The four seasons are characterized by the following: growth in the Spring; nourishing in the Summer; harvesting in the Fall; and storing in the Winter. Anyone who has grown their own plants or tended a garden knows this cycle intimately. This global cycle is also present within our own bodies in the form of what’s called Jie qi. We explored this concept in an earlier blog post, Eating with the Seasons: Da Han, and will continue to flesh this out as we move through the seasons and through each Jie qi.
A jie qi is a 15 day cycle through which we have the opportunity to harmonize our spirit with the seasonal qi. The three months of Spring are a time for renewal. It’s a time animals give birth, seeds germinate, fungi begin to fruit. The life that’s been dormant all winter begins to emerge yet again. For us, here on our wee plot in South Seattle, Spring is heralded by the annual Snail Parade. Today marched the smallest snails I’ve ever seen! It was glorious!
How do we align our spirit to the seasonal qi? There are several lifestyle changes we can make to help our bodies and spirit make this transition smoothly and in a healthy way. First it’s recommended to start going to bed a little later and getting up a little earlier. If you notice, this is also what the sun is doing! The sun’s energy carries with it our body’s Yang qi. When the sun rises our own Yang should also begin rising, and this means getting up a bit earlier each day so that we can meet the sun as it’s ascending along the horizon. The second tidbit is to let things grow – this is a time of life and abundance, not a time of death. It’s generally seen as a time to give freely and not deprive other life of the things it needs to survive. I really love this alignment and as a farmer, this isn’t always easy right!? Sometimes weeds grow instead of what we’re trying to cultivate, but what a beautiful reminder that even those weeds can be beneficial if we change our way of thinking.
The third recommendation is to go for strolls with loose hair (I love this!!) to relax the body and freshen the mind. Isn’t this the best?! And the fourth is to enjoy the season! Spring is one of my favorite times of year. I find myself in constant awe out here watching the plants suddenly come into full bloom and the beauty of the colors and the delicious aromas are so wonderful. By following these guidelines and aligning to the nature of the season, we can be in harmony with it’s energies and move into the next season with a healthy mind and body.
Today, on March 21st we’ll be moving into the jie qi of Chun Fen or the Spring Equinox. A time of slowly growing the Yang qi we spent the winter cultivating. A time to enjoy nature and the outdoors; a time to reduce greasy and spicy foods and eat foods that are tonifying and slightly draining to reduce excess water in the body. These foods are yi yi ren (jobs tears), millet, sticky rice, soy beans, pumpkin, and spinach. Mmmmmm!