Seasonal Health – Spring: the Wood Element
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Like all ancient cultures, the ancient Chinese lived in close relationship with nature. Their experience and understanding of the cycles of growth and decline that manifested in day and night summer and winter influenced how they thought and acted in every aspect of their lives, including medicine.
These Chinese sages tell us that a well-ordered, long life depends on living in harmony with the depth of quiet and peacefulness of winter, the blossoming and new beginnings of spring, the warmth and radiance of summer, the savory fullness of late summer and the clear, light inspiration of fall. They named each of these seasons after one of the 5 elements and declared that all of creation is made of Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. These seasons, or elements, are seen in nature. Each season has a particular quality and role to play in our gardens, in farmer’s fields and in our lives – they exist inside each one of us and in all of life.
The season of spring is now rising in each of us. The transition from winter to spring is a dramatic one. Winter is very quiet and dark, very yin by nature, while spring is bursting out, pushing up, colorful, and yang by nature. We begin life anew in the spring. Our ambition and motivation comes more easily and naturally in the spring. Green comes back into the world. There is a stirring of “youthfulness” in us and in the air.
In Chinese philosophy Spring is the season of the wood element. Wood has to do with making plans and making decisions. The Wood element within us dictates our creativity. Anger is an emotion that energetically rises up; it makes for clear boundaries, and cuts a path through whatever is happening to ensure it gets done. The organs or officials associated with spring are the Liver and the Gallbladder. In the kingdom of the body/mind/spirit the Liver is the General in charge of the strategic planning and the Gallbladder is the Judge of what is pure and right for us. People with wood element imbalances may have problems with anger or making decisions and following through. Wood imbalances may manifest as problems you’re your liver and/or gallbladder, physical pain, depression, sleep irregularities, and hopelessness to name a few. Health wood moves smoothly and unobstructed. In a healthy life we need moderation. Wood needs to be flexible and supple. The wood element rules all movement; movement in our body, clarity of our thoughts, hopefulness of our spirit. Good wood within us is organized, creative, and moves us forward in life.
Now is a good time to think about your own life vision and make some plans. The promise of spring has returned once again.
Written by Sally Laux RN, M.Ac.