The Wood Element


branches with ice and bells Shaolin Wahnam Twin Cities
Wood is the dominant element in spring time

Got wood?


Sorry, my inner fifth grader couldn’t resist.


Spring is beginning to come to life and shake off the cold of winter. Even today, as I sit writing this, though it’s chilly out and there’s a fine glaze of ice on everything, it’s undeniable that spring is in the air. With the welcome arrival of this new season of growth and rebirth, it’s time to talk about Five Element theory again and the dominance of the Wood Element, whose energy is once again making itself known.


You’ll remember from my posts about the Metal Element and the Water Element that Five Element theory is a way to describe the most prevalent elements in nature. From understanding the characteristics of these elements, we can understand the nature of the energy of each passing season and how to best live in harmony with it.


A discussion on the Wood Element is most appropriate here not only because of its seasonality, but also because its very nature tends to make us a little bonkers as we shift into a Wood Element Dominant time of year. Why is this? The energetic nature of wood is that of growing upward and outward freely, or orderly reaching, as one of my herbalism mentors put it. In the world around us, this is seen in the new growth of plants, trees, and shrubs stretching themselves out in the waxing warmth and light of spring.


One thing to consider with energy that wants to go up and out freely, is that it can stagnate much more easily. Energy that stagnates can cause a variety of different things, including irritability. Things that stagnate energy are all around us and take such delightful forms as the duties of adulting, conflict with people, morons on social media, politics, pandemics… You get my drift. As our energy naturally shifts away from the still and quiet of the Water Element and into the movement of Wood, we can struggle at first with this increase in movement before finally finding our stride with it. Think about it, have you noticed feeling more irritable in the past few weeks? That’s because your energy is shifting and trying to fall into harmony with the season. In fact, this process is so cyclical that we acupuncturists notice it when we see so many people come into our clinics feeling agitated and think, ah, the Wood Element is arriving again.


I find a little knowledge is power, and having insight into this energetic shift can help improve your mood when you know why it’s happening. At the very least, you understand that you’re not crazy, and that it’s just the universe turning again as it always does. Move in harmony with this element to help improve your mood. Enjoy sour foods such as the delicious citrus currently in season (sour is the flavor of the Wood Element), get exercise with plenty of movement to keep your Qi smooth, and of course, practice Qigong with lots of Qi flow and you’ll find that you quickly feel more in touch with the Wood Element of spring.


Want to get your spring started off on the path of growth and expansion? Sign up for my upcoming class on the 18 Jewels, a simple but powerful set of therapeutic exercises. You can join me in person or on the live stream. You deserve to thrive.

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