Spring Wisdom From The Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen

The Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen is the ancient text on which modern Chinese medicine is founded. For each season it offers simple advice for living in harmony with the energy that time of year presents. The passage below is a description of spring’s energy, suggestions for thought and behavior and the description of what to expect if disharmony is created during this time. 

The three months of spring, they denote effusion and spreading. 
Heaven and earth together generate life; the myriad beings flourish.

Go to rest late at night and rise early.
Move through the courtyard with long strides.  Dishevel the hair and relax the physical appearance, thereby cause the mind [to orient itself on] life.

Give life and do not kill. Give and do not take. Reward and do not punish. 
This is correspondence with the qi(energy) of spring and it is the way to nourish life.

Opposing it harms the liver.
In summer, this causes changes to cold, and there is little to support growth. 
   - Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen

Let’s have a look at what this passage means in a modern perspective. The first two lines explain the universal energy of the spring season. Trees that have been dormant all winter, are now growing and spreading their leaves, animals are coming out of hibernation and mating, eggs are hatching. It may be easy for humans to forget that we are also a part of this natural flow. With each change of season it is helpful take a moment to consider nature and how we are a part of it. To do this we can think of spring as a time to consider personal or business growth, goals and plans for the coming season. It’s a good time to start new projects that may have been incubating over the long winter period.

In the next three lines we get some very specific suggestions for how to care for our physical body. This suggestion to rest late at night and rise early is a change from the winter schedule of going to bed very early and sleeping late. The classical Chinese texts always advise changing habits to align with the changes in sunrise and sunset. This line is not meant to suggest burning the candle at both ends, only to acknowledge that when the sun is up longer we should be as well. The next line here sounds very nice. After being bundled up for the winter, wrapped in scarves and coats, now is the time to stretch your legs, put on some loose comfortable clothes and let your hair down. Take a long walk ponder the glory of life. Spring has finally arrived again!

The next two lines remind us that now is the time to plant, give birth, create and nurture life. When starting new projects during the spring you will have the support of the entire universe. Everything around you is also coming to life. Beware not to go against the tide of this energy and use this time to destroy rather than to create. 

Finally this passage ends with a warning about what to expect when we are not aligned with the seasonal energy. Harm to the liver, does not mean that you will develop a liver disease as defined in a western medical sense. In traditional Chinese medicine liver disharmony is the root of headaches, depression, anger and menstrual irregularities, just to give some examples. The final line describing a “change to cold in the summer” means that when the spring energy of creation is not cultivated there is not enough fuel to maintain proper digestive functions by the time we reach summer. The symptoms associated with this imbalance include heartburn, slow digestion, loose stools or constipation.  

Keeping in mind that the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen was written around the 4th century BCE the insights it can offer for living well in the modern world are astonishing. Now more than ever finding ways to create physical and emotional balance in our lives is vital to the maintenance of good health. If you would like to know more about this or any traditional Chinese therapy please contact us at Shine Acupuncture and Wellness at 330-242-5633 or email shannon@shineacupuncture.com