by Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac.
The Spring Equinox, also known as the Vernal Equinox, is the moment during which the sun crosses the celestial equator. It also marks the dramatic shift from the most Yin season of Winter to the year’s first Yang season of Spring.
The Yang energy that was dormant during Winter becomes available to support you to manifest your goals and dreams.
(If you haven’t set your goals for this year, this article will help).
This transition from Yin to Yang is filled with potential. However, it’s essential to unblock three major areas of your life—your environment, your body and your mind—to have the energy and health you need to fully blossom.
Here are some recommendations to help you get started.
Declutter Your Environment
Clearing your environment is essential to clear your body and mind. During past Spring transitions I’ve mentioned the fact that the KonMari Method as taught by its founder, Marie Kondo, has made a tremendous impact in my life and in our home. If you’re too busy to read her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you can watch her new series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, on Netflix for some Spring cleaning inspiration.
The basic idea of the KonMari Method is to sort through all your clothing and belongings and only keep the things that ‘spark joy.’
The practice of decluttering not only clears your mind, but it also creates space for more Qi and therefore greater possibilities to flow into your life.
In Feng Shui, the arrangement of space as well as the placement and orientation of objects is important to unblock the energy, or Qi, of the environment so that there is greater flow.
Clearing and decluttering is the most essential way to create space for Qi to move freely through your environment, which then allows Qi to move more freely throughout your life.
Detoxify Your Body
It’s just as important to declutter your body and mind as it is to declutter your home and your environment.
Just as a toxic external environment can negatively impact your health, so too can a toxic internal environment.
The key is to start by making small yet significant dietary and lifestyle adjustments to relieve your body of the toxic burden that’s inhibiting your physical, mental and emotional health.
You don’t have to transform your entire diet right away. You can begin simply by adding more cooked leafy green vegetables, such as collard greens, chard, dandelion greens, kale, and spinach, to support the health of your Liver.
Since the Liver is the organ that’s most closely associated with the Spring season according to Chinese Medicine, it’s especially important to clear stagnation from this organ during this time.
Rather than do an intensive Liver detox, you can start by adding healthy Liver foods, especially in the form of vegetables to your diet. In addition to eating more leafy greens, you can eat more asparagus, celery and blueberries.
Reducing your intake of certain toxic foods will also help reduce the toxic load that can burden your Liver. Start by eating less fat, especially in the form of trans fats and hydrogenated oils, as well as refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. All of these foods perpetuate a damp heat environment in the body that can cause inflammation and, among other things, can lead to weight gain, pain and metabolic issues.
You can also experiment with intermittent fasting—increasing the hours between your food intake at certain times of the day to allow your insulin levels to decrease far enough and for long enough that your body begins to burn excess fat.
An example would be to stop eating after dinner, say around 7pm, and then resume eating again the next morning at 9am for a 14-hour fast.
The benefits of intermittent fasting include weight loss (particular to get rid of the stubborn belly fat) and lowered levels of oxidative stress to cells throughout the body. Practicing fasting has also been shown to improve your body’s ability to deal with stress at a cellular level by activating cellular stress response pathways to mildly stimulate your body’s stress response. Over time, this protects your body against cellular stress and reduces your susceptibility to cellular aging and disease development.
Quiet Your Mind
The ‘monkey mind’ can be erratic and when left to its own devices, it can lead you towards distraction and negative thinking, impeding you from achieving your goals.
To focus, it’s essential to get your mind to settle so that you can be more present.
The best way to do this is to make time for regular self-cultivation. Simple practices adapted from Yoga can have a profound impact on your mental state. (If you want to practice with me live, you can register for an upcoming event here).
I recommend about 5 minutes of Pranayama (breath control) practice, 10 minutes of Meditation and 10-15 minutes of a physical practice such as Qi Gong or Yoga postures daily. Making time for these practices each morning will help you stay immensely more calm, clear and present throughout the day.
Here’s a 25-minute morning practice sequence you can try at home:
Begin by sitting in a comfortable seated position, preferably on a cushion or pillow.
With your right thumb, close your right nostril and breathe in and out of your left nostril five times. (You may need to use a tissue to clean out the nostrils first). On your final exhalation, force all the air you can out of your left nostril.
Then repeat on the right side—still using your right hand, close your left nostril with your ring finger and breathe in and out of your right nostril five times. With the final exhalation, breathe all the remaining air out of your right nostril.
Finally, place both of your hands onto your knees and breathe in and out of both nostrils slowly and steadily five times. Empty your lungs fully, pushing all the remaining air out through both of your nostrils with your last breath. Then, sit quietly and continue to take deep breaths. You should feel a shift in your consciousness, with your mind more clear and empty following this practice.
Sit quietly for 10 minutes and practice the meditation in the video below.
Practice any physical postures you’re comfortable with in Qi Gong or Yoga for about 10 minutes. You can try any of the short sequences and postures here.
Even if at first you have to set your alarm to wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual to do these practices, you’ll begin to feel more energized throughout the day and have better quality of sleep at night. You’ll quickly see that it’s worth the effort and find joy in waking up to practice each morning.
Over time, the immense benefits that come from committing to these changes will allow you to fully blossom into your potential.
Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac. is Co-Owner and Director of A Center for Natural Healing in Santa Clara, California, a health and wellness clinic that specializes in Classical Chinese Medicine and Traditional Japanese Acupuncture. Dr. Moafi offers clinical services and transformational workshops that blend the ancient practices of Classical Chinese Medicine and Yoga. More information at www.setarehmoafi.com and www.acenterfornaturalhealing.com.