Springtime and the Wood Phase
In Chinese medicine, the Wood Element or Phase is associated with springtime. The wood Element embodies the energies of birth, growth and regeneration. The physical aspect includes the liver and gallbladder. These spring organs are overworked in our modern lives by emotional, physical and environmental stress. Exercise helps to release the stress and also massage the liver, and lose those couple pounds we put on in the winter months. Spring is also a great time for detoxification. Eating fresh dandelion greens, spring onions, and sour foods like lemons, vinegar, and sauerkraut can all help to support the liver. It has been shown that the good lactic acid bacteria produced in fermented foods like sauerkraut and vegi-kraut degrade organophosphorus insecticides and also chelate heavy metals. Oil pulling, can be quite helpful too. Descriptions and instructions for oil pulling and how to do a liver gallbladder flush have links from the Home Page via Some Basic Articles and Therapies link.
There are 4 levels of influence associated with each element. The spiritual aspect of the wood element is the ability to be in contact with our essence in a way that informs us of our life's plan.You have heard the saying "you can't see the forest for the trees." A healthy liver allows us to do just that; to get the big picture as well as the details. The mental aspect of the liver is the ability to formulate a plan and take advantage of the moment to implement it. The gallbladder helps us make the moment to moment decisions. The paired organs work together to help us be in the present moment rather than stuck in the past or anticipating the future. The decision-making faculties of the gallbladder transmit the potential the liver envisions and helps manifest the plans into action.
The physical aspect of the wood include the actual organs of the liver and gallbladder, as well as the tendons, ligaments, the eyes, and the course of the liver and gallbladder meridians. In spring, many of us begin gardening and exert ourselves quite hard after a winter of less physical activity. It helps to stretch before beginning and then sip on, or drink within 15 minutes following a workout, an electrolyte drink to prevent the build-up of harmful lactic acid and sore muscles. You can make your own lemonade, ideally using raw unpasteurized honey to sweeten, or raw cane sugar, (dissolve first in some warm water) and add Celtic or Himalayan salt or Micro Electrolytes. Another option is coconut water. Eating less protein (7-8 ounces/day) also helps.
Another physical aspect of the wood is the way the liver governs the blood. PMS is always an indication that the liver is stressed. Blood that flows, and is rich and full, makes us comfortable with ourselves and ensures a healthy self esteem. Enough blood and ch'i allows us to be as big as we are; to take up our rightful place in the world.
The function of the wood element is to empower, through its virtue of benevolence, the interpenetration of the deepest aspects of the self (the essence or Jing, the water and will) with the outermost radiance and radiation of our branches. It ensures a flow between the water and the fire, between our will essence and our heart. Physically it is located between the water and fire on the medicine wheel.
The emotion associated with the wood is anger. The true definition of anger is "the ch'i that accompanies the growth of plants." When we begin something new, we always have a bit of an edge of resistance before we can break through into the new creation. It is a natural law. Everything new has this edge. Just like the blade of grass that has to push up through the mantle of the earth, or the seed that comes up against an obstacle, like rocks or compacted dirt, that it must find its way around. So too do we have to move through that edge of resistance. Anger can be used to break through this obstacle. Anger can break boundaries as well as make boundaries, like the mother, who yells, "no," when she sees her child beginning to do something dangerous. Anger used as a creative thrust, is not ugly. Anger can become twisted or distorted though, by our mind. Over time, If we are holding a lot of old unresolved anger, imprinted in our mind in a habitual pattern with a belief or an assumption, then, instead of a primary emotion it gets twisted into the secondary reactive emotion of resentment. Often when we express anger it is not very pretty, as it is tinged with these old unresolved issues and feelings of resentment.
Many people, not knowing the natural laws, perceive the resistance at the edge of growth as an affront to them. They either back off and see it as failure due to a lack of self-esteem or they become the bully, and push aggressively forward, regardless of the consequences to anything or anyone who gets in their way. Many times they end up sabotaging themselves. They might say, "every time I try to start something or grow in any direction, life cuts me down." This leads to more frustration, anger and resentment. Lost in habitual imprints and patterns around unresolved issues, we lose touch with the creative aspects of anger that furthers life and supports our capacity for directional, creative growth. We also lose our ability for regeneration or rejuvenation. Instead we began to degenerate.
Resolution of past anger and obstructions involves forgiveness of self and others, returning energy to its right place, releasing judgments of right and wrong and accepting that the actions in the past were the best that could be done at that time. In other words letting go of the shoulds: should have been, should be, should do. It is time to stop “shoulding” on ourselves or others. When we find ourselves reacting, instead of acting, it helps to thank the mind for sharing and quiet it. Sh-h-h-h-h, we might tell it, from a more heart centered response. We can also find a safe space to move the anger where it will not hurt someone else or sabotage ourselves. Try stomping and punching the air, or throwing out your hand with fingers spread wide, while you shout Shu. Once the anger has played itself out, gather in the energy to fill up that space where the anger resided with the new understandings and creative energy to help you manifest what you were once blocked from expressing. This second step is very important. Be sure to fill up with what you want. Use your imagination.
The energy of wood and the organ, liver, is all about imagination and the manifestation and free flow of ch'i, blood and life. I wish you a happy spring and many wonderful manifestations of life in all its diversity.