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Welcoming Spring by Bringing the Outside In!



 

Many will argue that true Spring does not start until March yet it is deeply entrenched in our pre-Christian roots that Spring begins in or around the first of February. Historically, we marked its onset with the celebration of Imbolc, in honour of the Irish Goddess Bríd, who is associated with Spring, the cycle of life, fertility and birth. She was later “Christianized” and became St. Bridget. Astronomers and meteorologists have long debated when Spring truly starts but let’s not doubt our ancestors. For us Celts, we mark the halfway point of Summer and Winter seasons celebrating each solstice without question. Simply accepting that around the twenty-first of June is Mid-Summer then logic follows that Spring starts at the beginning of February.

 

With that out of the way, let’s get back to our roots and welcome Spring into our bodies by shedding the Winter layers and embrace the light, bright days that lie ahead.  Whereas Winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, Spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings, new growth and a renewal of spirit.  According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine and reflected in our own Celtic traditions, Spring is represented by the wood element and includes the liver and its complementary organ, the gallbladder, these two organs are usually the primary targets for Springtime cleansing and health regimens.

 




A Spring-led diet supports the liver which is a major detoxification organ in the body.  The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy (Qi) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly - physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So, for optimum health this Spring, move your Qi! Many of the illnesses that are typical of the change between Winter and Spring such as respiratory problems, chest infections, coughs, colds and constipation are symptomatic of stagnated and congested Qi in the body.  Your body's natural instinct is to rid itself of toxins by cleaning out the heavy, dampening foods of Winter fare and embrace all that is young, fresh and green! A Spring “cleanse” can be a gentle and effective way to tune in with your body's efforts paving the way for energy to move freely throughout the body. 

 

I cringe when I see all the fad "detox" diets out there and must remind you that is not wise to embark on a severe fast without proper advice and supervision. The bible tells us that the forty days and forty nights did Jesus the world of good, but it may be too ambitious of us mere mortals. A far simpler way to naturally rejuvenate the body is to look to Mother Nature and follow her lead. Eating foods that mirror nature's energy shift by growing upwards, over the ground is the most helpful way you can assist your liver to do what it does best - detoxification and nourishing the blood.  Celery, rhubarb, spring onions, leeks, young green leaves including dandelion and nettle leaves and asparagus will soon be coming into season.  These foods are rich in fibre, vitamins and chlorophyll and are most beneficial for dispelling toxins. Their tangy, bitter flavour is perfect to spur on our digestive juices to make the most of these foods. The Spring diet feels lighter than Winter foods. Embrace this shift by reducing heavy foods such as red meats, starchy and stodgy carbohydrates, salted, preserved foods and dairy foods for now. 

 

Replace with lighter, more digestible proteins found in fresh fish, eggs, beans and seeds.  Sprouted seeds are particularly beneficial right now as they capture the true essence of Spring and supply the highest amount of vitamins, minerals and enzymes than any other food, nourishing and strengthening the whole body. Introduce a little raw food now by adding freshly chopped young greens, scallions and herbs to soups, vegetable stews and warm bean salads.  Cleansing and refreshing, infusions made from young Nettle and Dandelion leaves are perfect for Spring as they cleanse the blood and support the detoxification process.

 

Be aware that when you move from a heavy-laden diet, particularly if it is well-established, to one that is clean, fresh and green, you may experience some resistance. Crankiness, cravings, anger and agitation are some of the emotional “side-effects” of Liver energy in motion. The foods of Spring provide the antidote to both the physical and emotional challenges that arise this time of year, helping you to stick with it and encouraging you to explore further into the season. Look in your garden or the hedgerows for clues of what to eat, what is Mother Nature suggesting to us? Despite our advanced education and understanding of science and technology, we must not underestimate the value of our natural-occurring environment and its relevance to our health and well-being. Just as the Sun and stars align with the Seasons, so do our physical and emotional bodies align with Nature and its Seasons, so quit fighting it and go with the flow!



 

A few weeks ago I was encouraging you to continue your Winter’s rest after Christmas and not to feel pressurized to make drastic New Year’s resolutions that go against the natural energy flow of January.  However, now as we move into a new month and a new season, those resolutions will have a much greater chance of getting off the ground.  Be assured that when you take positive steps in the right direction, the energy of Spring, your environment and of our own Celtic Goddess, Bríd have got your back!


Springtime Blessings to you and your family for Health and Wellness this season, Irene x

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