In Spring we are the Dreamer and the Achiever
Spring is the season of growth and renewal, the hotspot of the Liver and Gallbladder, which are understood in Chinese Medicine to shape our visionary selves at the junction of the dreamer and the achiever, the designer and strategist for making one’s own path. We might be asking where we should be or what we should be doing to bring about the best possible life. Do you? I think about it a lot. And I try to remind myself that if I’m thinking about it so much then it wants to be seen, so, it’s useful to really look at it, sharp-eyed and curious. Not to try to simply or impulsively solve the ‘problem’ but to really look and see what it is that I’m hungry for or seeking. What’s behind the urge to be or have something different? If we have one thing, but seek another, can we have both? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately because I am an artist at heart, while professionally, I’m an acupuncturist.
I found Chinese Medicine at a time in my life when I had been struggling with debilitating anxiety and depression for a while and it was getting out of hand. I was in my mid-twenties, in the black ash grit of a post-911 New York City. One of the painters I worked for passed away that Spring. He was one of those magical people, with a bright zeal for living. When he died, I determined that the life I’d been building in the arts was untenable for me; I had to find a profession more directly of service. I started researching various holistic medicines. My first time getting acupuncture, the insides of my body sprung to life like a hive of bees. A needle in my palm sent what felt like a bolt of pink lightening from the tip of my smallest finger into my armpit where it detonated with light. I reported the bizarre sensation to the acupuncturist and she said I had just traced the channel of the heart. I took it as a sign.
I was drawn to Chinese medicine for the metaphor, the poetry, the symbolism. It is an understanding of the body built on associations, where everything is mapped out within the body in a way that is predictable and fitting, a microcosmos of the natural world.
Each organ is a system, a season, a smell, a color, a sound, a flavor, a river in the body’s map, an hour segment on the clock. To me, it is more art than science. Poetic language and imagery rule the principles, theories and applications. They engage the imagination. I practice Chinese medicine with my imagination engaged, as an artist.
The heart is an emperor, a fire, a red berry, a flower, a mountain. The liver is a forest, an oracle, a tangle of briars, a verdant scent, a brine of vinegar and marrow, a strategist.
Chinese medicine resonates with me because it understands the psyche to be an emotional body, which is subject to injury, damage, and illness just like any other part of thephysical body, and thus, like a physiological ailment, is subject to change, to healing and resolution. Mental illness, in this Taoist-based medicine, is not an end-all-be-all diagnosis, nor is it a stamp of stigma. It is simply a hitch in the system, a tangle in the threads, a fold in the fabric of the body’s sky. It can be attended to holistically, and the symptoms are seen to have the same potential for improvement as any other illness.
Life leads us. Sometimes we trip upon a vocation. At other times, we have lifelong dreams calling to us, tugging at us to be shaped into form. I am both lucky and challenged by both those experiences. What about you? What drives you forward? What holds you to yourself? Do you have dreams that you need to attend to? Have you found a vocation that suits you right now?
Here’s a visualization to get into that investigation, if you like.
Bear in mind, it’s all just imagined, you can’t do it wrong, and you’ll get different information each time.
Use your imagination to see your body like a giant map, its own landscape. Take some inventory on which areas you know really well, and which ones are undiscovered and still wild. If you peer into those secret gardens, what do you find? Maybe an image or a memory or a word or a thought comes up. What does it tell you about yourself? What’s kept in your wild places?
Wishing you all the best,