The Spring Equinox marks an important change in the body’s qi flow. On the autumn equinox the energy primarily comes from the kidneys, rising up the back of the body and down the front. This creates a feeling similar to wrapping oneself in a warm blanket, which is perfect for the colder, winter months.
On the Spring Equinox the liver comes into its power and energy then primarily moves from the liver up the front of the body and down the back. This has a much more opening and expansive feel a bit like opening your arms to embrace a warm, sunny morning.
This is the time of the Wood element, which can be thought of as energy moving out in all directions (think of a tree growing deep roots and abundant branches). The Wood element corresponds to the Liver and Gall Bladder. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Liver is known as ‘The Planner’ and the Gall Bladder as ‘The Decision Maker.’ The Liver collects and directs the free flow of energy and the circulation of the blood. The Liver is also in charge of directing all the body’s resources to precisely where they are most needed. Quite literally it plans where everything needs to be.
The Liver is the most expressive organ in the body with many hundreds of different functions. It is strongly tied up to our destiny - the way in which we express our lives. As the planner, the Liver directs all major changes and transitions in the body such as occur at puberty and, in women, during pregnancy and the menopause.
It also directs every minor shift in the body enabling us to transition smoothly from the darkness of winter into the increasing light and warmth of spring. The Liver stores blood and directs it to wherever is needed and especially to nourish the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and eyes. In TCM muscles spasms, dizziness, eye problems and fatigue are all signs of poor regulation of blood flow due to liver imbalance.
The Gallbladder stores and secretes bile and the purity of the bile allows for clear judgement, vision and decision making. If the bile is not pure, our judgement becomes clouded, and we tend to make poor decisions or lack the drive to enact good decisions. Green vegetables provide vital resources in bile production and especially cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, sprouts, cauliflower); so there is no better time to be eating your greens!
The emotion connected to the Wood element is anger; the most expressive of all the emotions and one that tends to arise when life or those around us lead us to feeling closed down or suppressed. Intolerance, impatience and volatile outbursts are all Liver related and arise when we are unable to express our lives in a way which feels good to us. The solution is to get creative whether it’s making new plans, clearing out the old to make way for the new or simply having good dance!
One of the best ways we can help ensure free flow of energy and guard against stagnation on any level is to practice qigong. At this time of year, it is especially powerful to practice qigong at sunrise. My acupuncture teacher would recommend this practice for 10 days in a row as a great aid to depression. He believed that it is difficult to feel down when we witness the miracle of a new day for 10 days in a row and I have found this to be true in my own practice. Why not try it for yourself? If not for 10 days, then at least once. You might be surprised in just how different it makes you feel.