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"Tulips" by erikwestrum, used with permission under CC BY 2.0. Source.

Springing Forward, Bamboo Style

I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to Spring, which is coming in one and a half weeks!  The dipping chills and various storms has me welcoming temperatures that don’t require thermals, with additional layers that make you feel more like encased sausage than a person.

As some of you may know, in a past life, I was the editrix of my own zine (self-published magazine), called Bamboo Girl.  It challenged racism, sexism, and homophobia, and became a wonderful networking tool to build community and dialogue.  Even though I don’t publish it anymore (it had a good run for 10 years), I remember, that even then, the meaning of spiritual growth wasn’t lost to me.

I am a big fan of Bruce Lee. And so is Hong Kong, for erecting this statue. “They call him Bruce” by Andrew Currie, used with permission under CC BY 2.0.

My father’s given me a lot of advice over the years (my mother too.)  When my zine was still active, and my father wasn’t yet familiar with it, he told me, in a very Bruce Lee “Be like water” kind of way, “Be like bamboo.  It is strong, but flexible, and can withstand all weather.  If it were rigid, it would break in a storm; so it yields, but is firmly planted in the ground.”  Yes, in addition to being an American success story – growing up in poverty overseas, and making a healthy living in the States – my father has become very Yoda-esque in his years.

And I still remember that now.  Because, with the hustle and bustle of life and challenges it may bring, it is easy to forget to be strong, yet flexible.  To stand your ground, but yield to what life throws at you.  It’s an incredible lesson that I still haven’t perfectly mastered!

Bamboo is a good way to be. “Bamboo Forest Canopy”, by The Pug Father used with permission under CC BY 2.0.

So, how fitting it is that bamboo symbolizes in Chinese Medicine what Spring heralds in:  fast, direct movement. Spring is:  upward, forward vision, hope, and growth.

In Chinese Medicine, Spring time means many things.  Some of them are:

Element: Wood

Organs: Liver and Gall Bladder (in an Eastern sense, not a Western one)

Sense Organs: Eyes

Tissues: Sinews

Emotion: Anger.  Does this mean it’s a time of disorder or mayhem or disgruntled employees to go postal?  Not necessarily.  But keep this in mind:

“Nu” is the concept that new growth can’t happen without resistance, and

“Sheng Qi” means to find another way to flow when there’s resistance.

It sounds a lot like bamboo!

So, how can you herald in Spring with a Chinese Medicine sensibility?

  1. Have a couple of plums, especially the kind you get down in Chinatown, that make your cheeks pucker.  Plums are the fruit or the season, and sour is the taste of it.

    Dried prunes to make you pucker. “Chinese preserved plum snack” by Alancrh, used with permission under CC BY SA 3.0. Source.

  2. Surround yourself with a lot of green, maybe get a new plant.  It is the color of the season, and a perfect symbol of growth, especially if it’s the “lucky bamboo” (which you can find in many plant stores, or in your friendly, neighborhood Chinatown.)
  3. With the season’s energy being blood, start an activity that elevates your heart rate a bit.  If you’ve been inactive for some time, start small with a 20-minute walk, preferably amongst some trees (or do a couple of blocks, if you’re citybound.)
  4. Understand what you’re resisting in life, and see where you can find another way to flow.
  5. Be like bamboo, my friend, be like bamboo!

Please make sure to check out my new Alcantara Acupuncture logo and one of my new photos in my “About” page.  Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think!  Both will be updated on my website soon.

And to leave you with a smile on your face, and some New York flava…

I have another subway experience I’d like to share with you, just another day in New York’s Union Square subway station:

As I got out of my train yesterday, I saw this guy with the biggest smile I’d ever seen on any Asian guy, wearing white tights, a headband with what looked to be rabbit ears, bopping a tambourine on his right hip, to the music on the floor beside his tipping hat.  He was wearing a big sign that hung around his neck that read, “Your Smile Is Beautiful”.  It made me giggle, and totally made my day!

In the process of finding a video of him to share with you, I found out that he apparently has outfits for specific holidays, and was dressed as a reindeer not too long ago, shaking that tambourine!  He seems to be promoting the Tokyo Circus.

Here is a video I found, not of the same day I was there.  I admire this guy’s tenacity to sell his Circus with gusto, to boogie to his heart’s desire in front of people he doesn’t know.

Laughter keeps the Liver Qi flowing.  The Liver, one of Spring’s organs, is in charge of keeping Qi smooth and running.  Hope you get your Qi flow on, as I did!

 

Copyright © 2011 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.

11 Comments

  1. emma.l.fox
    March 15, 2011

    I am so in love with the advice of your father- isn’t it amazing the small bits of advice they pass along to us? What’s even more amazing is how we remember them for it 🙂 Thank you for sharing the advice- and what a wonderful thought to live like bamboo- it seems in the fast paced world we live in, we never truly are fully flexible, yet anchored at the same time. We allow ourselves to be influenced quickly by the whims of modern culture, and sometimes forget the things that root us to what makes us truly unique- it is healthy to be reminded of this! Thank you (as always) for your beautiful words. I’m sharing this on my facebook!

    Reply
  2. Alcantara Acupuncture
    March 15, 2011

    Hi Emma!

    LOL, my father would be so tickled to hear you say that about his advice. Then, he’d give you a lot more to chew on! In fact, when he discovered I had included his advice on this blog, he gave me clarification (which turned out sounding much more poetic than my rendition.) I’ll actually be including it in the next post.

    Yes, isn’t it amazing what we remember, even though our parents may have thought we weren’t listening? I’m glad you’re enjoying the bamboo analogy. And, I’m sure you’d know more about this, but isn’t bamboo being used a lot more for sustainability purposes? As an alternative to certain materials, including in clothes? I’ve seen a lot of baby clothes with bamboo fibers. In terms of the flexibility of the material, I was in the Philippines, and one of the jungle tour guides taught me how to make a cup, a plate, and eating utensils out of a sectioned off piece of bamboo (although I don’t carry around a big bolo knife like he does!) Amazing that one plant can have so many uses, and be symbolic for its flexibility and anchored-ness.

    Thanks for reading my words. I read yours too! Incredibly informative. And, girl, you are hardcore! Very admirable.

    Margarita

    Reply
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