Peach Blossoms in early Spring
"The mysterious powers of Spring create wind in heaven and they create wood upon the earth. Within the body they create muscles and of the five viscera they create the liver. Of the colors they create the green color…and they give to the human voice the ability to form a shouting sound. In times of excitement and change they create the capacity for control…of the orifices they create the eyes, of the flavors they create the sour flavor, and of the emotions they create anger." —Nei Ching
Spring is the season of new growth, of expansion, of birth and creativity. In the five element cycle this is the energy of wood. Spring is the time to reclaim our creative self. To be healthy our spirit must express itself in the world. In Oriental Medicine aspects of the soul or spirit are attributed to bodily centers. Each element or aspect of the soul feeds its special energy to the body. To heal, we must become whole and bring our souls back into our bodies. Spring is the time for healing illnesses that originate from the loss of power.
Wood energy is the energy of appropriate anger and assertion. When out of balance it is expressed through constant anger and frustration that can lead to sadness and resignation. The Liver, one of the wood organ system meridians, is the most affected by these emotions. The "Hun" or animal soul resides in the liver. It is similar to a term in Western Psychology known as the anima. It is our creative self that makes changes in the outer world. It is that self that inspires movement that reaches for what we need. The Chinese classics say the Liver likes orderly reaching. Our spirit is meant to reach for what it needs, like the growing plant that pushes through the darkness of the soil. In Chinese medicine, the Liver 'combs' the blood; it keeps the Qi or life force flowing smoothly in all directions. Without action our dreams and ideas literally become stuck in our bodies. When we are anything less than the self we are truly meant to be, we become that frustration in our bodies because our spirits must express ourselves in the world.
Physical symptoms from an imbalanced Liver can be signs to pay attention to the call of the soul to restructure our lives. Some of these are the common symptoms of PMS: tears, sadness, frustration, irritation, bloating and breast tenderness. The symptoms of Fibromyalgia: muscle pain, fatigue and depression. The allergy symptoms of tearing, itchy, red eyes, sinus pain and stuffiness can arise from an imbalanced Liver. Migraines and Impotence is also a sign of Liver imbalance. All the decisions you make not to express your creativity, or act assertively, or acknowledge what you are really feeling contribute to an overburdened Liver. When Qi is not flowing freely, it stagnates in the Liver, this stuck energy, like friction creates heat which rises in the body. Blood congeals and the muscles and tendons are not nourished causing pain and restricted movement.
Each element has a yin meridian and a yang meridian partner. While the yin meridian processes the predominate emotion of that element, the yang meridian processes the mental attitude. The Liver's partner is the Gall Bladder. Headaches, neck, and shoulder tensions can arise from the Gall Bladder meridian. Gall Bladder tension accompanies the excessive need to control. Wood energy that is balanced confers courage, the ability to act assertively and flow with the environment.
Anything but a neutral open mind blocks the free flow of Qi in the body. There is an ancient Daoist saying:
Blood follows energy
Energy follows mind
Mind follows spirit
Spirit follows the Dao
Oriental meridian therapy is based on the concept of Qi, the bioelectricity circulating throughout the body. Qi becomes digestion, movement, thought, emotion, etc. depending on what it moves through. Feelings, injuries and hurts are all expression of energy moving in a certain way. The word 'e-motion' actually means to move out. Often we experience emotional or physical tension where we have failed to express an emotion, thus blocking our energy flow. Mind becomes then a set of crystallized patterns that limits our awareness. This creates physical tension or armoring in our musculature. The ancient Chinese classic the Nei Ching says: where there is pain there is blockage. It is said the Dao will break through anything that gets in its way. Acupuncture or Acupressure lets the Qi flow freely again, and then the energy will change because that is its nature. Often this is felt as tingling or streaming of energy. It can be accompanied by expressions of physical and emotional release such as sighs and tears. The origin of the word emotion gives a clue to how it can be understood. "E" means "out" and therefore E-motion actually means to move out. Releasing trapped emotions and attitudes are essential to healing. There are no psychosomatic illnesses in Oriental medicine because the emotions and all bodily processes share the same energy pathways.
All emotions have their own biomolecules that can accumulate in the blood when the Liver is overburdened with chemicals and drugs. Emotions will stay longer in the body with a toxic Liver.
Biochemically, the Liver performs hundreds of processes that clean and maintain the quality of the blood and detoxify poisons. The Liver works to remove excess hormones and neurotransmitters such as estrogen and adrenalin from the blood. It keeps endorphins circulating and removes lactic acid. The Liver stores glycogen and changes it back to glucose to keep a steady supply of energy available to the brain. There are many more functions of the Liver and all are essential to a sense of stable well-being.
On a physical level the Liver can be healed with the plants of spring. Plants extract nutrients from the earth and absorb sunlight to synthesize chlorophyll. Energy production in plants is chemically related to energy production in the human body. Chlorophyll has absorbed the sun's energy which excites the electrons and the plant stores the energy as ATP and releases Oxygen. The body takes in the chlorophyll from plants and replaces the magnesium with iron in a complex chemical process to create hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin carries oxygen in the blood, essential for creating energy on a cellular level. Magnesium is needed in over 300 enzyme reactions, this is one of the reasons the Liver thrives on a green diet. Green plants help keep Blood and Qi flowing abundantly in the body.
Obstacles always arise and like the young plant a person can grow around them. Surprisingly, the body actually releases more pain relieving biochemicals to challenges than to pleasurable experiences. Often blocks to goals arise to push a person back on the right track or Dao. This is the Daoist way of saying we create our own experiences. Jupiter is the planet that corresponds to the wood element and the Liver. With faith and openness a person can expand and grow—in astrological terms, Jupiter's entrance into a chart, will give the person that energy. Its balance in the chart, Saturn, symbolizes the limitations, like rocks in the way of the new plant. The energy of spring often gives us the message just do it. If you are experiencing any of the Liver symptoms listed above, your body may be asking for a change, so listen.
The wood element is an elegant symbol for the natural urge to express oneself and to become what one truly is, to make changes in the environment, its' energy like a blade of grass pushing upward through the earth reaching for the light. Wood captures all the other elements and structures them as a plant grows from a seed and the spirit grows according to the plan of the soul or ones individual Dao.
Dr. Marian Jones, RN, DOM conducts classes and seminars on Traditional Oriental Medicine and Astrology; Energy Diagnosis; Extraordinary Bodywork and Pain Relief.
Copyright Qi Journal 2009 Spring issue.