As the days become warmer and brighter, nature rouses from her winter slumber and looks ahead to the new growth of spring. The Wood, which has been at rest, storing and concentrating its energy under a winter blanket, now bursts forth with new buds, new life piercing Earth's crust. The swelling Wood of spring initiates rebirth - a surge of rising energy, like the young lamb staggering up to nurse, like the dandelion whose growing edge can burst through concrete if it must. Wood is the energy of youth and growth: a new beginning, a vision of a whole new cycle. The Wood energy of spring is an expression of life at its strongest.
If we have followed nature's way and taken a winter rest, we too emerge into spring “raring to go,” with clear vision and a sense of purpose. This is the season to plant seeds for a future harvest, to look ahead and make new plans, formulate new ideas, make decisions, and determine our direction for the coming year - and to take action.
Spring's increasing warmth encourages us to stay outside more than we did in the winter. Warmth comes not only from physical heat, but also from the interaction of friendships and relationships. In this season, we want especially to take advantage of opportunities for growth through the observations and insights that come from others as well as from ourselves. It can be painful to see ourselves through different, and perhaps clearer eyes, particularly aspects of ourselves that we are unaware of. Similarly, it can be difficult to convey an unpalatable truth to others. While the energy of spring supports and challenges us to grow and change, we may feel discomfort from these processes. We can temper our pangs with the warmth of friendship, as well as with the recognition that we all experience growing pains in the process of realizing our potential.
After a winter rest, the power of springtime surges through nature - through us
Springtime is associated with the element Wood. In traditional Chinese medicine, the Wood element represents the liver and the gall bladder. The liver function is called the Official of Strategic Planning, the grand architect for our vision of the future; this official sees the directions we must take to live our lives in harmony with nature. Its companion, the Gall Bladder Official, gives the ability to make decisions and judge wisely. Making a decision is not a matter of choosing between equal alternatives. Through these officials we can see both new possibilities and the wisdom of the past, and thus see the clear and appropriate course to take. Without Wood's vision and plan, decision and direction, no movement is possible - there is only frustration.
The Wood element within us governs our sense of vision, the emotion of anger, and the sound of shouting. When vision is stifled, we feel anger: we've made our plan, decided to act, taken aim, and suddenly our plans are thwarted. We're told: “No, you can't!” Everything that said “Go” is now blocked. At times like this, we commonly feel anger and frustration and want to shout - but then we can level out. If our Wood is healthy, we can readjust and begin again.
What of people whose Wood is chronically imbalanced, who can't level out? Aside from the many problems that can arise in relationship to the liver and gall bladder, imagine the perpetual anger and frustration of those who feel blocked in all directions, to whom every interaction is a confrontation. Such people are unable to experience growth and rebirth - unable to experience springtime within; they sense growth and change happening all around them, yet are stuck inside themselves, their lives so chaotic they can't see a direction, a plan, or even how to begin. Or imagine how it is for the person who can't see the forest for the trees, who is so fastidious that nothing ever gets started because it's never quite right? It's not that one would choose to be this way; but for a person in a state of Wood imbalance, there seems only one choice - this is how it must be.
To help unblock stuck energy, acupuncturists choose among hundreds of acupuncture points, each with its own special quality, each uniquely appropriate for a patient at the right time in treatment. As patients, we can learn about a point's special energy and “spirit” and use that insight to help nature do its healing work. Here, for example, are descriptions of two points on the Wood meridians:
Gall Bladder 24, "Sun and Moon"
Located in the seventh rib space in line with the nipple, and called “Sun and Moon ” The Gall Bladder Official requires clear vision in order to decide on a course of action. All possibilities must be seen and considered. When we are out of balance, we identify with only one position and become attached to it; in so doing, we lose our wise judgment. We see things as either black or white, dark or light. This acupuncture point creates a balance that enables us to see both sides impartially - to see by both the “light of the sun” and the “light of the moon.” From clarity, we can take action with certainty and strength.
Liver 1, “Great Esteem”
Located near the lateral corner of the nail bed of the big toe. This is the first point on the Liver meridian - the beginning of spring growth: the energy is present, the plan formulated, the way clear. Any new undertaking is accompanied by uncertainties and risks, but they must not thwart us in reaching our goal. It is in our nature to grow, to begin anew and take our first steps. “Great Esteem” grants us the confidence to surge forth with the power of springtime - to push ahead, give birth, and grow.
Welcome, spring! Go for it!
Suggestions for living in harmony with the spring season
- Begin your day early, with a brisk walk.
- Feel the sunshine pull you up and out, like the plants and animals. Watch buds rush into leaf, often doubling their size in a day. Look for birds' nests - you'll find them everywhere, even on top of air conditioners. Feel the life within you, like that outdoors, thrust up out of darkness into new possibilities. Make a garden. Eat greens.
- Begin new things - at home, in your work, and in yourself.
- In this season when nature reinvents itself, we too can see people and situations with new eyes. Let new tissue grow over old hurts, and take fresh hope.
- Be creative. Make things, do things. Begin!
- Consider how you wish to make ready for your summer harvest.
- Spring does not last forever. Use its bountiful energy wisely, so that the crops you sow - again, in yourself, in your work, and in your life - are those you wish to harvest.
- The energy of spring brings vision.
Copyright 1997 by Neil Gumenick