In the Chinese lunar calendar, Lichun is the first of the 24 solar terms in a year and it means "to establish spring". This traditionally signifies that spring has begun. Wood is the element of spring due to its characteristic of new growth. As the land begin to warm up (yang energy rise), new branches and leaves grow on the trees. Wood is also closely associated with the liver organ because the liver energy tend to flow freely and without restraint (much like the energy required for growth).
In Asia, Lichun usually occurs just before Chinese New Year so it is a new start to the year. The liver energy helps by pushing us to establish new aspirations, make decisions and be driven by momentum. In Australia, spring begins mid year. Perhaps this means it is a good time for us to reflect on how much of the new year aspirations we have accomplished or start the goals we haven't quite put into action. It’s an opportunity for us to make any positive changes before we reach the end of the year.
When the liver/wood energy is troubled we may find ourselves easily frustrated, angry or lost. We become indecisive, impatient and have negative attitudes.
Below are a few health tips in spring for looking after the liver and preserve yang energy:
1. Sour flavours enters the liver channel and is astringent. This will affect the way yang energy spread throughout the body and hinder the free flow of liver qi. So during this period it is best to avoid sour foods and have a little more warm pungent flavours to assist the yang and qi regulation.
Celery, Coriander, Mustard, Ginger, Fennel, Dill, Peanuts.
2. Sour flavours also fire up the liver, and this affects the normal functioning of the digestive system. Introducing more sweet foods into the diet can help to support the spleen/stomach better.
Jujube Berry, Goji Berry, Pumpkin, Capsicum, Spinach, Honey, Sweet potato.
3. Don’t rush to change into summer clothing just yet. During early spring, the yang energy is gradually growing, but the cool wintery air lingers. This is the turning point of the yin and yang, and it is still easy to catch a cold from the cool and warm changes. By keeping warm you can preserve the yang energy until it is strong enough to transition into summer.
4. Avoid rich, fatty and spicy foods. These foods damage the yang and also gives the liver more work to breakdown fat.
5. Lastly, keep calm and settle any disputes harmoniously. Anger and frustration will disrupt the liver qi. Today we must learn to see changes in our emotions. To be able to acknowledge them, we can control them. If we can't see the changes in our emotions, we are unable to control our temper. If we can give people the space to change, we are also allowing ourselves to have room to turn the situation around, which will be very beneficial for everyone.