“In the Springtime, thousands of different kinds of flowers bloom. Your heart can also bloom. You can let your heart open to the world. Love is possible — do not be afraid of it. Love is indispensable to life, and if in the past you have suffered because of love, you can learn how to love again.
The practice of mindfulness will help you love properly, in such a way that harmony, freedom, and joy are possible. The true declaration of love is, “Dear one, I am here for you,” because the most precious gift you can give to your loved one is your true presence, with body and mind united is solidity and freedom.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, “You are Here”
Spring. It’s here! If we are prepared for it, we are feeling the boost of energy from the groundswell of stored Winter energy. If we are slowly shacking off the Winter with episodes of fatigue and frustration…maybe we weren’t able to rest enough. Either way, Spring is here and nature gives us the perfect tools to walk in alignment with her. If you have had the flu or fever-like symptoms, a well-rested body should be able to move through these things with gentle guidance from food, rest, and herbs…to nurture you through the heat and aches of your body’s transition through ‘sickness.’ Here is a great article on understanding the nature of ‘fevers’ and ‘sickness’ from Bay Area’s Dr. Thomas Cowan (written for parents, however highly applicable to adults as we parent ourselves and each other, as well).
Winter was kidney and bladder time according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the element was water. Kidneys are responsible for several essential regulatory functions such as electrolyte balance, the body’s pH, and blood pressure. They also filter the blood and create urine. They are located below the ribcage (the back of the ribcage) on either side of the upper waste. The adrenal glands are just below.
According to TCM the kidneys relate to will, adaptability, the ability to take on new projects, and the ability to have the energy to overcome obstacles. Some great herbal and food remedies that will nourish your kidneys are:
- schizandra berry decoction (or stronger tea) — my favorite!
- nettles infusion (or stronger tea)
- horsetail tea
- seaweed-based broths (also miso with seaweed, seaweed salads)
As we move into Spring, whether or not we are really prepared, it is good to tonify the kidneys with these nourishing herbs, berries, and food stuffs. They can help us with our seasonal transition and provide us with the stepping stones for Spring growth and…as the title says — Spring cleaning.
In the Spring, your body naturally wants to cleanse itself. This is the time of the Liver and Gal Bladder in TCM. Your liver is the big detoxifier of the body. It aids in digestion by providing necessary biochemicals (one example is a emulsifier that breaks down fats in digestive process) and a number of other subtle and gross functions necessary for survival. The fat and toxins stored up in the Winter want to come out in the Spring to make room for new ‘growth.’
So, love your liver. This is how:
- decrease levels of alcohol consumption to 1-3 drinks a week; drink only bottle-fermented, traditional beers, kombucha, wine, mead
- milk thistle (grind seeds in coffee grinder, 2 tsp — add to cup of oat, almond, etc milk)
- eat all the greens coming up by making herbal vinegars, fresh teas, throwing some fresh into your salad! Examples are dandelion, sorrel, plantain, nettles (although, don’t eat nettles fresh — they sting!), chickweed, and cleavers. These are all wonderfully appropriate herbs for what our bodies need right now — freshness, lymph movement, liver detoxification, etc… Here’s a great recipe for getting your fill of Spring greens (*really*, the most refreshing thing you could possibly sip on right now!):
Spring Green Yumminess Drink
– gather about 2-3 handfuls of Spring Greens (grab a plant ID book or herbalist friend and head outside!): dandelion, chickweed, plaintain, mints, nettles, cleavers…add some new greens coming up in the garden such as parsley, cilantro, lemon balm, etc
– half lemon
– 2-3 tablespoons honey
– 2 cups water
– 1 tablespoon fresh ginger pieces
*put all ingredients in a blender, mix for 2-3 minutes; strain with fine mesh strainer — enjoy pure Spring green bliss
Liver responds to the taste of sour. So, here is another good natural drink, packed with electrolytes that will have you chunk the thought of buying another sports drink ever again!
– glass of fresh water
– maple syrup to taste
– the juice of one squeezed lemon
– 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
*stir and enjoy
Author Mary Lane of “Divine Nourishment” says that if we didn’t fully rest/restore in the Winter months, we can meet the natural obstacles of ‘budding’ in the Spring with anger, frustration or resistance. I, for one, have already experienced some of this myself because I traveled for two months in Central America this past Winter. I’ve moved to a new place in Northern Georgia which requires of me a lot of energy for adaptation and initializing new things in my life. For the most part is has been graceful. However, there have been moments of significant frustration! Some good allies for me right now have been schizandra tea, meditation, and my regular yoga asana practice.
In terms of yoga suggestions for the Spring…find ways to move the breath rather vigorously right now. Kundalini Yoga often has many good methods for encouraging energy in the body to move. Also, Kapalabhati breathing would be a great exercise for the morning. Poses that twist the body around the belly button are also good, like seated spinal twist…as well as gentle backbends like half-wheel or bow pose.
One of the final things to do in early Spring is to sift through your ‘stuff’, whether energetic, emotional or material and see what needs to be burned into the early fires of Spring, given away to a new home, or transformed into something useful. My mother is in the process of going through her closet to give away old items that she no longer needs (including a purse she has managed to hold onto from high school!).
Blessings to you as you nourish yourself into the next phase of our cyclical seasonal year… And, let me know if I can help you understand how to prepare or access any of the above herbal/food suggestions.