Tag Archives: Wood Element

Wood Work

Spring is here again. I know this not just from the calendar, the change in temperature, the blossoms on trees, lambs frolicking and all that. I know it from my bodymind.

To start with, I feel an irresistible urge to tend to my compost pile which has been languishing, cold and stagnant over winter. Yesterday I dug out tools from the shed and turned it all over into the sunshine to dry out and aerate. Getting into the mood, I weeded and fertilised the peas and garlic. Before long I’d lost track of time as I cheerfully tended to tasks I’d been shirking all winter. What was happening? Spring’s Wood energy was rising up my body, fuelling action.

Another way I know it’s spring is that my liver and gall bladder are talking to me again. I feel a slight pressure in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, my liver reminding me that I ate too much gluten and dairy when I travelled interstate last week. Chiming in is gall bladder, giving the occasional squeak as it squirts bile into the duodenum. These are the organs of Wood which can manifest symptoms when this Element isn’t balanced. For someone of a Wood constitution like me, these organs are particularly susceptible. They are a source of information for monitoring my health.

At a recent course I taught, one of the students was having a challenging time around these organs. During several treatments, he experienced a strong vibrating sensation in the upper right quadrant which we tracked to the acupoint Liver 13. This is the alarm point for Spleen but it also reflects the Liver itself. The student revealed that he was going through a significant stage, one requiring a pivotal decision about the fundamental direction of his work life. He also noticed that working on Liver points on another person triggered these same sensations in his own body. And when it came time to make a firm decision in the days after the course, the sensations became extreme.

The capacities of planning and decision making are the province of the Liver and Gall Bladder Officials respectively. This person’s physical symptoms were reflecting what was happening at the psycho-emotional level. And all of this was arising in the springtime when Wood energy is at its highest. There is a long tide which moves around the Five Element Cycle over the course of a year, the high tide passing through the corresponding Element of the season and pushing up against anything that isn’t harmonised. Like a high tide that strains boats whose anchors are too tightly set.

There are a number of other signals that can indicate that Wood is out of balance. These derive from the resonances of the Element. The following table shows some of these resonances of the Wood Element.

Season Spring
Climate Wind
Colour Green
Sound Shouting
Odour Rancid
Emotion Anger
Taste Sour
Sense Vision
Sense Organ Eyes
Yin Organ Liver
Yang Organ Gall Bladder
Tissue Tendons/Ligaments

These resonances are vibrations. For example, spring is the Wood Element vibrating as a season while anger is Wood vibrating as an emotion. When our Wood is out of balance, we may find that our bodymind shows the imbalance through these resonances. Here are some ways this might be revealed:

• Getting sick at the start of spring
• A strong dislike of wind
• Feelings of irritability or outbursts of anger
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Difficulty making plans
• Difficulty making decisions
• Aversion to or craving for sour foods
• Visual disturbances or other eye problems
• Easily nauseated by fatty food
• Congestion in the upper right of the abdomen
• Headaches, especially at the back of the head
• Neck and shoulder stiffness or pain
• Hip and outer leg pain
• Tight tendons
• Stiff joints
• Restlessness, can’t keep still

If you find that you have several of these conditions, your bodymind may be showing you that Wood is calling for attention. These symptoms can appear at any time, but they are more likely to show up in spring when the high tide of the Wood phase pushes up against things that are out of balance. The good news is that by addressing them in the spring, you will have the support of the ambient energy of nature. Here are some ways to work with your Wood.

Add more green foods to your diet: kale and other leafy greens, broccoli, peas and so on. The darker green the better. Eat more foods that are sour in taste: lemon, lime, grapefruit, sauerkraut and other fermented food.

Detoxify. The liver is responsible for cleansing the body of toxins. Doing a liver cleanse by eating simple foods and taking cleansing herbs will be well supported in the springtime. If you’ve been thinking of doing a gall bladder flush, then spring is the best time to do it.

Move. Wood likes to move so get plenty of movement. Walk, hike, run, jump, skip, ride, row, garden, build… whatever makes you feel good in your body. Make sure to stretch before leaping into action.

Shout! Sometimes when Wood is stuck, movement is not enough to dislodge the congestion. Shouting can discharge the energy that has been suppressed. Shout into the wind or in your car on the freeway. Don’t shout at others.

Explore your anger. Most of us learn from an early age that anger is a bad thing because it hurts others. But suppressed anger becomes stored in the body, specifically in the liver, and then starts to hurt us. Anger is seen as bad because it is equated with violence. But anger is not violence. It is the frustration that can arise from operating in a world of limits and boundaries. Try to understand why you are angry. Feel that anger without suppressing it and without venting it. The energy that you get in touch with can be powerful fuel for action.

Hold some acupressure points. Any points that relate to the Liver (LV) and Gall Bladder (GB) will be useful and are more powerful at this time of year. Here are links to some good points discussed in previous blogs:

Acupoint Some Uses
LV 1 Calms restlessness, agitation. The Wood point, it deeply supports the Element.
LV 3 Treats allergies, fatigue, nausea, eyes, irritability. Supports immune system.
LV 13 Promotes smooth flow of Liver Qi, relieves abdominal distension.
LV 14 For vomiting, rib pain, depression, hopelessness.
GB 1 Treats eye pain, migraines, lack of clarity.
GB 15 Treats headache, eye pain, confusion, lack of perspective. Eliminates wind.
GB 20 Treats headache, neck pain, irritability. Eliminates wind.
GB 21 Treats anxiety, irritability, hypertension, headaches, shoulder stiffness.
GB 30 For lower back and hip problems, sciatica, stiff joints, irritability, frustration.
GB 34 Master point for tendons and ligaments. Timidity, headache, hypertension.
GB 41 Relieves headache, sciatica, frustration, indecision.
BL 47 Supports psycho-emotional and spiritual aspects of Wood.
GV 16 Eliminates wind, treats headache, stiff neck, colds and flu, fever.

