March wanes today, and supposedly in this corner of the Northeast, winter is waning too. While it certainly is dwindling, there are still good bits of snow and ice about, making our transition to Spring and its bursts of blossoming energy slow, and halting. Two steps forward, one step back. I write this in the middle of a snow squall, much like the one that left 5 inches of wet snow on Friday. Yet, our dirt driveway is thawed enough that plowing the snow would just dredge a mountain of muck in front of the garage. Instead, we wait. We rest.

One of the most enjoyable, hard to grasp, profound yet frustrating aspects of Chinese Medicine is the shifting landscape of 5 Phase correspondences. On the one hand, Spring time corresponds to the Liver and Wood phases, but also to the Lungs, and Metal phases. Michael “Delli” Dell’orfano’s article at Deepest Health posits that one reason for this wealth of correspondence could lie in the importance of developing an internal environment that will balance the influences of the external environment. In this way, the Sagely Living project, has stretched me to consider multiple correspondences in new ways by pairing certain activities with each month of the calendar year. This month our charge is to balance rest and activity.

Others in the sagely living project are experimenting with habits of waking, sleeping, and mindfulness, but not me. For me, this month of march madness (and I ain’t talking basketball) in Maine during which spring winds and warm sun play hide and seek with storm clouds, snow squalls, hail, and brimstone, no, no scratch the brimstone, I wax melodramatic…, I am called to experiment with a different type of rest and activity, to draw yet another correspondence from within the wisdom of Chinese Medicine to illuminate the rest/activity motif of March. For me. As someone with a sensitive gut all these thwarted bursts of spring have called my attention to my Spleen. In response, I’m called to the task of reinvigorating the rest and activity of digestion.

Alert to the 5 phases of Chinese Medicine, I experience this (and other) seasonal transition times as a call to make right what is in my belly, the whole long digestive track. The unpredictability of the weather like a storm at sea, turns us in towards the palpable, reliable and stable, keel at our center, the body’s middle, the pivot between heaven and earth. The Japanese call the abdomen ‘hara’, and much attention in Japanese acupuncture goes to palpating the abdomen or hara to find the places in the middle where the energy cannot travel freely. With blockages in this central keel, the innate drive to homeostasis is off-balance and falters.

In paying attention to the eat/digest/rest cycle this past month I saw ways in which I could increase the rest portion, allowing myself more emptiness in an otherwise very full life. Failing to heed my own need, choosing fullness over emptiness a time or two too many, I was given the opportunity to learn my own lessons this weekend, granted by the ungraceful visit of an intestinal virus. I fasted and feel as a result refreshed, cleared and ready for spring. If only it would come to stay. Even the skiers are sick of snow.