Against The Wind
Yup. I meant to reference that Willie Nelson song A) because I love him and B) because this was the song that used to run through my head on repeat when I was a New Mexico resident and went on long bike rides - bike rides that were often against the wind, especially in the spring time, in all of the wide open places there. It’s spring here in Philly now - with all of its' fresh green leaves, flowers, warmer weather, and, yes, wind. On a recent morning when I was out on a run, the wind seemed to blow against me regardless of my change in running direction. This brought back my memories of biking against the wind in New Mexico - of the sand that would whip up in springtime and sting my face, of being tripped by my own foot while crossing Route 66 once as my leg was blown against me, mid-step. Are you catching a vibe here? I really just don’t think I enjoy wind. It makes me feel dizzy. Irritable. Frustrated.
As I was noticing my reactions on my run here in Philly, I had this flash of people I’ve seen reveling in the wind. These people literally would throw their arms open as if they were Kate Winslet on the bow of the Titanic. I know people who really love the wind.
So - my Chinese Medicine mind starts going. You see, in Chinese medicine different seasons correspond to one of 5 “elements” (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water). Spring happens to pertain to the Wood Element. Each element has an associated direction, taste, smell, yin and yang organ, and qualities that you find in nature as well as within yourself. There are positive qualities that manifest when that element is strong within us, as well as not-so-positive qualities that manifest when each particular element needs a little TLC. GUESS WHICH CATEGORY I FALL INTO?!
So let’s take a look at our Wood Element:
Represented by the color green: Think supple new growth on trees. Resilience. Energy bursting out of new seedlings.
Shows in the eyes: How is our vision? Externally, we see clearly - our eyes are moist and shiny. Internally, we see ourselves clearly. We see our path, and we know who we are and what we want. About a year ago I was given the homework of creating a vision board to remind myself of what I wanted to manifest within my life. My reaction? I was petrified. After two kids, running a house and business, and taking care of others, I had no idea what I had ever wanted for myself! ... How is your vision? Do you see yourself clearly? Do you know what your goals are? Or do you feel like you “can’t see the forest for the trees”? Do you focus on obstacles rather than creative solutions?
Planning: Now that you know what you want, do you know how to sow your seed? A good farmer knows where to plant different seeds, how much sun, water, and what type of soil each needs. Do you know what you want, but have trouble planning out a path of getting there? Yeah - me too. So - get help! One thing the wood element despises is being stuck, bottled up… Just like the spring brings us outdoors more in the warm weather, it also calls us to come out of ourselves. In light of this, look for help, share your ideas with others, and be open and receptive to input that can help you grow and move forward!
Sour taste: I used to find myself craving grapefruit juice in the springtime. Lately, my craving has been for yogurt. What we crave can indicate a challenge within a particular element!
Anger, Frustration, and Resentment are hallmarks of imbalance in the wood element. Are you feeling less than patient, suffering from worsening PMS, feeling jealous of others, and frustrated with yourself (green with envy)? This often brings us back to feelings of lack of vision for ourselves, inability to manifest our visions, and feeling stuck. So - focus on seeing new solutions, being open to change / new possibilities, and trying out new things. Physical exercise is a great way to get things moving energetically in the spring, to shake off the heaviness that tends to accumulate both physically and mentally in winter… It can vent anger and frustration, and get our juices flowing again.
Liver and Gallbladder are the organs and meridians associated with the wood element. These meridians follow the side of the head and body, connect to the eyes, and pass around and through the genitals and reproductive organs. Some issues I commonly treat in the spring (aside from allergies) that are related to these meridians are sciatica, insomnia (waking at 3 am?), migraine headaches, anxiety and depression, dizziness and inner ear problems. Some digestive problems that are associated with symptoms (such as rapid or erratic changes in the bowels, or increased acid reflux) are related to problems with the liver’s task of regulating the movement of qi in the abdomen. Dizziness, high blood pressure, or muscle spasm / stiffness are related to patterns of internal “wind” related to the Liver organ. Frequent sighing or the inability to take a deep breath are signs that the liver channel is stagnating since it passes through the diaphragm. Belly breathing can be a great exercise to practice this season - relaxing the diaphragm, allowing fresh air to expand the area below the umbilicus / between the spine and belly, like a ball inflating on an inhale and deflating on an exhale. (Don’t force it as that can cause more frustration and stagnation!) Increased cramping or other menstrual discomforts can also signify that the liver
needs some balancing. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, acupuncture treatment on points on both the liver and gallbladder channels can help open up the flow of qi and alleviate symptoms.
So remember this spring:
Get clear on your visions
Set realistic goals and plan your steps to achieving them. (Get help if you need it!)
Embrace new ideas and be open to change. Be resilient if things don’t go the way you’ve planned.
Incorporate spring foods like greens in your diet and lighten it up. Doing a mild cleanse or fast in the spring can help clear heaviness.
Get moving, get outside, and socialize! Breathe!
And don’t forget to be patient with yourself! This is a time of growth and change, but it’s always a process!
Fly Like the Wind!