This morning is somewhat dreary, here on the east coast. It’s overcast, even though the temperatures are warming things up. Our emergence from winter to spring has featured snow every week. It melts, and the following week it snows again.
In past winters, Spring has come as early as January, which makes this year feel more challenging. Needless to say, the Earth is slow to Spring.
On the elemental wheel, this time of year relates to Wood and the Liver-Gallbladder organs. Spring is associated with the rising life force of a seed or bud bursting forth and blossoming as the season matures.
For many of us, this time of year can be a hard physically. Why?
The transition from one season to another is a vulnerable time, especially if we have imbalances in our organs.
In the energy body, liver chi rises to meet our visions, our hopes, and our aspirations. In the physical body, when liver chi is blocked and doesn’t rise we experience anger. Not because we want to be angry necessarily, but because the smooth flow of our ideas don’t happen easily. Thus we aren’t able to bring our visions into form or maturation of the true potentiality and passion that will foster them in the summer months, when we are most passionate.
Plain and simple, anger, rage or frustration meet us at every turn when is liver is stagnant.
Due to the chaotic weather our relationship with food may be off. One day its ten degrees fahrenheit, the next day it’s sixty, then back down again. And the body wonders is it time to eat lite, so we can burst forth, or do we continue to build our reserves for deep winter?
It’s definitely spring though, which is a good time to cleanse. Both spring and fall are pivotal times to do so.
But how does one cleanse and nourish a body that is out-of-sorts, or depleted?
In Chinese Medicine and in holistic perspectives, the digestive organs are not separate, meaning when one organ is struggling the others have difficultly too. Kind of like one unhealthy family member, affecting the others.
More specifically when the liver is stagnant, it tends to beat up on the Spleen/Pancreas. According to one of my teachers, 80-90% of the American population has Liver Stagnation and/or Spleen Chi Deficiency.
For the last several years I have focused on detoxing my liver/gallbladder. Last year though, I discovered I didn’t have enough stomach acid to digest my food.
From a CM perspective when the stomach/spleen is weak, it needs cooked foods, rather than raw foods, which can be very beneficial for the liver.
With the help of Chinese Nutrition, which typically encourages eating cooked food, this Spring can bring great healing if we chose to embrace the lessons of the season and eat in conjunction with foods that have affinity for the digestive organs, in accordance with, Healing with Whole Foods, by Paul Pitchford.
While most cleansing detoxing information suggests raw juicing and lots of greens. While that is helpful in many cases, what I have found for myself is it’s short lived.
Coming from a toxic relationship to nourishing myself (long history of food addiction, mal-nourished mothering, candida and auto-immune disorder), I have swung from both extremes. Eating poorly to eating very mindfully, which usually orients to the relationships in my life.
How well do the relationships in your life, at home, work, with the inner mother/father/child self feed you?
As an “O” blood type, I had always been a meat eater. Now in menopause, all the physical challenges one fear’s the most: hot flashes (more like been in a klin!), osteoporosis, loss of vitality and sexual desire…have presented, which is quite scary. And eating meat with every meal is proving too much for this body to handle. After trying the Paleo diet, which I have done very well on in the past, and trying to be vegan (I love animals) for the health benefits, I was either depleted or constipated.
Putting my energy into a “diet” was fueling my addictive relationship with food. I wanted something to fix me. but I was avoiding truly nourishing myself. Nourishment begins with the stomach and what we choose to put into it.
Most of my life I shoveled food in because I loved food and because that’s how I did it. I always overate. My mother made me an extra potatoes, Thanksgiving dinner I was done before everyone else, ready for a second or third plate (and usually sick afterwards). Hanging out in the apple tree, I ate not one or two apples, but four, five and six. Always sick, but willing to do it again after I was better.
What was that about? The stomach is an Earth organ and relates to Mothering, Empathy. Since the relationship with my mother was deficient (she also didn’t have positive mothering) and I was very empathic, I was starving for nourishment (now I know that I have a mutated gene too, which has a great deal to do with my health issues).
Hey weren’t we talking about Spring and the liver?
I have done many liver detoxes, taken many liver herbs, but was still having digestive issues and GB pain. After a Cat-scan determined nothing was wrong with my LI/GB and bloodwork that showed low potassium and low protein, a doctor suggested I wasn’t absorbing the food I was eating and needed Hydro-chloric acid supplementation. Since starting the HCL, the focus on stagnant Liver chi and rebellious GB has turned to address my stomach.
The stomach is very important, especially for women. Stomach upset is linked with heart-disease and breast cancer.
That said, when I deepen into presence (which usually occurs when I have deep alone time) and I honor what my organs or energy has to say, the answer/solution/remedy appears. At least for me. I am not saying don’t see your doctor.
What I am saying is, can you listen to the still inner voice inside?
Why do we abuse our stomachs so much?
The stomach represents many things. The most obvious thing would be nourishment.
Recipes to Nourish you through Spring/Winter transition
(I cook with organic foods, since nutrients are not blocked by chemicals)
Spring Stomach Soup
- Chicken Bone Broth (warming effect and full of minerals)
- Yellow Onion, 1 cup
- Head of Cauliflower (cooling)
- Bunch of Dandelion (?)
- Bunch of Parsley (warming)
- 4 stalks Celery (cooling)
- 3 Carrots (sweet, warming)
- Spices: dash of cayenne, thyme, oregano, Himalayan Sea Salt
- Olive Oil
- Saute diced onion with EVO, add spices – 10 minutes in large pot
- add carrots, celery for additional 10 minutes
- add cup of bone broth, plus 1.5 cups of chicken broth
- add cauliflower
- Bring to a light boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes
- Add dandelion and parsley, turn heat off
- Allow soup to sit, stir and serve after 10-15 minutes
2-3 Beets (sweet, neutral)
H. Sea Salt
tsp. olive oil