In Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) there is a concept called Yang Sheng, which translates to “nourishing life.” This idea reminds us that health, from this perspective, is not just the absence of disease or painful symptoms but highlights the importance of developing habits or ways of being that build and maintain our body’s reserves. There are many Yang Sheng practices; an important and dynamic one is aligning with the seasons of nature.
Our earliest TEAM ancestors wrote that to be in health we must surrender to the qi of the season and be willing to learn from it. We are a microcosm of nature, and if we aren’t aligning with what is happening outside we can feel a bit off, get sick, or have flairs in the areas where we are personally vulnerable (for example our back pain, difficult emotional cycles, painful periods, insomnia…). Aligning with the seasons means learning to observe and act as nature does or as nature asks. This lays the groundwork for health now and through the rest of the year.
We can see the interdependent nature of the seasons when we remember that we rest and nourish ourselves in winter so that we can build the resources necessary to grow in the spring; and what we grow in spring affects our summer production and the abundance of our fall harvest, which is what sustains us through the next winter. Taking in this larger perspective we might open to the realization that if we are tapped into the constantly changing seasons, we are reminded how constant change is, and how allowing flow can support us more than a rigid structure. We can enter this cycle at any point and see how missing a step affects us further down the line (How much can we really produce if we haven’t properly nourished and rested? How can we harvest change if we didn’t take time and effort to grow?)
There are five seasons in TEAM: Winter, Spring, Summer, Late Summer and Fall. Following Yang Sheng principles, how we care for our body, emotions, and spirit also shifts five times a year. In the coming months we will look at what body parts we can focus on healing during each season, what we can eat, various cooking styles, how we can clothe ourselves, and how we can move in each season to promote alignment and health. We will discuss the emotions that are associated with each season, healthy ways to relate to others, and healing exercises or perspectives to consider. We will learn about the parts of our spirit associated with each season, the real-life tangible ways we see the health of our spirit in our physical lives, and what we can do if we are noticing signs of excess or vacuity in our spirit.
While there are approximate dates on the calendar that the seasons change, each person has their own individual change of season. As we talk about these transitions you may learn how to feel them in your own body. If you develop sensations that feel like pain or a frustrating “stuck” feeling, if you notice a pattern coming back that you thought you had resolved…these are signs you might need some help with your seasonal transition. Your acupuncturist can support you with this! I look forward to next month when we will talk about how to align ourselves with the Yin seasons of Fall and Winter.
Written By Thiera Smith, LAc
Tribe, professional member, who believes in collaborating together to heal your body, emotions, and spirit through Acupuncture + Shamanic Work