The earliest written text in China was written around 600BC. It lays the foundation for Chinese Medicine in a discussion between a wise sage - the Yellow Emperor and his student - Qibo
Qibo asks why “most people in ancient times lived over 100 years and remained active and healthy. But nowadays people become decrepit and failing when they’re only 50?” Not entirely true but you get the idea. He goes on to ask, “Is this because of changes in the environment or have people neglected to maintain their health?”
Our wise man explains, “the ancients who knew how to remain healthy lived in harmony with seasons.” It sounds lovely - but how do we do this in the modern world?
In Spring nature is bursting out from hibernation: a dandelion pushes through a crack in the pavement and a flock of migrating birds start the journey of a thousand miles. Internally our winter slump (often a sense of heaviness or low mood) begins to lift. The Yellow Emperor tells us from his observation of the universe that “the liver and gallbladder are associated with spring” and that internal “heat begins to rise to the surface.”
However, we may feel irritable, have muscle stiffness, even sciatica, trouble getting to sleep, headaches or a flare-up of inflammation (e.g. an old skin problem erupts or tummy trouble returns). These are all signs our liver and gallbladder meridian are out of balance. (A meridian is a pathway of movement that connects external parts of the body to the internal.)
Here is a list of things that will help rebalance the liver and gallbladder meridian and improve our general health.
- Increase fluids: room temperature water with a slice of lemon- especially good first thing in the morning. Reduce caffeine levels and alcohol.
- Detox & eat more greens, lightly steamed vegetables and fish.
- Build up a sweat: good anaerobic exercise will pump more blood through the liver and flush out the bad stuff.
- Positive rest: lie horizontal for 15-20 minutes. (Letting the mind settle to music or read.) This allows the liver to nourish and filter the blood.
- Free up frustrations: anger is the emotion associated with the liver (hence the old saying “I feel liverish”). Areas of tension can build up when we fail to let go or express emotions. These can settle in the more usual spots causing neck/shoulder tension or go deeper into internal organs e.g. “pit of the stomach”.
- Stretching exercises - such as yoga are great for helping open and release blocked feelings as is shaking.
- Shake it out! This is an exercise often used in Chi Kung - a type of Chinese Yoga. Stand shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hands held together just below the belly button. Star a gentle shaking motion from the legs. Build up momentum. Let your arms fall by your sides. Breathe out in short bursts. Shake into any areas of tightness/discomfort. Speed up, slow down and stop. Come back to the original posture. Allow your breathing to settle to the navel/ soles of the feet. Notice any changes through your system.
Our wise Emperor concludes saying “this is the way to cultivate the vitality of spring”. It will make the body “able to adapt to the flourishing vitality of the summer.” Sounds great- enough to put a Spring in your stride!