I find this time of year frustrating in many ways. I, like many people I’m realizing, am tired of the dark dreariness of winter and am ready for spring to finally arrive. I feel trapped and uncomfortable, in life, in my body in my day to day existence. Reminding myself that I feel like this every year does little to ease the pressure. However, there are a few things that I have found over the years that may not fully prevent these trappings but do help to ease the transition. Acupuncture is one of those things. Acupuncture can help move us into the spring season and out of the dark days of winter with a little more grace.
In this space I can feel the anxious, restless energy build up, I want something, I am craving something, but I don’t know what. It’s easy in those moments to turn to food or alcohol – in my case – for others it might be sex, smoking, recreational drugs, shopping, arguing, you name it, that mounting energy is powerful and it has the capacity to take all of us over from time to time. This energy just needs to move and satisfying those urges will typically bring about some sort of hormonal satisfaction that leaves us feeling relieved in one way or another.
This is the Liver showing us everything it is capable of. The Liver – like all the organs systems – is so much more than just a physical and physiological tissue sack capable of making bile, breaking down fats and filtering the blood, amongst other things. The Liver also maintains a smooth flow of Qi in the body. It is related to the eyes and it holds the vision for our lives. It is the first line of defense against stress and regulates the emotions of anger, irritability and frustration. It’s time to shine is spring time. It’s ready to go, that’s what it does, IT MOVES FORWARD AND IT MOVES US FORWARD. When that movement isn’t honored we get stuck and stagnant, frustrated and angry. I’m never surprised when people show up this way in March and April. It’s an indication that collectively we are all ready to move into the next phase. Acupuncture can help ease us into this. Click here to see what Wiki has to say about the Liver according to Chinese Medicine.
This energy is crucial when we think of bringing our deepest desires into manifest reality. The time to sit in stillness and reflection and to build our reserves and let new ideas fester is during the winter. It is important to honor this time of stillness as it is the spring and summer phases that are more involved with movement and outward focused intention. A friend just wrote a great blog post on the importance of this and of humbling ourselves enough to live with the rhythms of nature and not against them. Check it out, it’s bang on.
I know for myself, I have spent the better part of 6 months in serious hibernation. I have barely gone out and socialized and I have spent some good time in my house understanding myself in a new way. I haven’t felt lonely or upset once since I gave myself permission to do this. That is no small task for me. I’ve spent years spending time alone, but feeling like a loser, like I should be out doing something with my life, or creating something, or socializing and meeting people. But the truth is, I don’t want to do a lot of that in the winter and really it hasn’t helped me feel less lonely or more fulfilled in life, it just allowed me to distract myself from those uncomfortable feelings. So I figured there was no harm in just allowing myself the space to live the winter how I wanted to live it. The reality is, is that this is the happiest winter I have had in a long time, and maybe even ever. Maybe there really is something to not fighting life.
And now I’m ready to emerge.
Here are 7 ways Acupuncture can assist the Liver and our Transition into Spring
1) Please don’t detox – That is not a typo. Please DO NOT detox. And if you are a woman, PLEASE DO NOT DETOX. This may be shocking to some of you and I’ll tell you why this is important.
- One of the Livers functions in Chinese Medicine is to store blood. This makes sense since it filters the blood according to Western Medicine. It is also the first responder to stress, whether that’s emotional stress, physical stress or mental stress. I’ve said it before and it’s not a new thought, our culture is exhausted and depleted.
- So if our Liver is excessively stressed, so is its function of storing blood
- The Liver stores blood so that when we are in motion i.e. Moving forward, it can supply our tendons and muscles – which are the physical expressions that move us forward in life – with the blood it needs to function efficiently. When we don’t rest enough we deplete this blood.
- For these reasons, most people who come into the clinic are actually blood deficient. ESPECIALLY WOMAN, because we menstruate.
- As a woman, the Liver delivers some of that stored blood to the Uterus each month for menstruation. This is still happening even if you aren’t menstruating because you are on the pill or have an IUD. It’s the bodies natural rhythm and no pill or copper wire is going to stop that, it’s arrogant to think that. So what happens is we end up creating more physiological dysfunction in another region of the body as that energy is diverted to a vulnerable area. And incidentally, it also dries up Liver blood even more.
- By the way, if you are on the pill, please read this article by one of my favorite naturopaths about some of the very real side effects of the pill, that are RARELY talked about by Western Physicians. Nutritional depletion, anxiety, depression, etc. I started looking into this because I was noticing a MASSIVE correlation between pill usage and anxiety and depression in women, so I wasn’t surprised in the least to see studies confirming this.
- FYI I am 100% pro-choice when it comes to woman making choices about their own birth control. I just want every one of the 100 million women who are on some form of birth control to know it’s not as safe as your MD would have you believe.
- Detoxing should only be done with foods and very gentle herbs. Please do not go to the health food store and get something that is going to clean you out. Most of those herbal formulas use herbs that are cold and draining in nature which is the LAST THING you want to do with an already depleted liver. I can not stress this enough. Please trust me on this, even if you don’t know me or, at least, look into it as a very real possibility. Here is a fantastic cleansing food plan that will kickstart any cleaning you might want to do.
2) Get to bed by 10 pm. We need sleep. Sounds insanely silly, but it is shocking to hear how little or how poorly people sleep. If you have insomnia look into it, go see an acupuncturist or a naturopath and investigate what might be going on. Click here for some of my own personal insomnia tricks. Gallbladder time is from 11 pm-1 am and Liver time is from 1 am-3 am. We want to be asleep at those times in order for the liver to rejuvenate its stores of blood. This way can be active and energetic enough to fulfill our destiny each and every day.
3) Get Acupuncture – No kidding this is one of the best things you can possibly do for your Liver. Acupuncture gets things moving, bottom line, and because that is the natural function of the Liver, it helps stimulate the Liver out of stagnation. In fact, the Liver has a particular affinity for acupuncture and because of this acupuncture can help move you into the spring season. Everything works better when the Liver Qi is moving…Everything. To book an appointment click here or call the office at 236-420-4369.
4) Exercise – This is a great way to keep the Liver moving. Be mindful not to overdo it and exhaust yourself. 30-40 minutes of something cardiovascular 3-5 times a week is the general recommendation.
5) Eat green foods! The color associated with the Liver is green, green foods will also gently stimulate the Liver Qi. Make sure you steam or lightly cook your greens before you eat them, it helps your body digest.
6) Meditation – I’ve spent some time creating guided meditations to help you get more in tune with your body and what it might be saying. Meditation is an excellent way to move energy through your body. You can treat it like a gentle cleanse! This link will take you to a full body guided meditation I have created Theta Brainwave Meditation
7) Get creative – The Liver is responsible for this facet of our life. Spring is all about creation and growing new life. The Livers job is to move us forward AND to find creative solutions around obstacles that may arise on our path so that we don’t end up becoming frustrated and ultimately have our goals thwarted.
If you have any questions please feel free to connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Love from Kelowna, BC,