“Awakening of Insects” (jing zhe 驚蟄) is the third seasonal node of the year, and this year it started Thursday, March 6. This is the next segment of Spring, and as the name suggests it is the time when we should start seeing the very initial stirring of life in the world outside. Here in New Jersey snow still covers most of the ground. However, this week I saw the first robins of the year - Spring is slowly on its way. Early plumb and peach blossoms are not far off.
The first “to do” for this period of time is to guard and protect the Yang qi. Even though we are in Spring (in the Chinese calendar), this early part of the season is still quite cold. Continue to dress appropriately. As Yang qi grows in the natural environment, this is also the time to start doing more gentle exercise. This recommendation conforms to what the Neijing says in the second chapter of the Su Wen, the The Great Treatise on Regulating the Spirit with the Four Seasons (Si Qi Tiao Shen Da Lun 四氣調神大論). There Qi Bo recommends that during Spring we should “upon waking take a walk in the courtyard, loosen the hair and relax the body, thus focusing the will on life.” Movement, especially in the morning, is a Yang activity. Elsewhere the Neijing recommends that “in Spring and Summer nourish Yang, and in Autumn and Winter nourish Yin” (春夏養陽, 秋冬養陰).
The “to avoid” during Awakening of Insects is undo stress and strain. The mental pattern associated with Wood phase, and thus Spring, is anger. People who are prone to Liver depression or Liver repletion patterns should be monitored during this time period to be sure qi is circulating smoothly. This is the time of year where formulas in the Chai Hu family are appropriate for many people. For those prone to resentment and anger, contemplative practices such as Japanese Naikan are appropriate.