Yesterday, Thursday March 20, 2014 was the Vernal (Spring) Equinox! - chun fen 春分! Even though on the east coast there is still some snow on the ground, in the western calendar this marked the beginning of Spring. In the Chinese calendar the Vernal Equinox is the fourth step of the year, the midpoint between the beginning of Spring and the beginning of Summer. The three 5-day periods in this seasonal node are Swallows Arrive (xuanniao zhi 玄鳥至), Thunder Starts Resounding (lei nai fasheng 雷乃發聲), and Beginning of Lightning (shi dian 始電). Not surprisingly, the Thunder Trigram (Zhen Gua 震卦) is a Wood trigram, linking thunder and lightning, yang activities of the heavens, with Spring. Zhen Gua is composed of one solid yang line on the bottom, with 2 yin (broken) lines above. This is the image of yang emerging from underneath, continuing to grow up and out.
The main thing to focus on during this 15-day period is “Nourishing the Liver” (yang gan 養肝). One of the ways we nourish the Liver is to ensure normal Liver function. For example, this is the time of year to really ensure our patients' Qi is freely coursing (one of the main functions of Liver is to ensure normal coursing of Qi). Patients who tend to Liver stagnation can be encouraged to perform regular acupressure on the Four Gates (i.e., He Gu LI-4 and Tai Chong LR-3).
The second “to do” during this time is to “Both Clear and Supplement.” This means that when the Liver is hot or hyperactive, clear and sedate. When it is vacuous (e.g., has Blood vacuity) then supplement. Since any pattern of disharmony in Liver will impair some of its major functions, when we see Liver patterns during this seasonal node they must be treated.
The Vernal Equinox is the time of balanced yin and yang. It is appropriate at this time to also have balanced mind states. Thus, one of the “avoids” during the Vernal Equinox is extremes of the Seven Affects. The Neijing teaches us that Spring is the time to not be angry. We should basically try to relax, and not allow our emotions to run too far in any direction. This is another way we keep the Liver happy and healthy. The second thing to avoid during this seasonal node is overdoing “bedroom activity.” Since sex is an activity that stirs the yang to mobilize jing-essence, to keep an overall balance in health we need to seek a balance in sex. As this time of year is a time of balance, too much sex may deplete the yin-jing. That said, none at all can lead to stagnation in the circulation of Qi and blood.