Table of contents
Wood Patterns and Lessons
Anger, resentment, timid, over-assertive, perfectionist, judgmental, being right, self esteem, disappointed, courage.
Life does not flow easily for wood types. It may feel like a continuous battle, with nothing coming easily. Alternatively they may decide it is too hard to change and lack the courage to have what they want and as a result feel stuck.
A wood type person becomes either timid and a victim of ‘fate’ or over-assertive in trying to obtain what they want. Anger and resentment results from both patterns. The timid person resents not being able to do what they want most in life. The assertive person resents any impediment to them doing what they want.
Wood relates to how we view ourselves. Do we focus on our actions and created self or are we able to strip away our personality and actions to observe what is underneath. When we focus on our actions we judge them.
Wood types are often judgmental of others and themselves. They see right and wrong everywhere, and try to live up to their own high standards. This constrains their expression.
They try to be perfect. Unable to always be perfect they inevitably disappoint themselves and this affects their self-esteem.
These high standards are applied to others, who continually disappoint them. This can lead to the feeling that if I do not do it myself it will not get done properly.
Motivation—Wood (Wind and Thunder)
Wood is very easy to spot because of the way they Express Themselves in CAPITALS. Also they have that tense jaw line and give themselves a hard time.
The key for wood is to change the conception of self away from doing to what is inside. To do this it is important to be able to have them get into the experience of when they have bonded with an animal or small child. Explore that with them – why do they love the animal? Is it useful? What happens when it does something wrong? Do they still accept it?
Once they are in the experience of unconditionally accepting the animal then ask them how would it be if they could feel the same way about themselves.
Then the change can be seen as finding/seeing the dog within. In essence the whole pattern is about what we see – whether we see only the doing or go beyond that to what is inside of ourselves.
Working with 3’s can be hard because they can become very stuck. There is always the potential for major change to keep you hopeful but often they just sit in their same pattern.
The need for improvement is about being good enough.
Freedom is the flipside of being stuck. Freedom comes when I can be me when I am around other people. What cages me is my own expectations of myself.
Criticism/ rejection and acceptance are all about performance. They always struggle with ‘what is’ instead of recognizing what is and making the most of what is.
The key for wood types is to look beyond what is done, by yourself and others, to what lies inside the heart of yourself and others.
If we move beyond judgement we can allow ourselves to just be, and allow others to just be. The objective is to allow our soul to flow without constraint and this comes from fully accepting our soul.
True self esteem comes from viewing what is inside, not from doing something well. We are who we are, not what we do. When this is seen, we become more benevolent, moving beyond judging people by what they do and instead seeing what lies inside.
For example, when we look at a baby we do not judge it harshly because it does not do anything useful. We love it because it is an expression of its own inner-nature and this inner nature is inherently beautiful and lovable. This same nature is in all of us and we only need to view that nature to love ourselves.
Possible Wood Goals
I am accepted regardless of what I do.
I am acceptable regardless of what I do. I accept myself regardless of what I do. I enact the plans of my heart.
I know what is right for me. I do what is right for me.
From 365 Tao pg 182
If the boulders are moved, Even a river will change its flow.
Once fixed objects in our lives shift, our circumstances change. If we arrange our furniture properly life will be comfortable. If we eat correctly life will be prolonged. The flow of life can be affected and to some extent consciously manipulated simply by altering its parameters.
Life is the flow of energy. It is the air that we breathe, the force that moves the weather, the force of all minds combined. It keeps the rivers flowing, our hearts beating, and the sky blue. This flow of energy moves constantly according to the fixed points that exist at any given moment. Therefore, by manipulating the cardinal points of our lives, we can change the flow. The freedom to choose and to change belongs to us.
Drought burns basins to dust, Light rain is a dew of mockery. Receive without complaint; Work with fate.
When the countryside is gripped in drought it is useless to complain. Even when light rains fail to moisten the parched landscape we should accept what happens.
Acceptance does not mean fatalism. Acceptance is a dynamic act. It should not signal inertness, stagnation, or inactivity. One should simply ascertain what the situation requires and then implement what one thinks is best.
Adapted from: Ming Dao, 365 Tao No 113
People who have strong energy of the Wood element have a clear vision and goals, and know how to bring them into being. They excel at planning and decision making. They can be forceful in disagreements and can strongly argue their opinions. Their piercing, penetrating eyes may attract you, but avoid their wrath.
