Creativity. Growth. Flexibility. Vision.
According to classical Chinese medicine, these are qualities associated with the energy of springtime, which in turn is associated with the Wood element. The colour, not surprisingly is blue-green, its climatic force is wind, and it is all about creativity, growth, and change.
The emotion of the Spring is anger, which is not necessarily a negative thing. If we understand anger as the impulse to create change, then we see that it can be a very positive and dynamic force when it is channelled in a healthy way. Looking inward at our bodies, the Liver and the Gallbladder are the internal organs associated with the spring energy. In the context of Chinese medicine, these organs are in charge of smooth flow throughout the body and they have particular influence over the eyes, the joints, tendons and ligaments, the reproductive system, the blood, and some aspects of digestion.
It is time for things that have been resting and replenishing, germinating and gestating, hidden and gathering power through the cold and quiet winter, to emerge and burst forth, take form and assert themselves. So it goes with our plans and aspirations – this is the time when the unformed idea begins to take on shape and detail. A time to do, we define our vision, focus our energy, make decisions and take action. When the inevitable obstacles arise, we stay rooted while remaining flexible and seeking a new path. If our own, internal springtime energy is strong, then creative flow and adapting to change will come easily to us. However, if our springtime energy is out of balance, we may lack vision and focus or we may lack the decisiveness and firmness of purpose to achieve our vision. We may be thrown off by changes and obstacles, either becoming rigid, and angry when things do not go according to plan or feeling so hopeless and frustrated that we give up on our goals.
Spring Feel Good Activities
- Get outside. Outdoor air helps the chi flow, as does exercise. If you find yourself feeling irritable, lethargic, or stuck, find some time for an outdoor activity. Hiking, gardening, golf, bicycling – whatever suits you!
- Express yourself and Envision Possibility! Dancing, cooking, writing, making art or music… See your life growing beyond present obstacles. Write your goals and dreams, take one step at a time, take this season as an opportunity to examine what you would like to change in your life. Make a plan and start putting the steps in action and walk steadily towards your north star. Any form of creative expression helps nourish and channel Wood energy in a healthy way.
- Eat Green. Not surprisingly, green is the colour that goes with spring, wood, and the liver. Green, leafy foods are especially helpful to the liver chi. If you can find in-season baby greens, that’s the best! , spinach, fiddle ferns, wild leeks, watercress, etc., sprouts – all can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of chi.
- Taste Sour. Sour foods also help soothe and smooth the liver chi, and can ease the transition into spring. Add lemon to your water, pickles to your sandwich, vinegar and olive oil dressings to your salad.
- Stretch. Taking a few minutes to stretch, do yoga or Tai Chi in the morning can help you move more fluidly through the day.
- Be Gentle. The Wood element in Chinese Medicine has a tendency towards frustration and impatience, so acknowledge yourself for your efforts, and kindly give yourself some time and space to get to where you’re going.
Adapted from deMamiel blog
- Mindfulness Research Update: 2008 by Jeffrey M. Greeson, Ph.D., M.S.
- Mindfulness and pain management
- Daily Meditations
For so many women, life gets better in their later years. They grow into their looks and trade in their spotless perfect skin for experience and self-fulfilment. But if we are all living longer on average, we are going to spend most of our lives “not being young” and we might as well embrace it.
Women complain of becoming invisible to men in middle age and research supports this as our programming. But older women have their life experience written into their faces – all these fascinating, inspiring, individual stories. Young girls have inimitable, peachy, smooth skin with their future unmapped in their faces.
We can surgically enhance till we are blue in the face but we can never be beautifully young again. Instead, lets embrace our experiences and cherish the face that shows how interesting life we had.
Source: Walter H. Beauty and truth. Harpers Bazaar, August 2010, 76.
Marketing agency, Sturm und Drang, were interviewed by Cossma Magazine recently and revealed the cultural codes of beauty across continents. Europe, US and Japan are distinctly different in the perception and meaning of beauty.
