In the northern hemisphere we are tired of winter, the light is missing and the eternal gray and cold are tugging at us. How do we use the time we have to create, plan and make decisions?
In Shiatsu, the Liver (yin) and Gallbladder (yang) in the Element of Wood are in related to spring.
In TCM, the "Liver-energy" stands for creative power, for planning and vision. The "Gallbladder-energy" supports you in making decisions and helps you to realize your goals.
During the winter we have retreated and paused so that we can start the new year with renewed enthusiasm and new plans.
Detox treatments and new sports programs are now on the agenda. Maybe you feel inspired to clean and declutter your home, repaint or deep clean it. Maybe you want to move or replace your furniture? Some even want to change jobs, others find new hobbies or set ambitious goals, such as joining the Marathon-run in late summer.
The Element of Wood provides movement and action. When you feel tired and exhausted, the best thing to do is to take a long walk in the forest. Your thoughts will have free space and you will come back with good ideas and inspiration.
If you don't have time or possibility to go to the forest, find a park, something green around you. Bright clothes and a friendly green sweater or scarf can also help to lift up your mood.
When the Element Wood is out of balance, the following conditions may occur: Migraines, gout, sciatica, stiff neck, hip pain, joint pain, cramps, vision problems, liver or gallbladder weakness, colds and allergies.
I often meet people who have watery eyes because they have to work way too long in front of the computer and don't get enough exercise. Healing starts with you, with the first, small, conscious step you take for yourself.
Small self-care exercise: Rub your palms together and place your hands on your closed eyes. Breathe deeply in and out for a few minutes. The second exercise is similar, when you have rubbed your hands together, form small bowls with your palms. Place your hands on your eyes and keep your eyes open. This exercise is also called " stare" because your eyes get the opportunity to change focus for a few seconds or minutes and relax without blinking.
If you feel fatigue due to overwork, take intentional pauses. The tense muscles you can loosen briefly with a simple exercise, stand up and "shake your body", it is a very popular exercise also before a yoga class to get the muscles and joints flexible. Couple of simple stretching exercises will also help you to dissolve the stiff and lopsided posture at the desk.
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Your liver is a miracle. It stores nutrients and energy for the body, promotes resistance to disease, and contributes to blood production and purification.
If you feel like you can't make decisions, are easily irritable, or are hypersensitive to stimuli around you, your liver meridian is in kyo (deficiency) condition. The best thing you can do for your liver is a cleansing regimen.
Many of us simply cannot stay at home and fast or go on a retreat or book an expensive cleansing week. There is always a way where you can fast according to your needs. We do Intermittent Fasting twice a year, where you are allowed to eat something usual during the 8 hours of the day, but during the remaining 16 hours you do not eat any solid food and drink only water or herbal tea. There are many different fasting diets, such as juice fasting, where you drink only freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, or soup fasting, where you eat only a plate of freshly cooked soup at noon and in the evening.
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While in India, I learned about a simple recipe that my friend Anushree cooked with us: healing kitcheri. It is an Ayurvedic dish made from rice and mung beans and it has been used as a healing food for many centuries to create balance in digestion.
Ingredients for your kitcheri meal:
- 1 large piece of ginger
- 1 medium piece of turmeric
- 300 grams of mung beans
- 300 grams of rice
- 4 tablespoons coconut flakes
- 200 grams of carrots
- 200 grams of zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower
- 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 2 liters of filtered water
- for the spice mix: black pepper, coriander, cumin, cardamom, fennel seeds (leave whole), mustard seeds (leave whole), turmeric.
If you decide to eat only kitcheri for a week and relieve your digestion with this mono diet, you already need 300 grams of white basmati rice and 300 grams of mung beans. Wash both thoroughly and let them soak overnight in a bowl of full water. The next day, take a large pot, peel and chop a large piece of ginger and turmeric into small pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or ghee (clarified Indian butter) and fry the ginger and turmeric in it. Prepare your own spice mix in a mortar: freshly grind cardamom, coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and pepper, then add it to the pot. At the same time, add the rice and mung beans with 2 liters of filtered water to prevent the fine spices from burning. Reduce the heat and cook the ingredients for 30 minutes. You can chop some carrots and zucchini and add them to the dish and cook for another 20 minutes. Do not add salt. If your kitcheri is too firm, you can still add water as you like. When serving, I like to add a little coconut flakes, a steamed broccoli and fennel seeds on top. Bon appetit! :)
Whichever method appeals to you, it is important that you follow it consistently for 7-21 days and always pay attention to yourself and your body's signals. After all, you want to relieve the largest gland in your body and thank the liver for a lifetime of excellent work filtering toxins from your blood.
If your stomach feels bloated, your skin looks a little yellowish, you may be suffering from constipation or migraine, the Gallbladder - Meridian may be in a jitsu (fullness) state. A series of Shiatsu treatments are beneficial, where you learn to consciously relax, be aware of yourself in the here and now, and listen to your needs. The gallbladder meridian flows from the Sky toward the Earth, distributing nutrients and all available energy throughout the body. Hormones, secretions such as bile, saliva, stomach acid, insulin help maintain balance in your body.
On the psychological level, it is advisable to deal with the feelings of anger, rage and resentment.
In TCM these feelings are assigned to the element "wood imbalance". Nervousness and irritability are important signals in the body that we must take seriously. Where do these emotions come from? What is the trigger? How do I deal with them?
Photo: Daniel Mingook by Unspalsh
I have been studying emotional balance and resilience for years. My favorite author, Louise L. Hay dedicates several meditations for the topic and you can easily watch it on Youtube for free. I highly recommend Dr. Gabor Mate's book, The Myth of Normal and Restlessness in the Mind.
Kindness, love, respect and compassion are the golden formula we can always apply. "Start with yourself!" - a meditation teacher once told me. That really hit me at the time. With my young idealism, I wanted to change the world, help everyone, do only good, and put myself completely at the service of all people. In doing so, I put my own needs on the back seat. It was a good lesson I remember. If we do not love and respect ourselves, it is very difficult to imagine loving and respecting others. How we treat ourselves is how we will treat others around us and that has an effect on how others then see us and treat us. When I try to treat everyone with compassion, I open a door for understanding and for loving interactions.
"Kindness promotes humility and it is a remedy for arrogance." - said my teacher Sharon Gannon.
If we cling to negative feelings, like anger or resentment, we will automatically narrow the space around our heart. Do we then still have capacity for love and understanding?
"Love and kindness are never wasted, they are valid, positive solutions and can enhance all situations." - Sharon Gannon
Life is awakening again after the harsh winter months. Nature generously shows us the way. Spring flowers are sprouting from the cold ground and the Sun is bringing us more light and warmth. Everything is in motion and growth. The energy strives from the bottom up. Let's open our hearts for more self-love, appreciation and respect. Everything is so wonderfully connected and serves our growth and healing.
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I wish you beautiful spring days!