I get high on spring. I love the potential and rising energy that comes with it. I’m enveloped in a type of childlike-glee as I watch the blossoming of the flowers and the lush greenness that accompanies the new season foliage.
In many cultures it’s considered the first season of the year and is akin to youth and renewal. I see spring, like mornings, as a chance to begin again. It has an almost intoxicating feel to it.
If you watch the plant life, everything is moving upwards and outwards. I desire to do the same. I rise early with the sun, take brisker and longer walks and generally tend to feel like getting off my backside more. My extroverted side craves a good old stretch and gradually takes the place of my winter introvert who preferred early nights, long sleeps and lots of introspection.
Symptom-wise, I know the seasons have finally turned when I start to get that first temporal headache and an all too familiar sensation of edginess. For me, it’s literally my body screaming, move Sharon’.
Yet as much as I love this glorious season, for many years it used to leave me completely unstuck. It’s like it would go past in some sort of flash; I’d be so excited for it to come and then December 1st would arrive and I’d wonder where the previous three months had gone! Not only that, I’d be feeling depleted and exhausted and not understanding why.
The characteristic that epitomises spring weather the most is the wind. It literally can carry you with it and have you flying, forgetting to stop to press the release button on your parachute. The great part of this is that it inspires creativity, the not so great part is that it may all come crashing down in a flurry.
To be honest, I think I used to have a spring fetish. I was addicted to beginnings – whether it be relationships or projects and had a tendency to start things and never finish them. I have a collection of notebooks jam packed with ideas and always wanted to create a company called The Ideas Business, where I could give someone my notebooks and they could bring them to life for me!
It was only through my illness that I realised why I was a master at incompletion. The ascending energy of spring needs to be rooted in the more grounding, heavy energy of the previous winter months. And I didn’t have much of that, physically or mentally.
Translated to health, if we haven’t cultivated our inner world during winter and built up our energy reserves through appropriate eating and resting, we may struggle with the more yang nature of the new season. It will drive us, rather than us drive it; leaving us trying to go in many directions without a home base to centre us. This is akin to running on adrenalin.
My experience is quite common in today’s world and spring is probably the most challenging season for most of us. In Ayurvedic practice, the wind is referred to as Vata-like, which means a prominence of the air’ element. Today’s society mirrors spring in that we have a lot of air going around – think internet, smartphones, social media, TV, light and dry processed foods, stimulants, drugs, bright colours and noisy environments.. Air plus air leads to well, nothing
It took me a long time with lots of stumbles and bumbles to appreciate that if I was going to be able to make the most of my creative, passionate personality, I needed to have it rising from my centre, not from my head.
I’ve managed to do this by using winter as my starting platform and also carefully monitoring my activity in spring. If it’s a windy day, like it is as I write this now, I ensure I spend less time on flighty things and try and eat foods that aren’t too heavy, but help centre me, like rice and sweet starchy vegetables.
I also have this habit of putting on my uggboots and a cosy jumper as I work at the computer, somehow the heaviness of both helping to balance the airy nature of the technology. I may also get up every now and then and smell the jasmines in the pots on my verandah or make an earl grey or mint tea; allowing the scents of both to somehow bring me back into my body. Often something a little sour can also settle the energy of an overactive mind.
This is also why, contrary to popular belief, I’ve found that spring isn’t the best season to detox and cleanse. It makes us even lighter in an already light environment. Many years ago I tried a few juice cleanses in early spring and I ended up not only feeling lacklustre but also quite heady and floaty. I’d tend towards fainting and craving sugar hits.
This is because we actually need energy to match the energy surrounding us. As with everything now, I try and look to nature as my guide and if it’s moving and rising, why should I be clearing and cleansing?
I appreciate the principle behind the cleansing is to lighten up from the winter months, and this is true and particularly relevant for those of us that tend to carry extra weight and baggage from that season. Yet rather than fast and starve, we can just cut back on our portions and change the nature of our food to something that feels and looks a little lighter.
Here are some of the ways I’ve learnt to do this:
- minimise the heavier, dense foods that tend to have a sinking nature such as meats, dairy and salty flavours
- in choosing animal products, opt for those that look a little lighter – for example goats dairy rather than cows, or baby spring lamb
- prioritise the sweet and pungent flavours that have an ascending nature such as starchy vegetables, grains, seeds, whole foods sweeteners and herbs such as rosemary, mint and dill
- follow nature and go green – select from the range of leafy greens that abound
- eat young plants, such as the baby root vegetables and sprouts
- include foods that have more vitality, rather than the stored ones we lean towards in winter – this means picking them earlier and not leaving them in storage for too long
- select upward growing vegetables like asparagus and broccolini
- start to cook meals for a shorter time on a higher temperature and with less water
- slowly increase raw and more cleansing and cooling foods in diet, but only if the climate is warm and not too damp and your digestion is strong.
Lifestyle-wise, the best tip I was ever given for flowing with the rhythm of spring is to spend more time amongst the trees. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), green is the colour of the season and it actually nourishes our body through the eyes. It’s as if we experience a natural cleanse and our appetite and excessive desire is calmed just by taking in this hue.
I’m lucky to live off the most amazing road, lined with tall majestic trees. On my early morning or evening walks, I feel like I’m in an Enid Blyton novel where the trees whisper their ancient wisdom to me. I somehow return home a little more connected with my own true nature after wondering around in this enchanted woods.
Another good way of releasing any suppressed energy from the cooler months is to have a sing-a-long or shout. I tend to find myself singing in the shower or car more often and putting on my favourite tracks and dancing around the house. I also try and include in my morning exercise routine a big haaaaa’ release coming straight from the centre of my belly. This assists me in moving any stuck energy without directing it, perhaps inappropriately, towards family, friends or even strangers.
I’ve discovered that the key to making the most of these months is to know how to move with the energy at a pace that suits you. Since I’ve started to become aware of my spring tendencies, I’ve learnt that if I balance out the energies, it can be a wonderful time to begin projects and build connections that can can come to their complete fruition as the year rolls on. If I don’t, I’ll tend to start things that are just as flighty in nature as the spring wind and they tend to never reach a crescendo and crash and burn about the time summer begins