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.
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.