Bursting Into Spring

Posted April 17, 2014 by Courtney Shelburne

Nature boldly expresses her creative plan and vision in the spring as zealous plants erupt at the earth’s surface bringing forth their abundant and beautiful blooming bouquets.  Like the dandelion whose growing edge can burst through concrete, we too emerge into spring, after our winter rest, ‘raring to go’, with clear vision and a sense of purpose.   The element wood in the Chinese Five Element Theory is the energy of spring that provides us with the sense of renewal and reawakening.  Wood, which embodies the energies of our liver and gall bladders, enables us to move forward with confidence, vision, determination, and strike out in new directions!

It is important to take special care of our livers and gall bladders in the spring.  When healthy, these organs enable us to move toward what we have set our hearts on.  When unhealthy, they can make us short tempered, angry, and indecisive.  

The season beckons us to make ourselves more vibrant, efficient and take action.  Physically, the liver and gall bladder aid the digestion of fats and oils, acting as a filter and processing and breaking down for excretion everything that enters our body.   Mentally and spiritually they are the decision makers that allow us to make split-second decisions and give us the courage to take action.

Anger, the emotion of wood, is a healthy feeling that gets a bad rap in our society.  Yet anger is appropriate, necessary, and helpful when setting boundaries.  If someone offers you coffee, for example, you can set a boundary by clearly saying “no thank you, I don’t drink coffee”.  Many of us don’t want to offend someone by confronting them in this way, and might just politely accept the coffee.   What happens when we ignore our need to express anger over time?  It builds up.  Someone steps on our foot and instead of exercising an appropriate boundary by saying “please step off my foot”, we might actually shove them and say “back off!”  Or maybe we are on the freeway and someone cuts us off.  We might drive recklessly and cause an accident or give them an obscene gesture.  To help keep our wood in balance, it is important to express our anger appropriately when we feel our boundaries are being "stepped on".  It may feel like there is all this anger that is bubbling up and it may come out inappropriately at first.  But after practicing expressing our anger appropriately for a while, it levels out and peace is found within.     

Another scenario that brings up anger is when our vision is stifled.  We’ve made our intention, see our clear direction, created our strategy, decided to act, but our plans are thwarted.  This can be very frustrating!  The best thing to do is to allow ourselves to feel anger.  When we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, no matter which emotion, it gets a chance to be expressed.  Only then may it become ready to subside.

The opposite of this scenario is when our vision gets too much power and takes over.  We are so fastidious in our scheme or sketch that nothing ever gets started because it’s never quite right.  We get so caught up in it coming out perfect that we can’t see the forest for the trees.  This is when we might be lacking some wood energy and could really benefit from some clear vision and direction.  The best thing to do is to take a break and come back to it when you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Wood energy gives us the ability to ‘see the big picture’ and allows us to plan and design in all areas of our lives.  It gives us confidence in expressing our true nature and manifesting ourselves in the world.  Ways that we can continue to cultivate our wood energy this spring are…


1. Spend time in nature.  Experience the awakening of spring as the buds bloom and the birds sing! 

2. Express your anger.  The more we allow ourselves to express the anger that bubbles up inside us, the more balance we bring to our lives. 

3. Start something new.  Just as nature is reinventing itself, we can too.  Be creative, make things, do things, and take action.  

4. Enjoy food in season.  Explore your nearby farmers’ market to discover what foods spring has to offer. 

5. Be in bed by 11pm.  Its important for you to be asleep during your liver and gall bladder hours in order for them to rejuvinate during the night.