It's spring. Hooray! Gone are those quiet, still days of winter where we were all hunkered down wearing big jumpers with the curtains closed. It's time to re-emerge into nature and join the time of rebirth.
Welcome to Wood
Whilst winter is the time of the Water element in Chinese medicine, spring is the time of Wood. And the energy attributed to the Wood element is Yang in nature - dynamic, warm, outward and upward-moving and with the strength to force its way through concrete, like that determined little seedling you see breaking through the tarmac of a pavement. So when we move into spring, we leave behind all that rest and the emphasis on storage, and emerge into the open once more, ready to take on life again.
What does Wood energy do for us emotionally?
The organs associated with the Wood element are the Liver and the Gall Bladder. Chinese medicine believes that emotionally the Liver is responsible for planning and the Gall Bladder is responsible for making decisions. Thus, when our Wood energy is strong and flowing smoothly, we have the power within us to move forward fluidly in life, with purpose and without obstacle or frustration.
How about physically?
Simply put, the smooth running of Wood energy means the smooth running of our bodies. Both the Liver and Gall Bladder are responsible for nourishing our tendons so that our joints can move freely and without pain. The Liver also has an important role to play in blood production and storage. This means that we are able to rest properly and also exercise without difficulty. This nourishing smooth flow that we look for in Wood energy is vital in ensuring regularity and harmony in our bodies' natural rhythms, such as those of digestion and menstruation.
What happens when our Wood energy isn't behaving itself?
Liver energy is renowned for getting stuck or 'stagnating'. This stagnation can affect us both emotionally and physically. We may become irritable or depressed, hemmed in and as though we can't move on in life. Physically, Wood energy may be unable to flow up and out as it should do. This can result in digestive problems, such as the symptoms of IBS, menstrual difficulties like PMT, cramps and breast pain, headaches, and painful and inflexible joints and tendons.
What causes an imbalance in Wood energy?
The energy of the Wood element can be disturbed by a number of factors, the most common of which is emotional stress, which causes it to stagnate. It can also be hampered by an inadequate and/or irregular diet, which can lead to an energy deficiency, and lack of physical exercise.
How can I take my Wood energy in hand to make the most of spring?
1. Be outside - spending time outdoors engaged in physical activity is a great way to get your energy flowing smoothly, everything from gardening or cycling to tai chi or qi gong. Exercise can help to clear stagnated energy, improving mood, physical flexibility and digestion.
2. Eat spring-like - now is the time for lots of green leaves, especially spinach. Here is a lovely article on what to eat in spring to keep your Liver and Gall Bladder in tip top condition http://www.healthygreenkitchen.com/spring-eating-tips.html
3. Obviously I'm going to say have acupuncture! But by keeping your Wood energy in check through a course of acupuncture, you can help address a myriad of health problems from insomnia to IBS to PMT.
Onwards and upwards!