In Europe, particularly in Germany, true beauty is not visible on the surface. It comes from your personality; it is all about charisma and individuality. German beauty routines are fairly uncomplicated and take about 20 minutes a day. The focus is on the eyes and how we express our personality through our eyes. It is all about how we feel, what we eat and how we look after our soul. It is not about applying a product onto the surface. To respond to advertising, the Germans need “a reason to believe”; they are always asking questions and looking for “the truth”.
In the US, beauty is all about shine – glossy hair and “whiter than white” teeth. Beauty comes from the outside and American women put lots of effort into making themselves look attractive. Their routine is about an hour a day and a lot stricter than in Europe. However, it is limited to their professional life and happily abandoned at weekends. It says, “I am in control”. Advertising in the US focuses on the benefit, on the “object of desire”, on visual attributes. “This is it. Do you want it? What you see is what you get”.
Beauty in Japan is all about purity “down to the pore”. It is all about looking young! Japanese women spend 2 hours a day on their beauty routines, particularly cleansing, detoxing and UV protection – applying as many as 5 layers of skincare. Being cute equals being sexy. Advertising is about the context of the product usage. “How do I feel afterwards?”
Richard Lewis, the crosscultural guru, suggests that Britain’s cultural position mirrors the geographical – it is between the US and continental Europe. Do you feel that may be true for how we perceive beauty too?
From Temporary Lines to Permanent Wrinkles
Wrinkles develop progressively through our lives. When young, we only see temporary lines when making a facial expression. Later in life, lines and wrinkles become visible permanently. It is the mechanical stress caused by repeated facial expressions along the same skin groove that makes temporary lines become permanent wrinkles. The most significant period of change is in the 40s! Light skin tone and low hydration make our skin more prone to wrinkling. Also a low intake of water and a belief that tanned skin is healthy looking skin will contribute.
A Tipping Point
Research presented at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) in San Francisco shows that skin elasticity and resilience has a tipping point at about 35 years of age. Compressing the skin of a 20-year old and that of a 40-year old skin with the same amout of stress and force – a skin compression imaging device - shows a big difference in the ability of the skin to withstand pressure. In a study of 100 women aged 25 – 55, skin power gradually declined through their 20′s and early 30s but dropped precipitously at their mid thirties. This is due to collagen and elastin, skin’s two main structural components, being damaged by oxidation (UV rays, pollution and intrinsic stress). The damage builds up till the scaffolding can no longer hold it at bay and the loss of elasticity and thickness shows as textural changes in our face e.g. wrinkles and sagging. It is a dramatic shift rather than slow degrading overtime but whether it is at the age of 35 depends on how much damage you’ve had accumulated so far.
What To Do
- Attend a Facial Yoga Party to see how your feelings show in your face and “unlearn” your bad habits e.g. frowning.
- Be gentle with your face – avoid stretching and pulling, particularly your jawline and eye area.
- Use the right skincare products. Come for a personalised skincare consultation to establish the correct routine.
Maggie Bullock. A Wrinkle in Time. US Elle Oct 2009
- Mood Enhancing Skincare – going beyond simple aromatherapy, “neurocosmetics” has been designed to help boost the neurotransmitters, enhance our feeling of well-being and reduce stress. These actives may include antioxidants (idebenone) or plant extracts (Mirabilis jalapa or Marvel of Peru).
- Natural & High-Tech skincare coming together - less focused on certification and more on results, efficacy and safety. Expect to see claims like “free from” and “sustainable” on products that simultaneously contain synthetic actives (like peptides, hyaluronic acid, ceramides).
- Protection Against Ageing – continued from 2009, the protection claim will focus on UV light, the elements and hormonal changes e.g. Clarins Replenishing Comfort Mask claims to “nourish and enhance skin weakened by age-related hormonal change”. The substantiation might be a challenge though!
- The Turbo Formulations trend continues from 2009. We saw the power of formulation being ramped up to deliver real results. Cosmetics science will continue to capitalise on advances in biochemistry and incorporate the use of medical grade active ingredients into skincare products.
We also anticipate the groundbreaking research by Olay – on a change in wrinkle depth that is visually discernible to our eye – to come out in 2010, a key piece of information that will enable us to predict true efficacy of skincare. These are all exciting times ahead!