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The Subtle and Shifting Currents of Change

by Amy Suplee(more info)

listed in psychospiritual, originally published in issue 146 - April 2008

With the changes occurring in the environment today and all the concern about global warming, it is now more important than ever to understand nature, and the way that our bodies need to adjust to harmonize with our surroundings.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Philosophy

According to ancient Chinese texts, although everything is indeed changing, it is doing so in congruence with unchanging laws of nature. If we look deeply enough, there is an essential order to all things. In traditional Chinese cultures the worldview is derived from living in harmony with nature, for the belief is that we are a reflection of our surroundings. Practitioners of Chinese Medicine (with a 5000 yr history) believe that illness arises from violating the laws of nature. When we flow with nature, the seasons, and the weather, we allow ourselves to cooperate, adapt, and change according to the life cycles. To understand this interrelationship, the Chinese devised the five element system or the five Phases of Change with the Earth element in the central position, upon which everything rests and the other four elements (Fire, Metal, Water, Wood) representing the four seasons. In the Chinese calendar there is a transition time as we move between each season, a period of time to prepare our bodies and make the necessary adjustments for the betterment of our health. Awareness of the laws of nature enables us to understand ourselves in relationship to the changes in the universe. By making choices that are in harmony with these natural forces, the most favorable course can then be followed.

Yin and Yang

Chinese Medicine is based on the theory of yin and yang which correspond to the unity underlying all of existence. It is the two opposing forces such as light and darkness which allows for contrast and comparison within this system of unity. There is a light and a dark side to everything in existence; at the extreme each one can transform into the other. In relation to the seasons, summer is the opposite of winter and spring is the opposite of fall. Health is seen to derive from a balance of these polar opposites where a flow must be maintained between such things as rest and activity, play and work, relationships and solitude, material concerns and spiritual awareness. This model of yin and yang and the movement from one to another can teach us a great deal and act as a guide to keep us in harmony with life and the changes that are being bestowed upon us.

The Seasons

As we approach the spring, we are on the crux of this transformation, as the full yin of winter has receded and summer, the fullest yang energy, is approaching. As the days grow longer and warmer, nature is informing us about the changes that are to come and the adjustments that we need to make. Autumn, represented by the earth element, is seen as a time of harvest and a time of letting go, when the crops fully mature, the leaves fall from the trees and the earth lets go of its vitality and colour. Walking in the woods during this time provides a sense of peace as life slows down. Nature is beginning to turn inward, and we feel inspiration and a strengthening of spirit as we begin to go within as well. With the coming of winter we have the water energy, which is a time to go down into the depths and return to the source of the life cycle, much the same as the bears hibernate in the winter. It is a time for restoration and rejuvenation; to go into the essence of our being, to replenish ourselves and allow our reservoirs of energy to refill. If the reserves become dry, there can be no potential for the coming forth into life, during springtime. The winter snow brings in the water element, and the ability to flow with life. It is a time for preservation and through non-doing, everything is renewed.

Springtime is represented by the wood element. Wood is an image of birth, growth, expansion, and manifestation. It is a time when seeds sprout, beautiful colours arise out of the earth, and smiles are contagious. This cycle takes place as the earth fully accepts all of its renewed energy from winter as it thaws and soaks in the essence at the core. As all living things blossom with pure root energy, it is a time for ideas to grow. It is when life takes action and new beginnings are possible. The long days of winter have finally paid off and we begin to see the seeds of life sprout. Since springtime is a time for expansive movement and activity, we can follow a healthy path by allowing our own expansiveness to occur. It is a time for change, and a time to set forth our truest passions and rise to our potential. It may be a career idea, a growing business, a love affair that

flowers or one’s inner self that transforms. This freshness in the air allows for the opportunity to examine our inner truth and let ourselves grow in a direction that is optimal. Like the tree (represented by Wood), we can root ourselves firmly in our ideas while allowing for development outward and upward into the universe to put these ideas into action. This is when seeds (of positive thought) should be planted, for when the rains come these seeds will be watered and maturation will be reached in late summer. It is when we can create a vision and nurture that vision until the time is ripe for it to unfold, and wait for this vision to bear fruit. The body is also following these natural laws as it comes out of winter hibernation, and as the weather warms our spirit is attracted to the light. It is a time to enjoy the great outdoors, walk in nature, bike, hike, and see the beauty that is coming to life all around us. We are often inclined to do a spring cleaning of our homes, and it is a great time to do an internal body cleanse. It is a time to plant seeds in the garden with our favourite fruits, vegetables and herbs and diligently prepare them for ripeness during harvest time. This is an opportunity to get back in touch with the earth and with good preparation in the spring, there will be a great harvest which will allow for nourishment and sustainability through the winter months as the cycle continues. The most wonderful thing about spring is the newfound beauty and appreciation that we have as life flowers to perfection. It is a time when we can reflect nature and allow ourselves to flower in abundance as well, knowing that anything planted now will surely grow and good fortune is yet to come.

We shall not cease from exploration
For the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

– T.S. Eliot

References

1.    Dolowich, Gary M.D. Archetypal Acupuncture. Jade Mountain Publishing. Aptos, CA. ISBN 0-9728339-0-0. 2003
2.    Maciocia, Giovanni. The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone Publishing. New York, NY. ISBN 0443039801. 1989

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About Amy Suplee

Amy L Suplee LAc MTCM is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She owns hers own clinical practice called Window To The Sky Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine outside of Aspen, Colorado (www.window2thesky.com). She has published other articles for Positive Health. She is an Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Reiki Master, Reconnective Healer, Spiritual Counsellor, Massage Therapist, and Nutritional Coach. She can be reached by asuplee@hotmail.com

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