And finally, use the uprising energy of the Wood season to make plans for the future. See where you are going, map out your path, plan the stages of the journey, decide how to get there and take the first step. Your inner Wood will provide you with the gifts of imagination, creativity, vision, wise judgement, and motivation to help you on your path.

Go boldly!

For more suggestions on working with your Wood, see that chapter of my book
The Way of the Five Seasons.

Seeing Clearly, Stepping Nimbly

Tongziliao – Gall Bladder 1 – Pupil Crevice

Today is another windy spring day in South Australia. This time it’s a warm wind, but the forecast for tomorrow is for cool winds. Such is the changeable nature of spring. Wind is the climate of the Wood Element and when it penetrates the body’s defences, can create headaches and affect the eyes.

In previous springs we have examined other Gall Bladder points which treat wind invasion. Last year we looked at Gall Bladder 15 while the previous spring it was Gall Bladder 41.

Tongziliao – Gall Bladder 1 – Pupil Crevice, is named for its location at the outer side of the eye, in a hollow on the orbital bone. It is useful for eliminating wind, a condition to which the Liver is prone and averse. The point treats redness and itching of the eyes, eye pain and tearing, visual obstruction or dimness. It also treats headaches and migraines, especially around the temples. When there is a deviation of the mouth or facial paralysis such as occurs in Bell’s palsy, the point is called for.

At this point there is a close connection between the two Officials of Wood.  The Liver Official’s job is to use far-sightedness and good judgement in making the  plans needed to navigate the world. The Gall Bladder Official is responsible for decision making and for strategising the best way implement those plans. Tongziliao is an appropriate point to use to support both of these functions.

Gall Bladder 1 is a meeting point with the Bladder and Triple Heater meridians. In other words it is like a railway hub through which three lines pass. Using this point will have wide ranging influences by having an effect on all three of these yang meridians of the head.

Another of its important functions is as an entry point. Qi moves through the cycle of all 12 primary meridians, moving out of one meridian at its exit point, and into the following meridian at its entry point. In this case, Qi moves from Triple Heater 22 to Gall Bladder 1. It is common for Qi to become blocked at these points of exit and entry which are referred to as Entry-Exit blocks. In fact, such blocks can be impediments to treatment progressing and so the Five Element practitioner must always be alert to their possibility.

Tongziliao can be used to promote clarity of vision at all levels of the body, mind and spirit. Gall Bladder timidity is a psycho-emotional condition which describes a lack of courage to make decisions and move to decisive action. This point supports such a person to see clearly what needs to be done and to act accordingly.

Gall Bladder 1 is the start of that meridian’s long zig-zag journey around the head and down the sides of the body. It’s pathway embodies the qualities of the yang Wood Official as he moves back and forth, stepping nimbly and flexibly around obstacles in the way of achieving his goals. To support your own clarity of vision and flexibility of purpose, try holding GB 1 this spring.

Location of Gall Bladder 1

 

In a slight hollow at the side of the orbital bone of the eye, approximately 0.5 cun posterior to the outer canthus (corner of the eye).

Rising Above Life’s Tears

Toulinqi – Head Above Tears – Gall Bladder 15

above-tearsSoon this long, cold, wet spring will transition to summer. Time for one last Wood point before we move on to the Fire Element.

Toulinqi is a point that is regarded quite differently in the Five Element tradition when compared to the TCM tradition. TCM practitioners regard this as a minor point and little used. When it is utilised, it is for headache, nasal congestion, eye pain, tearing or lack of tearing. It helps to dispel wind that has invaded the body.

In the Five Element tradition it is more often used to address mental and emotional conditions. Recently I used this point on a client who was feeling confused and lacked mental clarity. As I held the two points, which lie just inside the hairline above the eyes, I had the sense that the client’s eyes were rising up her forehead to meet my fingers. This strange notion was validated when I read that Toulinqi  helps a person to get a better sense of perspective, to see further and more widely in the context of her life. If your eyes were to rise up into your hairline, you’d certainly be able to see further!

Head Above Tears is one translation of Toulinqi. Others include Head Overlooking Tears, Head Governor of Tears, Head Before Crying, and Treating Tears. While eyes watering from the wind is certainly one use of the point, it can also be used where a person has difficulty crying, or where frustration has become so extreme as to burst into tears. Readers may remember that last spring we looked at a point in the foot named Foot Above Tears. This can be used to drain excess Qi from the Gall Bladder meridian and to relieve frustration and headache. Head Above Tears is its natural partner and the two can be treated at the same time.

The Gall Bladder Official’s job is to make decisions and to take action in the world. Where there is strong moving back and forth between highs and lows, action and inaction, elation and despair, this point is called for. It helps a person who is tense and uptight, inflexible and only able to see a single course of action.

Dizziness and visual disturbance can sometimes be the result of a difference between our inner and outer reality. When there is a disconnect between inner vision and outer vision. Toulinqi helps to reconcile these differences.

Gall Bladder 15 can give us a wider perspective on life, allowing us to make better sense of its patterns, to rise above the tangled thickets of our inner confusion and to see the bigger picture of our place in the cosmos.

Location of Gall Bladder 15

gb-15

 

Directly above the pupil when the eye is looking forward, and 0.5 cun inside the hairline.