The Lessons of the Seasons
According to Tom Bisio & New York Internal Arts LLC in the publication Five Elements & Four Seasons, "Each season has it own characteristics and manifestations - its own energetic signature. Each season can be understood not only in terms of the obvious meteorological and climatic changes, but also through its subtle energetic transformations and correspondences. Very early on, Chinese civilization developed sophisticated means of understanding and categorizing these correspondences and changes. One very important way of correlating the natural phenomena associated with seasonal change with the experience of human beings is the Five Elements, or Wu Xing. The Five Elements are not just five primordial substances, they are also five archetypal processes, or phases, that are constantly acting upon one another and undergoing change. Hence, they are also known as the Five Phases, Five Agents, Five Forces, or Five Powers."
By using the 5 Element model one can live a healthier more fulfilling life by following the changing seasons. For example, Spring is related to the wood element which controls the liver and gall bladder. As Tom Bisio & New York Internal Arts LLC further explains, "The liver’s connection to “giving birth” is part of our creativity and growth as human beings. The liver governs the sinews by releasing blood to the muscles and joints when we are moving, and returning blood to the liver when we are at rest. Wood and the liver create a lively vigor within us, but at the same time this vigor when uncontrolled can explode into anger. Windy, erratic spring weather resonates with the wood and liver within us, and can create erratic movement of the Liver Qi. The sour taste homes to the liver, and to some degree, sour foods directly affect the liver. The liver “opens” into the eyes. Overusing the eyes can overtax the liver, and liver diseases can cause vision problems. When the liver is diseased or out of balance the face may take on a greenish tinge, the body may give off a rancid smell, and the finger and toenails nails may be pitted, fluted or cracked."
Holdengigong.com states "One of the fundamental lessons of Qi Gong is that each person is a microcosm of the world around them. Therefore, each season can teach us important lessons about ourselves.
Just like humans, the seasons are constantly changing and transforming. If we follow their example, we can experience our highest expression of health and happiness.
Let’s go through each of the seasons to explore how they correspond with our experience of being human. We have also linked to a blog post that goes into more detail about the gifts of each season.
Spring is associated with the Wood Element in Chinese Medicine. Wood reminds us that nature is abundant with energy and new life. Spring is a good time to be creative, to use your imagination in new and innovative ways, to start a new project, to think outside the box, and to cultivate your unique expression of energy.
Spring embodies the energies of birth, creativity, and growth. In nature, this energy is visible in the plants and animals that are coming to life after the winter. In humans, the energy of spring is reflected through ideas, inspiration, and new chapters in life.
When we pay attention to the lessons of spring, we’re able to harness our own creative potential within ourselves. For some, that may mean starting a new relationship. For others, it might mean taking a new job.
The creative and abundant energy of spring will be expressed differently in each person. Our job is to pay attention to our true path and allow the energy of spring to be one of our sources of our inspiration.
If spring is the time for new ideas, summer is the time to turn ideas into reality.
Summer is the season of fire. The fire element is related to the heart, which contains powerful emotional energy that drives who we are.
In nature, the baby creatures that were born in spring grow up and become more full versions of themselves. The sunlight which brought plants to life is now higher in the sky and shining more brightly than ever. In humans, the energy of summer invites us to take our inspiration from spring and bring it into the world.
Manifesting inspiration and creativity can take many forms. Sometimes, it means going on an adventure with your family or friends. At other times, it means making great progress on a work endeavor. And at others, it means creating fun and romantic experiences with your partner.
The Summer Solstice is the day in which the world is most abundant with Yang energy. Yang energy is fiery, passionate, expressive, and about taking action. The long days of summer are a great time to manifest your visions and follow your ambitions. There’s a reason that many of us are attracted to spending our days outside and being active during the summer months. As humans, we’re naturally drawn to embody the energy of the natural world, and summertime is a period of outward awakening and celebration.
After any creation, there is Yin and Yang — positive and negative. Even when we’ve created something beautiful, there are always parts that we would like to let go of.
Fall is associated with the metal element. It's a time for letting go and creating new space for what we want to become. In nature, the trees shed their leaves and let them fall to the ground. For humans, we can follow this wisdom to release what is no longer serving us.
Humans are often fearful of the process of letting go, even when it’s healthy and right. We seek to hold onto things, not trusting that change can be an opportunity for growth.
We hold onto stress, stagnant emotional energy, physical tension, old thought patterns, and even unhealthy relationships or unfulfilling work positions. While we think that holding onto these things allows us to have more, it really just prevents us from creating the space to invite what we truly want in life.
Much of the time we don’t even realize what we’re holding onto, or we think that if we let go of what we’re carrying we’ll have nothing left. Usually, life doesn’t ask us “what emotions or thought patterns do you want to let go of?” More often, life’s experiences are constantly giving us more emotions and burdens to carry.
Winter is the season of Yin energy, which invites us to go inward and compost our experiences from the previous seasons. It's associated with the water element.
During winter, many animals seek refuge from the cold weather. Some even go into hibernation in order to store their energy and wait for spring. Shorter days and colder temperatures offer us a great opportunity to conserve our resources and look within ourselves.
For humans, going inward often means reflecting on the past and deciding how we want to move forward. Since the past is our teacher, it’s important to spend time processing its lessons. By doing so, we can compost our past experiences in order to create a promising future.
In turn, spring follows winter, in which the entire cycle “restarts.
Within the space, we can fill ourselves up with who we truly are and what we want to become. By listening and hearing what our truest self yearns for, we can invite the emotions, thoughts, and outward expressions that reflect our essence.”
Although humans can harness the energy of the natural seasonal rhythms of nature, it’s important to note that the timing of this cycle within us doesn’t always correspond with the present season.
For example, sometimes a relationship may end in spring, in which case we’ll be experiencing the energy of fall. When that happens, it’s important to remember the lessons of fall, even though it’s springtime in the world around us."
According to the 5 Element Theory, learning which foods to eat or to be avoided and adjusting periods of sleep and activity depending on the season is a major component of learning the lessons of the seasons.
By emulating the patterns and cycles in nature which change with the season we can learn how to support our own health and stay healthy year round.