It is spring, season of the wood element in the Chinese Medicine system of the Five Elements. On an energetic level, the wood element within each of us is the dimension of self that can bounce back and keep growing towards the sun, just like a tree or plant, in spite of life's obstacles. You know when you see little plants coming up through the sidewalk, or the roots of a tree breaking up the concrete? That is the wood element: determined to keep aspiring and growing, concrete be damned! A wonderful symbol of a healthy wood element that many of us can connect with is a redwood tree. Strongly rooted in the earth, they are able to sway with very strong winds without snapping or falling down. And always they aspire higher and higher towards the sun, while firmly rooted in the earth. This is the energetic of Wood.
When the wood element within us is healthy, we are able to sway with the external winds of life without either snapping or collapsing. When our wood element is not in balance it can look a few different ways, depending on what's out of balance. One is that we find ourselves "snapping" at everything! Irritability, frustration, and even rage are all signs of stagnant liver energy (the liver being the organ associated with wood).
Or, conversely, there can be a sense of just collapsing in the face of challenges, of just giving up. This can happen when our wood element is more deficient, and isn't receiving enough nourishment to feel strong and empowered like the mighty redwood trees. This can also manifest as feeling insecure, self-judging, or indecisive about what to do with one's life. Just as all trees and plants grow towards the sun, so too should we grow and aspire to what shines the brightest in our lives.
The wood element has a lot to do with resiliency. We can think about the liver, the organ associated with wood. The liver is a pretty resilient organ, if you think about it! It can really take a beating. It works to continually detoxify the body (not an easy task in our day and age of unprecedented toxic burdens), and yet it continues to regenerate and carry out so many vital-- essential-- physiological functions. On an energetic level, when we are resilient we are able to keep going on our path in life, even if we encounter obstacles. Healthy wood means being patient, calling on our creativity for problem-solving (another aspect of healthy wood), and staying resilient even when the winds of life get rough.
Interestingly, because the wood element is also associated with vision and eye health, it has a lot to do with perspective. When we come up against the inevitable frustrations in life, our ability to step back and get a broader perspective is a sign that our wood element is functioning well. One of my favorite acupuncture points that supports healthy wood has a spirit-level quality of allowing one to get a bigger perspective, as though climbing to the top of a mountain out of a thick, dark forest. Getting to a place where you can really get a panoramic view of your life, and see the big picture. The name of this point is Wilderness Mound.
Spring is the perfect time to focus on the health of our wood element and liver, both on the energetic and the physiological levels. Because wood is so much about growth, this is a good time of year to explore our own personal growth. Wood is that part of us that wants to grow towards the sun; it's about direction, goal setting, and aspiration. We can ask ourselves, how have I grown this past year? In what areas do I still need to grow? What do I aspire to? What are my goals for this next growing season? Wood is the part of us that can hold a goal or a vision for what we want to achieve in life (the yin aspect of wood), and then come up with a plan for how to achieve that goal or vision (the yang aspect of wood). Spring is the time to do this inner reflection and exploration.
I am a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a Heart-centered practice in the Santa Cruz mountains. See my About page for more about me and the work I do.