Monday, March 31, 2014

Doyo, The Transition Season

The Five Elements Theory of life is a perspective on our world that takes into account the "elements" or "phases" of the natural world. The elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Air/Metal and Earth. As a treatment method, each of these phases has direct relationship to our bodies.
(For more information about this see my writing on the Six Divisions of Yin and Yang)

Cherokee Medicine Wheel
You have noticed in our standard calendar we have four seasons, which are easy enough to match up with four of the elements. Water corresponds with Winter, Wood represents Spring, Fire is the energy of Summer, and Air/Metal represents Autumn. Yet there is Earth. Five Elements theory recognizes this as the Transition Season, called  Doyo ("for the Earth") in Japanese. There are four Doyo phases in a year, approximately 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after each Solstice/Equinox. So the seasons are Winter, Doyo, Spring, Doyo, Summer, Doyo, Autumn, and Doyo. The Transition Season is beautifully illustrated in the traditional Medicine Wheel image (right) with the four main seasons represented each in a different color and the Earth Season shown as the spokes and hub of the year.

To backtrack just one step, the Earth element in our bodies correspond to the Spleen & Pancreas (considered one organ in Chinese Medicine, but referred to as "Spleen" for convenience), and the Stomach. These organs manage our nourishment, primary digestion, blood re-building, fluid normalization, and stabilize every other organ in it's position in our body. Thus the Earth Organ Network, the Spleen, is known as the Mother Organ of our bodies because of how much it does to nurture all other vital processes. Nature-based health care considers the Spleen function the most important process to support health, thus the philosophy "make food your medicine," is echoed in the axiom "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

During the Earth Season people see three main types of illness. The most common is the effects of dietary slips from previous seasons, which may manifest as weight gain, brain fog and achy joints. Second, physical injuries that were not fully healed re-surface. The third Earth Season ailments is mental/emotional fatigue coming home to roost from "being every where for everyone." This one will compromise the immune system if ignored, resulting in an out-of-season flu. So you can see that the Transition Season represents the Earth Phase in our external and internal lives. It is a time to pay attention to our whole body, to attend to unresolved problems and to nurture our personal needs.

Simple dietary solution is to cut down all preservatives, refined foods, sweets and anything that is slow to digest (heavy meats, hard cheeses, raw salad, dense bread) until mid-way through the next season. Incorporate colorful root vegetables and cooked or steamed greens, lighter meats and broth-based soups. Substitute desserts with fresh or dried fruits, and put a little more time between meals to allow complete digestion. Cleansing from alcohol and common toxins for a month will also allow the Earth Organ Network to function more efficiently with generally beneficial effects.

Sitting, the Spleen posture!
Actions to restore the Spleen Network are get more sleep, let go of excess busy work, delegate tasks that do no require your full attention, and re-incorporate favorite activities that bring you happiness. Breathing is a simple activity that greatly benefits the Spleen, so take in some fresh air!

Receiving bodywork will help remind you how good it feels to be in balance with your body and help heal that old injury. Mat-styles of bodywork are oriented around the organ networks, and thus elicit natural healing processes. Being closer to the ground and comfortably clothed will help restore a feeling of connection with the Earth and it's natural rhythm.

In Boulder, Colorado, the only reliable source of mat-style bodywork is the Bodywork Bistro. You can find out more at

Please feel free to schedule with me, Chistian Goldberg, for Shiatsu therapy during my office hours:
Spruce Street: Tuesday and Thursday, 10 - 2pm
Iris Avenue: Tuesday, 4 - 8pm
Contact the Spruce Street studio at 303-440-1992, and the Iris Avenue center at 303-413-1992.

Best wishes for a healthy Transition Season!

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