When the wood Qi is weak, people can be indecisive, without strong direction in life, and stuck. They may be constrained emotionally, unable to express anger. When the Liver Qi is congested or stagnant, people can be arrogant, over controlling, and have angry dispositions. They may have a tendency to be workaholics or have addictive personalities, including the possibility of abusing drugs and alcohol. They may have digestive problems like bloating, gas, alternating constipation and diarrhea.
When Liver Qi is imbalanced, hot and spicy foods may cause too much heat. Sour and bitter flavors are said to benefit the Liver meridian. Excessive frustration and irritation can be especially difficult when the Liver meridian is out of balance. Physical exercise and reading can help restore balance. The fall is a vulnerable time, as well as the winds of March, and extremely hot weather.
Common signs of Liver meridian stress include dry, brittle, thickened nails and pain just below the ribs. Common illnesses include migraines, eye problems, and sinus problems. The Liver meridian circles the genitals, and rashes and discharges are associated with its imbalance, as well as hernias. For women, menstrual problems are common including PMS, painful periods, and heavy bleeding. Uterine fibroids may be related to imbalance of the Liver meridian as well. The Liver and Gallbladder meridian pathways traverse the top and sides of the head, the most common sites for migraine headaches.
The Qi of the Wood element flourishes in the spring when plants are sprouting new growth; and the color of this element is green.
Wood — Spring – the Liver – the Ethereal Soul
The Wood element relates to the smooth flow of Qi energy as it expands and rises, and is like the shoot of a plant. It embodies activity, growth and change. In this phase, the life force latent in the water element is aroused and given direction; the Will (Zhi) of the Kidneys is channelled by a sense of purpose.
The Wood element in nature is apparent not only in the coming to life of spring but also in the entire process of evolution. Overseeing the body’s cycles and rhythms, it governs both our need to develop and ability to adapt. At a basic level, the Wood element is therefore concerned with movement, with motivation, growth and with the harmonious flow of life.
The principal organ of the Wood element is the Liver. “The Liver has the functions of a military leader who excels in his strategic planning. It is the dwelling place of the soul, or spiritual part of man. The Liver influences the nails and is effective upon the sinews; it brings forth animal desires and vigour. The taste connected with the Liver is sour and the colour, green. Within yang the Liver acts as the lesser yang, which permeates the air in spring” (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine).
The Liver is responsible for ensuring the smooth flow of Qi energy throughout the body/mind. While the Lungs circulate Qi through the meridians, it is the job of the Liver to ensure that Qi moves freely and is spread evenly.
The Liver, in addition, has an important influence on the blood. It stores the blood in times of rest, releases it when we become active and maintains, as with the Qi, its smooth and equable flow. If the Liver falters in its action of “spreading” the Qi, the flow of Qi energy will become impeded and irregular and produce a condition known as Qi-stagnation. When the Qi stagnates, problems that involve spasm, distension, constriction and pain are likely to arise. These include dyspepsia, constipation, headache and painful menstruation. If the blood as well as the Qi has stagnated, the stasis is deeper and so the pain is more severe.
Stagnation of Qi and blood is also related to feeling stuck and frustrated. Tense, moody and irritable conditions disrupt Liver function and constrict the flow of Qi. On the other hand, conditions of stagnant Qi can produce a state of nervous tension.
Just as the Kidneys house the Will (Zhi), the Liver provides the residence of the Ethereal Soul (Hun), the subtle, expansive aspect of the psyche that links the individual mind with the Universal Mind. The source of our daydreams and visions, we derive from the Ethereal Soul a sense of direction in life. Not only is it associated with our inspirational dreams and visions but with vivid dreams and eyesight.
The Ethereal Soul (Hun) provides the mind with “movement” and with adaptability, allowing it both the capacity for introspection and the power to project outward. As the foundation of the Ethereal
Soul, the Liver is called the “resolute organ,” a storehouse of courage and decisiveness. It is the planner, organiser and adventurer within us all.
In disharmony, the Wood element can result in either rigidity or excessive flexibility. The Liver’s normal capacity for assertiveness, and for clearly expressed, well-controlled anger, can become suppressed in states of Qi-stagnation, and explosive when there is excess yang and heat. Stagnant Qi is also associated with the type of depression that comes of unexpressed anger and resentment. These feelings when suppressed and allowed to turn inward invariably afflict the Ethereal Soul, affecting its natural state of hope.
The highest expression of the wood element is Benevolence. Benevolence comes from looking beyond our actions and the actions of others to what lies inside others and ourselves. When we see ourselves for who we are we will naturally allow our soul to flow without constraint. This is true freedom. It is the freedom to just be ourselves.
The sprout or young shoot is symbolic of the Wood element being an expression of the flow of life force emerging from its latency.