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Staying balanced in Spring time – The Gift of the Wood Element

Spring is finally here. Everywhere we see growth, rebirth, vitality, and renewal. Like the leaves bursting out of the trees, Spring energy encourages us to move ‘upwards and outwards’ and grow.

We are ready to get moving and be more active. It’s the time for our energy reserves that were harnessed in the winter to be put into action. Finally the seed under ground is sprouting and we can see the manifestation of the energy that has been stored and replenished in the winter.

In Five Element acupuncture Spring is the gift of the Wood Element. Like the energy of Spring, Wood energy wants to rise up, push through, envision a plan, make decisions, and get things done. Wood energy supports a vision for the future, yearns for creativity, and leadership. It grants us the confidence to surge forth with the power of the Spring.

After a long year of challenges, we are especially ready to get out and get moving. So what is the best approach to take as we move forward this Spring? We can look to the Wood Element for guiding us in our vision for this Spring.

The Wood Element functions through the organs of the Liver and the Gall Bladder. They rule the smooth flow of energy and blood in the body and regulate all of the emotions. They are our first responses to the stresses in our lives. The wood element teaches us about having a vision for our life, growth, flexibility, and adaptability. Growth is a positive process that expands our potential, yet our vision must also remain flexible to succeed.

The energetic function of the liver 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. The energetic function of the Gall Bladder is the Official of Decision Making, granting us the ability to make decisions and judge wisely. Making a decision is not always a matter of choosing between equal alternatives. Through these officials we can see both new possibilities and the wisdom of the past, to therefore see a clear and appropriate future course to take. Without Wood’s vision, a plan, decision and direction, no movement is possible – and there is often frustration.

The Wood element governs our sense of vision, the emotion of anger, and the sound of shouting. When our vision is stifled, we may feel anger: we’ve made our plan, decided to act, and suddenly our plans are thwarted. We may feel anger and frustration and want to shout. We may feel irritable, depressed, and lose focus or hope for the future. Sometimes when we are out of balance, we identify with only one position and become attached to it. We may lose our wise judgment.

When our Wood energy is healthy, we can take a step back, be flexible, adapt, change direction, stay hopeful, readjust our plans, and begin again. We can forgive ourselves and eachother and not become too rigid or unyielding in our approach to life. Like a tree that bends in the wind, a balanced Wood energy is well rooted and can find a flexible path to express itself in a strong and healthy way.

Healthy Wood energy acknowledges the inherent self-esteem in ourself and each other. It honors the spirit of each person’s inherent need to manifest who they are. The Wood Element grants us the space and the vision for each person to grow and become their unique self – to be the ‘tree’ you are meant to be. We can see this wisdom in the harmony of all things within Nature, that includes the co-existence of every living unique being.

Here are some ways to move your Wood energy and stay balanced in the Spring.

Get moving. Moving helps to keep your energy flowing properly. It can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk, or stretching the muscles, tendons and ligaments. All of these will help to support your Wood Element in the Spring time.

Get creative. Take time to really think and feel about what you want to be, and what direction you want your life to go.

Write down your vision, intention, and dreams for your future. Take time to make a plan so you can make the right decisions to realize your vision. Maybe you need someone’s help you achieve your goals. Maybe you are the leader that wants to offer help for someone else to realize their dreams.

Try essential oils. Lavender, peppermint, chamomile, lemon, and bergamot essential oils help to move the energy in the liver and gall bladder channels. Sandalwood oil is especially nourishing and grounding.

Drinking herbal teas like lemon, peppermint or chamomile can help to support the Liver and Gall Bladder channels.

The wood element likes sour food (like kimchi and yogurt), light meals with lots of greens (the color of the wood element). Bitter greens like dandelion, nettles, and arugula can be helpful to cleanse the liver and gallbladder and promote better digestion.

Avoid too many rich, heavy, greasy foods, or too much alcohol as that may congest the liver and gall bladder. This can also lead to inflammation and other diseases.

Sleep is also an essential time for replenishing the liver and gall bladder to recover from the stresses of the day.

Spring is also a good time to try a liver or gall bladder cleanse, or adapt to a healthier diet.

These are all ways to help support your Wood Element, to nourish your vision, and to continue to grow. Make plans and decisions that align with who you are meant to be. Stay flexible, be creative, and hopeful to achieve your goals. In all these ways you can support your Wood energy and stay balanced and healthy in the Spring.

The Energetics of Stress and Ways to Stay Balanced During this Time

This has been a very stressful time for nearly everyone. Our already busy and challenging lives have been tested to the limit.  We are worn down from coping and the demands of trying to maintain some form of ‘normal’ life.

You may have experienced difficulties in any number of ways: in maintaining your health, or getting sick, or financially, or in relationships, family, and friends, or boredom or loneliness. All of this can take a cumulative toll on our health and well-being.

Stress can be very draining and demanding on our energy. Over time if the stress is not resolved it builds up and creates symptoms that show up in a variety of ways, at the physical, mental/emotional, or spirit level. Stress effects each person’s energy differently, depending on their energetic make-up. It can bring up symptoms in the area where we are most vulnerable. If we have low back pain it can get worse. If we have headaches or anxiety, they can become more pronounced. It can also create a new and different symptom, as an organ’s energy becomes more depleted.

