Spring is upon us, and there’s no better time to transform stress into vitality than in the present season. Spring is a time of abundance, creativity, and resilience. In Qi Gong, we’re always following the seasons and harnessing nature’s powerful energies to direct our lives with purpose and meaning. For many people, Spring is an especially important time of the year, as it offers us the opportunity to revitalize our beings and let our imaginations soar.
The Wood Element: Strength and Flexibility
Each element corresponds with a different season, and Spring is the season of the wood element. The wood element teaches us how to be strong yet flexible, an invaluable combination for humans and trees alike. If a tree is too stiff it will crack and break in the wind. Similarly, if a person is too rigid and serious they will meet life’s challenges with stress and worry. Healthy trees know how to move and sway as their environment changes, dancing playfully in the windy forests. For humans, we must learn to practice the same balance of structure and flow in order to face life’s challenges with strength and fluidity.
Spring and the wood element are associated with the nervous system, which channels the physical manifestation of stress and relaxation. When we carry ourselves with rigidity and resistance to the world, we allow our parasympathetic nervous system to put us into a state of “fight or flight.” While this may be useful on rare occasions such as facing a mountain lion, it too often puts unnecessary burden on our mind and body, causing us to experience stress and anxiety. Instead, we can focus on cultivating tree-like flexibility to help us flow through life with strength and grace.
Transformations: Stress into Vitality, Anger into Kindness
It’s well-researched that stress is terrible for our health. One research study showed that 89% of primary care doctor visits originate from stress-related symptoms. When it comes to work, many people take on stress from their work environment at the cost of their own health, making it no surprise that Monday mornings are the leading time for heart attacks in the United States. Frustration, anger, and negativity are some of the other unpleasant experiences that stress can bring. Some amount of stress can be healthy, but only if we transform it into positive motivation and energy. If not, stress will deplete our Qi and make life feel overwhelming.
When we welcome Spring’s creativity and abundance, many of our stressful thoughts can transform into imaginative vitality and inspiration. Nature itself is creative, and we can all allow the brilliance of Spring’s freshness to circulate through us. When we’re open and receptive, we can take in the vitality and resiliency that is already all around us. When we do, we feel anger dissolve into kindness and stress melt into vitality and creativity.
Just as Spring is the time for seeds to sprout and newborn creatures to take their first steps, it’s an opportunity for people to embark on new projects and pursue their imaginations. Nature is calling us to receive its abundance and embrace the world with fluidity and flow. Through mindful attunement, we can take part in the vibrancy that is sweeping across green meadows and moving through the trees.
Qi Gong for Spring
We can all feel the splendor of nature as we sit beside a cool stream in a warm, sunny forest. The Qi of Spring is all around us, and Qi Gong for Spring can help us to intentionally integrate the amazing gifts that the season brings. By practicing Qi Gong movements, meditations, and postures that welcome in the wood element, we can absorb Spring’s powerful qualities to nurture our Qi.
At Holden QiGong, we’ve put together a “Qi Gong for Spring” course to guide practitioners through movements and meditations that invigorate the body and liven the mind. The course focusses on the wood element and is specifically designed to transform stress into vitality and frustration into kindness. The season is ripe with opportunity for creativity and imagination, so let’s prepare to receive the abundance of Springtime.
By Ian Drogin