through our hip flexors, it makes sense that we could experience some of these emotions connected to the liver. The best remedy – stay and work on patience. Breathe.

If we don´ live according to the seasons – meaning we for example haven´t rested enough during winter (the time of yin, rest, rejuvenation) we don´t have the expanding and growing energy when we enter fall. Wood stands for expansion and growth. Just look at nature, everything is starting to bloom. If we have n´t used winter as a time of rest, we are depleted when spring comes. Spring depression. Low energy. Tiredness. Very common. What does the animals do during winter? Correct – they rest. Now we are humans and we are expected to work as normal during winter, but there are still things we could do. Go to sleep early, and sleep more. Save the hard and sweaty workouts until yang season. Eat warm food. Socialize less. Go within. Meditate.

THE ORGANS AND EMOTIONS

Here´s a list of the connections so far:

Wood – Spring – Liver/Gallbladder – Anger
Fire – Summer – Heart/Small intestine – Joy
Earth – Late summer – Stomach/Spleen – Worry
Metal – Fall – Lungs/Large intestine – Sorrow
Water – Winter – Kidneys/Urinary bladder – Fear

NOW LISTEN UP, THIS IS AWESOME

According to Chinese medicine, there are no good or bad emotions. Emotions are just energy, and a reflection of our inner state. Emotions are Chi. Isn´t that just beautiful?

This means even the emotion joy can be too much, causing harm to the heart and small intestine. Too much of any of our emotions can cause imbalances. This means, harmony and allowing the emotions to flow is what we could do. Feeling angry, well – feel angry. But don´t allow yourself to be an angry person, letting the anger live in your body too long. Happy? Well, it´s nice to feel happiness, and we should. But striving to be happy all the time isn´t harmony. Life will happen, and all emotions should be felt and dealt with.

It’s often when we finally let our guard down, in fact, when our hearts crack, that the springs water of bodhicitta gurgles up. This is why, the Dalai Lama said, its important to reflect every day on the worlds suffering. Pain can harden us and make us afraid. Or it can make us vulnerable – the doorway to bodhicitta. The difference, that Dalai Lama emphasized, depends on how much we open to the difficult moments as opportunities.

– All our Waves are Water, Jaimal Yogis 

A Chinese medicine doctor once told me this. In the Western world we strive so hard to feel happy all the time. We do everything we can to not feel sadness. We´re afraid of feelings we judge as bad. But there are no bad emotions. It´s just energy. Sadness is just… sadness. Which need to be felt and dealt with, or it will harm us if it becomes permanent. If we don´t allow ourselves to feel sad, that energy will get stuck in the organs connected to sorrow – the lungs and large intestine – which can potentially harm those organs. Pushing down feelings is exhausting. Feelings need to be felt, and released.

OK, LET´S STOP HERE FOR NOW

It´s much, I know. Once we grasp the theory behind this, it´s beautiful, trust me.

Next up is to look more closely to each season, starting with – September. I´ll give you specific details on this season we´re entering, late summer, and how you can work with your SUP yoga practice, as well as your earth bound practice, during this season. A beautiful season with hidden secrets we could use in our practice. It´s time to let go…

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