Tomorrow is the spring equinox, marking the season of the wood element in the ancient Chinese Medicine system of the Five Elements. On an energetic level, this springtime energy within each of us is the dimension of ourself 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 the wood element that many of us can connect with is a redwood tree. Strongly rooted in the earth, they are able to sway in 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 quality of wood and springtime.
When the wood element within us is healthy, we are able to sway with the external winds of life without either snapping or collapsing (wind being the climate quality associated with this element). 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 may find ourselves "snapping" at everything! Irritability, frustration, and even rage are often signs of stagnant liver energy (the liver being the organ associated with wood).
Or, conversely, there can be a sense of totally collapsing in the face of challenges, a feeling of hopelessness and 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 a mighty tree. This can also manifest as feeling insecure, self-judging, unrooted, 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, which is one of the two organs associated with wood (the gallbladder is the other). The liver is a pretty resilient organ, if you think about it! It works to continually detoxify the body (not an easy task in our day and age of unprecedented toxic burdens), and yet it also continues to regenerate and carry out so many vital-- essential-- physiological functions on a minute-by-minute basis.
On an energetic level, when we are resilient we are able to keep going on our path in life, even if we encounter obstacles. We don't give up, and we don't bang our head against the wall either! Healthy wood means being patient, calling on our creativity for problem-solving, and staying resilient even when the winds of life get rough. After all, wind is what carries the seeds and pollen of new beginnings, so being able to bend and flow with the winds of change is an essential piece to a balanced inner life.
Interestingly, the wood element is also associated with vision and eye health, and thus energetically 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 and higher perspective is important. One of my favorite acupuncture points that supports healthy wood has a spirit-level quality of allowing one to get a higher perspective, as though climbing to the top of a mountain out of a thick, dark forest. "Wilderness Mound" is about getting to a place where you can really get a panoramic view of life, and see the big picture. Another acupuncture point I love is the very last point on the liver channel; its name translates as "Gate of Hope." This point embodies the beauty of Wood and Springtime: hopefulness, a VISION (and plan) for a better future, and an unwavering aspiration to grow towards the light.
To really feel what the energetic quality of the Wood element is, I invite you to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech. All of the virtues of the Wood element are represented here: vision, leadership, benevolence, justice, freedom, an elevated perspective, a call for radical growth, and stirring the winds of change. When you watch this video, see if you can feel your own Wood element, and all of those qualities, stir in resonance with this powerful embodiment of this element...
Spring is the perfect time to focus on the health of our wood element, 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. We can ask ourselves, how have I grown this past year? What was a big opportunity for growth? In what areas do I still need to grow? What is it that I aspire towards? What are my goals for this next growing season, and what is my plan for achieving them? What do I perceive as my obstacles, and how can I overcome them? Wood is the part of us that can hold a goal or a vision for the future (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).
In addition to exploring the inner teachings of the wood element, spring is also the best time of year to support the physiological health of the liver, which is the yin organ associated with wood. This is why each year in the Spring I offer my guided spring cleanse program. This two week program is a wonderful way to clarify and set health goals, and to have a solid plan for achieving them (a plan is something the wood element loves!). In this healing program (which is NOT a derivational fast, by the way) you are given a two-week nutritional plan with recipes, based on a liver-supportive and anti-inflammatory diet. You also receive three personal healing sessions with me which will clear stagnant energy and support the health and vitality of the body's organs, especially the liver.
I have been offering this seasonal healing program for several years now, using a synergistic combination of acupuncture, massage, nutrition, herbs, and lifestyle counseling. Clients find it to be incredibly helpful for getting on the right track with their health, and many report back with significant improvements in their hormonal, emotional, digestive, immune, and overall mind/body health. For more details and information about how this individualized healing program can help you, simply follow this link, or you can email me directly with your questions.
When we commit the time and space to our healing process - be it healing on the level of body, mind, or spirit- we do so not only for ourselves, but also for the betterment of all those with whom we share our lives. When we feel better and are more balanced, we have more of ourselves to give in service to humanity and our planet. As a healer who works on all of these levels of healing, I would be honored to help YOU become healthier, happier, and more centered within your true nature this spring.
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.