Stress is like any other symptom. It is a call for help, that something is out of balance and needs support. The most important thing about stress is that it is a real issue to acknowledge and address, however it shows up. Stress is often related to another issue or situation. When we only focus on that issue, the effects of stress may go unnoticed.

Stress can be very overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start. The first step is to bring to consciousness everything you are thinking or feeling about it.

Take some time to identify the most major issue you are struggling with. Start to see all the aspects of it and how it is affecting you on different levels – for example on the practical, mental/emotional, physical level, and spirit level.

Write down everything that comes up for you. By writing them down, you are already moving your own energy and creating a healing space to understand and address the stress. There may be small practical steps you can take. You can begin to see what you really need to feel more balanced, more whole.

Things may be out of our control. Yet by getting in touch with how stress affects us we can begin to control how we respond to it.  We can take steps to lessen its impact. And like any symptom, it can become a teacher for what we really need for our well-being.

Stress has an emotional component that relates to our energy flow.

Here are some ways that may help you to move your energy to release stress.

If you are feeling fear and anxiety, the energy is often building up in the head and not getting to the feet to ground you. Find a quiet place and do breathing exercises to quiet the mind. Give yourself a foot massage to bring the energy down to your feet.

If you are feeling angry or frustrated acknowledge that and forgive yourself for not being as productive as you’d like to be. Find something creative to do to engage your energy. Think of a small practical step you can take.

If you are feeling sad or lonely know you are not alone. Reach out to connect with a friend or loved one. They’ll be glad you did.

If you are feeling ungrounded or unsupported be sure you are eating well to nourish yourself. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Ask for support and receive the nourishment of those who love you.

If you are feeling loss and miss your friends and family, go outside in the fresh air, breathe deeply and take in the inspiration of nature. Acceptance is a way to release loss. Come up with new ways to connect to friends and family. If you are drained from many demands take time to yourself, to be alone to restore your tranquility and balance.

In these ways we can stay in touch with Nature and our energy. Although we cannot control certain realities right now, we can learn what our internal energy needs, and take steps to feel more balanced.  My hope is that we all learn from this time and are able to live more connected to ourselves and each other, and to make the future a more meaningful one for all of us.

Tips for Staying Healthy and Balanced in the Winter Season

Winter is a time for slowing down. Like the seed underground, we also need time for storing up and conserving energy.  We have moved from the Fall, of leaves falling and the season of release and letting go, to receiving the time of Winter, the most Yin time of year, a time of rest, stillness, and replenishment of our deepest resources. It is the time for the roots to grow deeper underground, to support growth for the coming Spring.

In Chinese Medicine the Winter Season is the phase of the Water Element.

Water is about our ability to flow and to overcome obstacles.  To understand the attributes of water in ourselves think of the many ways water presents itself in Nature.  Our Water energy can resemble a mighty river or a trickling stream, the waves of the ocean, a frozen lake, a gentle rain.

Water is a transformative substance. When we take the time to be quiet and internal, and ‘be’ in our Water energy, we allow a transformative process to occur.

The body/physical gift of Water Element is rest, solitude, to re-balance and replenish our reserves. When we have enough reserves, we have strength, drive and ambition to reach our fullest potential. We can manage our physical energy in a balanced way, not overdoing or being fearful of taking risks and trying new things.

The mind/emotional gift of Water is trust, faith, courage, and the renewal of our self-essence and blueprint for our lives.  What if we are out of balance? We can feel fear, anxiety, and stress from not being able to live our fullest lives.

The spirit gift of Water is the will, to persevere and adapt, to nurture our intuition, and tap into our creative, internal energy to manifest who we are. The Water Element grants us the capacity to more deeply discover the essence of our self, and to grow ‘roots’ that anchor ourselves in who we are.


Keys to staying balanced in the Winter season.


Allow yourself to be quiet and listen to your deepest self-essence.

Stay warm, reduce outward activity to conserve your energy in the colder, darker months.

Take a quiet walk outside in the fresh air, listen to relaxing music, read books or listen to books on tape. Take care of yourself, take a soothing bath or a hot foot soak. If you can, get a massage or an Acupuncture treatment to stay balanced.

Discover more about yourself through reflection, being more aware of your senses, paying attention to your dreams. The winter season is an especially good time to begin the practice of meditation.

Do more moderate exercise like Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates.

Daily vitamins can help to keep your immune system strong: try taking multi- vitamins and multi-minerals, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D.

Drink lots of warm herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger tea, and Bengal Spice. Eat warm foods, like soups, plenty of steamed vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Try dishes made with whole grains, squashes, beans, peas, and dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, and bok choy.

Avoid too many cold foods and drinks. Although it is hard this time of year, try to have less sugar and dairy, as they will deplete your immune system.


Drink plenty of good quality water.

Stay warm, cover the back of your neck to not let the cold wind enter your body, as this is what can cause colds and flus.  Cover your low back area, to protect your kidneys, and your reserves of energy.

We are especially reminded during this COVID-19 pandemic to practice preventative health measures to maintain our strength and resilience, and to keep our immune system strong.

This is the wisdom of Water: the effortless response to its environment, adapting to change, yielding yet persevering, the courage to stay the course, staying rooted to one’s essence.

Spring always follows Winter. We don’t know what that will look like, yet if we have followed Nature’s way and allowed ourselves to be immersed in Winter’s gift of rest and replenishment, we will emerge in Spring with restored, vibrant energy, a clear vision, and a more rooted sense of purpose in our life.

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