Spring may still feel like it's a ways off, but the Chinese calendar marks today as the first day of Spring. If you pay close attention, you can sense its beginnings. Maybe a bird lands on a tree branch that hasn't had any visitors all winter. Maybe patches of grass are starting to reveal themselves from under the snow. Maybe the air has a certain shift in how it wraps itself around you and you feel the beginnings of a bit of energy to go out and do the things that winter has kept you from.
That new bit of energy is what Chinese medicine calls "wood." In Chinese Five Element theory, the world, and our bodies, can be observed through the interactions of five elements- Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. Each of these elements correlates to seasons, organs, tissues, and bodily functions. These correlations allow us to understand the Chinese adage "As above, so below," meaning that what we see outside of us is reflected inside of us.
Spring is ruled by wood. This is an element of growth, change, planning, and creation. Without room to properly express itself, wood can become angry and righteous. It is the power of a weed to grow through a cement sidewalk, or a dandelion to grow relentlessly in your yard. Wood asks us to move more, to reach out, to dream, and to act. In our bodies, wood rules our circulation and our tendons. It keeps us bending and stretching, and gets our blood moving out to our furthest reaches.
The acupuncture point I always think of most when I consider the wood element is Liver 3. This point is found on the top of the foot in the space between your big toe and your second toe. It is used to improve circulation, reduce stagnation, and can be effective in treating body pain, headaches, dizziness, eye issues, anger and irritability, and helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. For a little spring self care, you can massage this area into the most tender point.
Use this time to start thinking about where in your life you could use a growth spurt. Think about the tight parts of your body that could use a little extra movement. We are just entering the time of year full of the most potential energy- how will you use it?
Leah Rainer, L.Ac
Exploring the science and art of Chinese Medicine.