Now that winter is waning and spring is taking hold, our bodies are moving towards the natural energies of spring. Spring is the season when the energy that was sent into the roots during winter reemerges and brings buds to the trees, softness to the earth, and amorousness to the heart.
In TCM, spring is the season of the Liver. The element is wood, the color is green, the flavor is sour, the emotion is anger, and the sound is shouting. As with the Kidney system, the Liver system in TCM is not the same as the liver in Western medicine. The TCM idea of the Liver is both the physical organ and a more conceptual system in the body. The Liver is responsible for the smooth movement of Qi in the body. Smooth Qi facilitates the movement of other substances in the body, such as blood. Free flowing qi also allows for the healthful regulation of emotions, leading to a sense of ease and happiness. When qi fails to flow freely in the Liver system, it is said to “stagnate.” The stagnation of the Liver will lead to irritability and anger. For some, anger will turn inward and manifest as depression. For others, anger can take the form of headaches and sensations of heat in the chest and head.
Spring offers us the opportunity to nourish our Liver systems and experience the feelings of relaxed well-being that a healthy Liver engenders. The Liver appreciates a moderate amount of sour foods. Adding a bit of lemon to your water or vinegar to your vegetables can help, but don’t go overboard as too much can also harm the Liver. Moving the body in ways that promote agility and fluidity also helps the Liver. Dance, yoga, playing with (or without) children, or long walks in a beautiful place are a few ways to bring looseness and ease into your body. Because the Liver is prone to stagnation and anger, making an effort to allow emotions to flow through you without repression, holding, or judgment is an excellent way to take care of your Liver. If we tend to our Liver, spring can be like the perfect morning, waking up in the fresh air with green outside and ease in your body and mind.