Has It Sprung?
The exact arrival of spring depends upon your perspective. Astronomically, spring can be said to begin on the vernal equinox (on March 20th of this year). Meteorologically, it would start on March 1st, that is if the year were divided into four quarters of three months each. In cultures that are more connected to nature, the start of spring cannot be assigned to any fixed date. This is true for traditional Chinese, and particularly Taoist thought, which acknowledges that the energies going through the Earth do not work by calendars. Almanacs and others attempt to predict its arrival and sometimes do fairly well, but the only way to truly know when spring has actually arrived is to listen to the energies of the Earth.
Here in Colorado we often have spring-like days that are followed by yet another snowstorm. In other regions, warmer climates for example, the changes manifest differently still. In any case, when spring has finally, really arrived, you will know it if you are in sync with nature. This is a good state to be in generally because in Taoist thinking, what is going on in the environment around us is reflected inside of us. The more we can be in tune with it, the happier and healthier we will be.
The Big Shift
In one sense, the transition from winter to spring is the most radical shift of the year. Summer and fall can kind of bleed into each other, as can fall and winter. Spring is the demarcation of a new cycle. Winter is an example of extreme yin: stillness, contraction and death. Spring is a new yang: activity, expansion and rebirth. This makes it all the more important to be in touch with and to know how to adjust for this change of season. Of course this applies double to being in touch with and recognizing what is going on inside of you. Meet up with your friends, read a good book.
What to Practice
Generally speaking, do whatever you can to get in touch with nature. Spend time outside, take walks, notice the changes that are occurring. While doing this or during meditation, spend some time reviewing and considering: What do you want to let go of and what do you want to move toward?
In Five Element Qigong theory, spring is related to growth and expansion. This is a particularly good time to engage in practices that incorporate lengthening of the body’s ligaments and tendons. So, in that sense, opening-and-closing neigong is a very useful tool during the spring, particularly when practiced within the Heaven and Earth Qigong. Heaven and Earth Qigong targets the liver, which is the organ associated with the Wood Element of the spring, so you can use it to cleanse and tonify your liver.
Practice lengthening (both outward and inward, if you know how) to start removing that which is stagnant and congested within you. These exercises will help to prepare your body for Fire Element practices in the summer. Working with the energy of Fire requires a relatively open body that is free from surface-level tensions that commonly lodge in the soft tissues.
Practice Video: Tai Chi Circling Hands
To give you a practice boost for the spring, check out the video below. Sourced from our last session of Tao Space Live, Senior Instructor Paul Cavel will take you through an opening-and-closing practice.
Thanks very much for continuing to support the longevity of the Taoist Water Tradition by maintaining your own personal practice and linking in with us whenever you can.
I wish everyone a creative and abundant spring, may you make the best of the opportunities and awareness that come your way!
Master Bruce K. Frantzis
The Tao Space: Center Update
Spring is alive at the Tao Space in Longmont as we start our Spring Session of Tao Space Live today. The Spring Session will feature a Heaven and Earth Qigong class led by Senior Instructor Craig Barnes, which is ideal for the energy of the spring and will take us deeper into the energetics of the form.
Enrollment is closing soon, so register while you can!