The Nei Jing, is not only one of the most vital texts on Daoism but also considered one of the fundamental backbones of Chinese Medicine. It is written from the perspective of Huang Di, known as the yellow emperor who retired in the third millennium BCE. Throughout the Nei Jing, Huang Di addresses numerous subjects in relation to etiology, therapy, diagnosis, physiology, and prevention of disease through conversational dialect between him and his ministers.
I wanted to begin with this quote from Huang Di which illustrates the spirit of Chinese medicine in it’s simplicity, clarity, and efficiency. My intention in sharing this specific quote with you is to hopefully help you understand the difference between preventing disease and maintaining health, versus reliving unpleasant symptoms in a body which has already reached a pathological state. This difference in thinking is critical for moving past the disempowering cultural biases we have been conditioned to respond to sickness from, and to reclaiming our own individual power and personal responsibility for health.
“In the old days the sages treated disease by preventing illness before it began, just as a good government or emperor was able to take the necessary steps to avert war….If someone digs a well only when thirsty, or forges weapons only after becoming engaged in battle, one cannot help but ask: Aren’t these actions too late?” -Huang Di
The idea of prevention in western culture seems mediocre as a medical discovery because it does not give any immediate relief or excitement such as a drug does. Although it may take a short period of time to notice significant improvements in health with minor lifestyle changes, there are massive changes happening which are more likely to be noticed by those who are in tune with their bodies. If one is coming from an extremely unbalanced lifestyle they will be less aware to the subtitles which are happening than one who has been living in balance and can identify immediately any changes in mental clarity and physical stamina. Thus, with these foundational concepts in mind here are the top three tips for hacking your body in the spring season as articulated by the great Huang Di.
1. Early to bed, early to rise
“Huang Di said, “The three months of the spring season bring about the revitalization of all things in nature. It is the time of birth. This is when heaven and earth are reborn. During this season it is advisable to retire early, arise early also, and go walking in order to absorb the fresh, invigorating energy. Since this is the season in which the universal energy begins anew and rejuvenates, one should attempt to correspond to it directly by being open and unsuppressed, both physically and emotionally.”
In five element theory, the spring is the beginning of the life cycle associated with birth and the wood element. A harmonious union with this season would involve fresh starts, letting go of what isn’t working, and remaining positive and open to receiving better opportunities than ever before. This mindset should be supplemented with daily actions, so as to stay connected to these intentions on a physical level.
2. Exercise, dress comfortably, and let it go.
”On the physical level it is good to exercise more frequently and wear loose-fitting clothing. This is the time to do stretching exercises to loosen up the tendons and muscles. Emotionally, it is good to develop equanimity. This is because spring is the season of the liver, and indulgence in anger, frustration, depression, sadness, or any excess emotion can injure the liver”.
Clothing is something commonly overlooked as something which can cause a huge difference in how we feel. When we are comfortable we are relaxed, we breathe more deeply, are more likely to be present with people, and give people better impressions. Tight, constricting clothing can obstruct the free flow of qi throughout the body affecting our emotions, mind, and stress level. I once went to an interview with a hot, tight, button up shirt in the middle of summer. I was dripping sweat, from my face, which made me extremely self-conscious. Because I was so uncomfortable I was not able to be myself and relax and therefore did not give my best impression. Although this seems minor in the larger scheme of things, the bigger picture was that my entire mindset was also constricted; thinking the only way to make decent money was to conform to a cultural norm of professionalism. By doing this I had shut down the idea that it was possible to make a decent amount of money dressed, as I feel comfortable. By letting go of past mind sets, I opened myself to new opportunities, and was able to free myself of both restrictive clothing and a restrictive mind set, which in the long run, has had monumental improvements to my health.
3. Remain open and fluid
“Spring is the beginning of things, when the energy should be kept open and fluid; summer opens up further into an exchange or communication between internal and external energies; in the fall it is important to conserve; finally, the winter is dominated by the storage of energy.”
As you can see each season carries its own energy. For us to synergize ourselves with that energy will be extremely beneficial and enable us to preserve our health so that we can bring more to the world and connect more clearly with our purpose.
And there you have it! Straight from the yellow emperor himself. Hopefully you enjoyed this post and it has positively inspired you to take a fresh perspective on what is possible this spring.
I look forward to connecting soon!
The Yellow Emperors Classic of Medicine, A New Translation of the NeiJing SuWen with Commentary, Chapter 2 Pg 5 and 7.