Seasonal Cultivation : Awakening of Insects

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Today, Wednesday March 6th is the start of the Awakening of Insects seasonal node, the third node of the year. This is the next segment of Spring, and although over the last two weeks weather has been particularly chilly, we're starting to see buds setting on trees. Also, many mornings the birds are singing so loud it is hard to ignore them. The earth is slowly waking from Winter’s sleep. The three 5-day periods in this seasonal node are Peach Trees Begin to Blossom, Orioles Sing, and Hawks Transform into Cuckoos.

Even though we are in Spring, this early part of the season, especially this year, can be cold. Continue to dress appropriately, especially since there can be wide fluctuations in temperatures from day to day. Now is the time to start doing slightly more gentle exercise. Movement, especially in the morning, is a Yang activity. The Neijing recommends that “in Spring and Summer nourish Yang, and in Autumn and Winter nourish the Yin.”

During Awakening of Insects we undo stress and strain. The mental pattern associated with Spring, is anger. If you are prone to anger it is suggested to begin a contemplative practice to provide balance.

Diet for this time of year is to eat warming foods such as leeks, chives, and scallions. Likewise, it is appropriate to drink a little alcohol, provided the patient does not have specific sensitivities, morbidities, or medications that require abstinence. All of these foods, including alcohol, are warm and acrid, and thus course and warm the qi. I also suggest that everyone consume slightly more white noodles. White noodles, especially in soups, have the function of warming and supplementing the qi.

Again congees are the most excellent foods for early stage colds, seasonal allergies, or just as a daily early Spring food.

Another recommendation for Awakening of Insects is the traditional Chinese practice of Pai Da – stimulating acupuncture points and channels by patting. As mentioned above, Spring is the time to increase movement. Liver (the organ of Spring) ensures the free coursing of Qi and Blood in the body. Thus, any exercise or practice that opens and circulates the channels of the body will have a beneficial effect on the Liver. 

One basic Pai Da technique is to use the hands held in loose fists to pat acupuncture points on the upper limbs. Start by patting the shoulders. Alternate right and left while patting. Then, continue with patting the sides of the elbows. For the lower extremities start with tapping at the outer side of hips and move down to just above the ankles, then return by the same with the inside of the leg.

The combination of physical movement, breathing, visualization, and then mechanical stimulation of the channels is a very effective way of moving the Qi and Blood internally to balance the channel system. 

Next we reach the Vernal Equinox!