With the fading of the cold winds come the first signs of spring – the daffodils and crocus poking their green shoots out of the ground; the first sighting of a robin; the geese flying north. All nature seems to take a deep breath and poise for a surge of growth.
With this upward-springing thrust of stems and trunks and sprouting leaves, it’s no surprise that Wood is the element of Spring in Chinese Five Element tradition. From the deep, dark, inward-looking Yin of Winter, we are jumping to the Yang of active outward growth and greening – time to put your Wintertime dreams and visions into action!
The Liver and Gall Bladder are the organs related to Spring and Wood in traditional Chinese medicine. They are associated with planning and decision-making…and this fits well with the new growth burgeoning on all sides.
If your Wood element is out of balance and your Liver and Gall Bladder are not functioning properly, you may find yourself acting on your visions without planning, for example, or stifling them without taking action. When this happens, the Spring energy of planning and discernment can cause irritability, even anger, shouting, and tears…or, on the other hand, to a frustrated inability to express or implement your dreams. This inward paralysis can lead to a slow burn and disastrous explosion of anger, or to your anger being turned inward and showing up as depression.
So what is the best way to stay balanced, conscious, peaceful and healthy this spring?
On the purely physical level, you can support your Liver by sweeping away any stagnant energy from the Winter’s processing and clearing the decks for action. Talk with your nutritionist about setting up a simple diet of organic fruits and veggies and (of course) fresh pure water. Be sure to include spring greens, artichokes, and asparagus, and herbs such as milk thistle and burdock root, all of which are superb liver tonics. To clear your system even better, consider a 1-3 day cleanse under your wellness coach’s supervision. You’ll be amazed at the way your energy and outlook on life improve!
But that’s not all you can do to clear and clean your mental energy. Try taking a break from the computer and television once or twice a day, and going outside and enjoying nature. Talk with your wellness coach about setting up a exercise program. You’ll strengthen your muscles and tendons, sweat out even more toxins, and get the endorphins flowing for mental clarity and emotional bliss.
To cleanse and ground your spirit, tap into the green and growing energy of the season by connecting with Mama Earth in any way you can. Go out for long rambling walks in a park and spend time just sitting under a tree, listening to the wind and watching the clouds and birds soar overhead. Or try planning and planting a garden, whether you’re out in the country with acres to farm or in a tiny apartment with just a balcony, window boxes, or even window sills! No matter where you are, you can make space for green and growing things that will boost chi, freshen the air, and remove toxins and electromagnetic fields.
Here’s a springtime mind/body/spirit grounding exercise that will last you through the whole year: go out to your favorite place in nature at the same time every day. Spend at least 15 minutes there just looking – really looking – and connecting with all the beings there, from the tiniest bugs and worms to the tallest trees. Do animals and birds pass by when you sit very quietly? Pay attention even to the quality of the soil – is it sandy or clayey, hard-packed or loose and rich? Are the stones crumbly or solid, tiny gravel or large boulders? What small shoots are starting to emerge? Sit quietly, emptying your mind, and listen – what do you hear?
Now reach deeper – choose one of the beings in this special space and put yourself in its place. Imagine how it would feel to live here, what pleasures and challenges you would face. Is this a life you would choose if you could? Empty your mind and listen with your spirit: what does this space and its beings want to tell you?
Come back to visit this spot as often as you can throughout the spring…and through the year if it calls you. See how it changes through the seasons. Bring your sketch pad or your journal to record what you see, hear, feel, sense. Make it your spot for relaxation and contemplation and renewal.
Finally: while you are out in your special space, ask yourself: what are the qualities you want to bring into your life, what are the changes you want to make, and how can they best be achieved? Be aware – the seeds that you plant now will bear the harvest of autumn, to be stored for winter, so choose and plant them, literally and metaphorically, with care!