Nature boldly expresses her creative plan and vision in the spring as plants erupt at the earth’s surface bringing forth their abundant and beautiful blooms. Like the dandelion, whose strength can grow through concrete, we too emerge into spring after our winter rest with clear vision and a sense of purpose. The element wood, in the Chinese Five Element Theory, is the energy of spring that provides us with the sense of renewal and reawakening. Wood, which embodies the energies of our liver and gallbladders, enables us to move forward with confidence, vision, determination, and strike out in new directions!
It is important to take special care of our livers and gall bladders in the spring. When healthy, these organs enable us to move toward what we have set our hearts on. When unhealthy, they can make us short tempered, angry, and indecisive.
What better way to cleanse our bodies and minds than doing a spring detox! As the season beckons us to make ourselves more vibrant, efficient and take action, cleansing is their perfect way to do this. Physically, the liver and gallbladder aid the digestion of fats and oils. Acting as a filter, the liver processes and breaks down for excretion everything that enters our body. Mentally and spiritually they are the decision makers that allow us to make split-second decisions and give us the courage to take action.
As we cleanse our bodies, we also in turn cleanse our minds, emotions and spirits. Anger, the emotion of wood, is a healthy feeling that has a negative connotation in our society. Yet, anger is appropriate, necessary and helpful when setting boundaries. What happens when we ignore our needs and expression over time? Anger builds up. Someone accidentally steps on our foot and instead of exercising an appropriate boundary by saying “please step off my foot”, we might actually shove them and say “Back off!” To help keep in balance, it is important to express our anger when we feel our boundaries are being “stepped on.” It may come out inappropriately at first, but after practicing for a while, it levels out and peace is found within.
Another scenario that brings up anger is when our vision is stifled. We’ve made our intention, set our direction, created our strategy, decided to act, but our plans are thwarted. This can be very frustrating. The best thing to do is to allow ourselves to feel what is coming up, even if it is anger. When we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, no matter which emotion, it gets a chance to be expressed. Only then may it become ready to subside.
The opposite of this scenario is when our vision gets too much power and takes over. We are so fastidious in our plan that nothing ever gets started because it’s never quite right. We get caught up in it being perfect that we can’t see the forest for the trees. This is when we might be lacking some wood energy. The best thing to do is to take a break and come back to it when you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Wood energy gives us the ability to ‘see the big picture’ and allows us to plan and design in all areas of our lives. It gives us confidence in expressing our true nature and manifesting ourselves in the world.
Ways that we can continue to cultivate our wood energy this spring are…
1. Cleanse your body, mind and spirit with a spring detox! Take advantage of the liver and gallbladder power in the spring and clean yourself inside and out!
2. Spend time in nature. Experience the awakening of spring as the buds bloom and the birds sing!
3. Express your anger. The more we allow ourselves to express the anger that bubbles up inside us at the appropriate times with clear communication, the more balance we bring to our lives.
4. Start something new. Just as nature is reinventing itself, we can too. Be creative, make things, do things, and take action.
5. Enjoy food in season. Explore your nearby farmers’ market to discover what spring has to offer.
6. Be in bed by 11pm. The Chinese clock has a designated time for every organ. Liver and gallbladder hours are between 11pm and 3am. Its important for you to be asleep during your liver and gallbladder hours in order for them to rejuvenate during the night. Without this rejuvenation, a back log of toxicity builds up in your body.
The more we allow spring to guide us this season, the stronger and more confident we will be in our vision, clarity, and direction lasting throughout the year. The sun becomes higher in the sky spreading it’s warmth and spring transforms the anger of the wood element into the joy and passion of the fire element which is summer…
Courtney Shelburne, PSMH, LMT