Seasonal Cleaning: 7 Steps to Bring in Spring

springIn front of the sink, where I wash my hands every time I finish a massage, just outside the window there is a big, beautiful Ginkgo Biloba tree. This tree is my seasonal clock: naked in the winter, budding in the spring, verdantly green in the summer and golden yellow in the autumn. Every week I get to see it change and do its thing – following some innate wisdom rising through its sap – it knows what to do next and exactly when. I often think it would be nice to be as in tune as this tree to the yearly cycles of nature. How come this wisdom doesn’t just flow naturally through my veins and tissues, telling me when to blossom, when to give, when to shed? Then again, maybe it does.

Right now the asparagus are beginning to sprout, the cherry blossoms and magnolias are having flowery orgasms, farmers are beginning to sell strawberries again and the sensuous scent of jasmine is filling the air. This can only mean one thing: Spring is here!

Spring is the season of sprouting, blooming, regenerating and cleansing the body as well as renewing the spirit and making space for what is fresh and new. So, in that spirit, the following is a quick list of things to do to make way for the vibrant energy of spring.

1. Love your Liver  In Chinese medicine spring is the season correlated with the liver. So to care for your liver, eat light meals and get good rest at night. Eat lots of bitter and sour foods like dandelion, fresh lemon, apple cider vinegar, raw green things and sprouts, and bitter spices like turmeric and milk thistle.

2. Acknowledge Anger  Anger is the emotion of the liver, if you are pissed off, let it out! Punch your pillow, yell in the car, or talk to a friend about what’s stressing you out and then let it go!  Stagnant anger can accumulate in the liver and cause dis-ease later on.

3. Cleanse your body  This is the season to naturally shed off the extra pounds we gained while eating heavy winter foods that kept us warm. Perhaps try an ayurvedic kitchari cleanse or liver flush diet for a week or 10 days. You’ll feel re-energized and renewed!

4. Stretch  Eastern medicine also says that the liver maintains tendon health and flexibility, so don’t forget to do your morning stretch routine, learn tai chi or go to yoga class.

5. Get a massage  Therapeutic massage or any other kind of healing bodywork increases blood and lymph circulation which will help you detox if you are cleansing or just help you relax into the freshness of the season.

6. Clean your home  A clear space to live in makes it easier to feel clear and spacious inside. I encourage you to clean out your closet, get rid of stuff cluttering your home and get yourself a new plant to bring fresh life into your space.

7. Go outside  Fresh spring air makes your liver Qi flow. Go on hikes more often in this season and, while you’re at it, take in the fragrance of the blossoming trees.

Why Technology Might Be Ruining Your Life

On our recent journey back to the Bay Area from our holiday vacation, I made a sad discovery.  It was an incredibly early flight- the kind in which you find yourself continually fantasizing about being in your warm bed instead. But rather than being cozy, sleepy, dreamy and present in these wee hours, I noticed that probably more that 70% of our fellow airplane travelers were looking at the screen of their smart phones, tablets, computers etc. And then I thought about it. This not only happens in airports and airplanes but everywhere I go!  How many people at any given time and place are plugged into their iphones, ipads, kindles and laptops? The gym, the grocery store- it’s everywhere!  It’s the way our culture is now, especially in Oakland and Berkeley.

I am aware that we need to engage with all these things in order to smoothly operate in society. It’s an easy and convenient way to communicate with work colleagues and loved ones alike. But for too many of us, technology becomes an incredible time-suck- an alienation from the ‘real’ world and real people. It’s an easy way to dissociate from our life, a perfect way to kill time rather than live time, a fake way to feel connected, and the best way to bypass our essential and precious human solitude.

I understand the irony, given that you are probably reading this on your computer. Here I am writing a blog, sending emails for hours on end, and wanting as many likes as possible on my Facebook page.  And yet, I am one of those people that resists technology ’till the very end, (if you could see my prehistoric phone you would know what mean!) I have always resented having to be plugged in all the time which is one of the main reasons why my chosen profession is healing bodywork.  This work keeps me present, tuned in to myself and others and makes me feel like my healing touch is making a positive impact.

To my own relief, I recently I learned that in 2009 the Unplugging Movement was born in San Francisco.  No wonder I live here- sign me up!  Well, actually, I have been one of them all along!  The movement began with families wanting to deliberately stay away from social media and technological devices to slow down their lives thereby having more time for creativity, time to be out doors, cook meals with friends, play with the kids and connect with actual human beings. To this list I personally have to add:  going to yoga class, and of course, regular therapeutic massage. Being touched is a wonderful way to be present. (And touch screens don’t count!)

In other words, what the unpluggers are trying to do is reclaim their lives, from cyberspace back to planet Earth and back to their hearts and bodies.  I invite you to dedicate some time this week to consciously creating an unplugging ritual. Take some deliberate time away from email, Facebook, your phone, your online calendar and your twitter account. Stop texting, stop posting and start breathing, stretching and singing.  Come back from the cyber-universe, from being crouched over your computer and gone, to your own embodied, breath-full, pulsing, loving self. Trust me, your body will thank you!