Acupuncture and the five-elements for anxiety: The wood element
Fire houses that purpose that comes down from the cosmos. We have potential down here in the water element and we have purpose up here in the fire element. These two things, as I just mentioned, they want to come together. They have this natural affinity for one another and they are joined and they come together and they’re brought forth into our life via the wood element. Water and fire I mentioned create this axis, this central axis and we want it to be very stable. The wood element and the metal element which will talk about next, they are the transitional phases. They are what actually help to blend water and fire, fire and water.
The wood element is related to the Liver and the Gall Bladder and It’s all about this direction movement. It’s job is to move forward. It actually moves Qi in all directions. Interestingly enough, this is what I love about this system, it’s just so fascinating how we’re able to connect these parts of our body into literally the nature of these elements. The wood element is related to the tendons and the ligaments, sort of kind of the muscles, but mostly the tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscle to bone and ligaments connect bone to bone. If you think about tendons and ligaments, what do they allow us to do? In this picture you’ll see I’ve highlighted a lot of tendons and ligaments. Right down here, we have the Achilles tendon, that’s going to connect the muscles of our leg to our foot and it creates stability in that ankle joint. Of course, there are other things, other ligaments going on there, but we’re just going to draw attention to the biggest ones.
Then we have our IT band, this is connecting our hip to our knee. There are ligaments all up here along the spine, so that creates movement and flow within our spine and it connects our torso. The tendons and ligaments are soft tissues and the interesting thing about them, and this is such a direct correlation to the wood element, to the liver, and to all the facets that we’ll talk about within the liver and the gallbladder, is that we need them to be strong, but not rigid, otherwise they will break, that creates weakness. We need them to be flexible, but not loose, because that creates weakness.
There is this interesting dynamic tension that is held within the wood element where we need there to be this strength and this flexibility. So, the metaphor, and we’re going to watch a really cool video in a second, of the wood element is bamboo. I don’t know what you know about bamboo, but it is an incredible plant. Speaking of this directional growth then the wood element, carries this purpose and this potential and creates a plan and it just moves forward. It wants to bring your purpose and your potential forward at any cost.
It can get really pissed off when things don’t go its way and so the emotion associated with it is anger and irritability. We can get a lot of muscular armoring because we get really frustrated and tense when things aren’t going our way. What we want to draw on from the bamboo is that yes, there is this intense directional movement. It can grow up to a meter a day, how wild is that? But if there is a wind that comes along, it has the ability to bend 90 degrees, just bends right over, and then as soon as the wind is gone, as soon as that stress, that climactic factor, that stress has passed, boop, it just pops right back up and keeps growing. It’s not thwarted by stresses, it finds creative ways around stress.
The liver from the Western perspective, it is the largest organ and it is responsible for so many things there is no the body. It has over 500 functions, and I put here, large and in charge, it really dominates and dictates so many pieces of keeping our system moving, it is very strategic, I suppose is what I’m trying to say. The liver is actually considered the General in the Chinese paradigm. What does a general do, it’s strategic in nature. It’s like, okay, we need to go here, we need to do this, and it’s sending these troops or this Qi or this energy out in all directions because it holds the vision at large for our life, for our purpose, so it’s very, very purposeful in nature. Let’s watch this video.
This one is particularly astounding in its vigor. It can grow up to a meter a day, fast overtaking the other plants around it. The taller it grows, the fasters its growth rate, so that in a matter of days it towers above the undergrowth and continues reaching for the sky. Not bad, for what is essentially a grass. It’s bamboo.
How cool is that? Seriously, it’s amazing to me. Okay, so we’ve got wood; wood is all about the growth and it’s about bringing this potential in this purpose of marrying those two things. Once that wood has grown, grown, grown, grown, grown with its purpose, then everything as we know needs to come to some sort of refinement and some sort of death, and the death is important because it allows us to move into new iterations of our lives. It’s really important that we don’t prefer the light, that we have total equanimity between with light and the dark, because the darkness is where we start to inhabit and we start to gain access to our wisdom, so it’s very, very, very, very important.