Yippee!!!! Spring has finally sprung full force here in Asheville. For a minute (when it was 85 degrees!) I thought we were going to bypass spring and go directly into summer. What a crazy transition – just two weeks ago it was snowing, yet now I am sitting outside in the sun as I type this. Thank you spring, I missed you!
Spring is the season that most fills me with awe and wonder. After the quiet and stark landscape of winter, beautiful colors start to appear one-by-one. First it was the daffodils, which started to peek out of hiding in January. (We did have a warm winter up until February or March.) Then some purples started showing their true colors in February. And this week has brought us buds on trees and a seeming explosion of pinks and reds and even more purples and yellows. It fills me with awe because I can walk the same route every day and see such huge differences in a mere 24-hour period. It’s almost like each year I forget just how amazing this time of year is – which I am thankful for, because this way I get to be astounded over and over again. Daily dog walks change from something I have to do (in winter) into a great opportunity to marvel at nature (spring). Yes please!
So let’s talk about this upsurge of energy that is Spring and the Wood Element in Chinese Medicine. This is also the same energy as Aries of the Zodiac. Think about the energy it takes for a tiny sprout to crack its seed casing. Think about the blade of grass that, against all odds, has cracked the pavement. The Wood Element is all about this upsurge of energy after the dormancy of winter. (Keep in mind that without the “dormancy” of winter, nothing would have the energy required for this radical upward shift. The quiet resting of winter leads to the upsurge.)
This is the time of new beginnings. The seeds that we have sown all winter are ready to burst forth. Winter is a time of rest and introspection, and spring is the time to act. We see how people shift on the first few nice days of the year. People are out and smiling, talking to the neighbors they have not seen all winter. You probably feel increased energy and vigor, that you are wanting to do more. You feel enlivened after a period of deep, wintry rest (assuming you allowed yourself to do what the rest of nature does in winter – rest, relax, and replenish).
All of this energy is fantastic and appropriate for the season, but it can also get out of control. When you think of Aries, you probably think of a battering ram, someone who is so focused on her own will that she just keeps going and going, even when she should be acquiescing. But this is only Aries (or the Wood Element) in its dysfunction. Think of the nature of Wood. Go outside and look at a tree. Right now. Is it static? No, it is moving with the wind. And the more wind that comes its way, the more it must bend in order not to break. This flexibility is essential for the proper function of the Wood Element.
A Wood imbalance can also go the other way – it can show up as the person who really has a hard time standing up for himself or making decisions. This is when someone has too much flexibility and not enough of a solid wood trunk.
So right now is the perfect time to ask yourself, “Where in my life can I have more flexibility? Where am I too rigid and unable to bend even when I need to?” You might also ask, “Where in my life am I not asserting myself when I should? How can I assert myself in a healthy, balanced way?” And the perfect way to reflect on these questions is to get outside and enjoy – you guessed it – a spring-time walk!