The world is waking up around us. Primroses and daffodils sprinkle gardens with yellow, bluebells build their carpets, bare trees dress themselves in fresh green and the sun lingers in the sky a little longer each day. Its Spring! In Chinese medicine the season of Spring is fuelled by Wood energy. Its the stored energy of winter bursting forth to initiate a new season of growth, birth, rebirth and creativity. The image of a tree beautifully demonstrates the qualities of Wood energy. Healthy trees are rooted deeply in the earth but grow up and out reaching toward the sky. They bend and flex in the wind adapting to their surroundings and changing weather patterns.
The ancient founders of Chinese medicine saw similar qualities within our minds and bodies. Wood energy within us regulates the rhythms of our various systems. It keeps us eating and eliminating properly, sleeping and waking appropriately. It keeps our periods flowing smoothly and on time, it keeps our bodies supple and flexible. Wood energy fuels our imaginations, our dreams and aspirations. It powers all the moves it takes to manifest our ideas into reality. This is true from the small (what to prepare for dinner tonight) to the grand (what is my life’s work).
If Wood energy does not flow smoothly you may have trouble digesting, experience bloating, gas, cramping, constipation or diarrhoea. You may have painful, unpredictable or generally miserable periods. Fertility can be compromised and menopause can become difficult. You may experience painful joints, headaches or migraines. You may feel angry, irritable, depressed or have anxiety. You may feel directionless or unable to follow through with the ambitions you do have. This is not the complete list, but stuck wood energy can disrupt many of the functions of our bodies and our minds undermining our health and sense of well being.
A few simple things you can do on your own to help move stuck wood energy is to go outside, go for a walk, a run, a bike ride- movement begets movement. Breathe in the Spring air, see the Spring colours, surround yourself with green. Green is the colour of spring, wear it! Put bare feet directly on the earth or in the sand at the beach, stretch your arms up and out and take some deep into the belly breathes, exhale and release the worries of your day. Drink camomile tea, peppermint tea or nettle tea. Eat dark leafy greens. Squeeze lemon into your water. Eat pickles. Sour is the flavour of spring, eat sour stuff. Cut back on saturated fats, over processed food, chemically adulterated foods, and over sweetened foods. These tend to slow down Wood energy. Imagine a future that you’d like to achieve, then make a plan, write a list, draw a picture to kickstart the creative process.
Chinese medicine finds the phenomena we observe outside in nature within us as well and holds that we are a web of physicality, emotions and mental activity. These categories are not separate from one another, but a blend of interconnectedness. Health and well being is reflected not only in how well our bodies function but the status of our relationships (the stage of the emotions) and the acuity our mental activity. To treat one is to treat all of them. I’ve outlined some ways that Wood energy plays out in our bodies and minds and hope that some of these suggestions will help activate your own Wood energy, allowing it to flow smoothly and for you to feel in tune with awakening energy of Spring.
Jill McGovan, LAc