Let’s apply the Five Element Framework specifically to the current season, Spring, and its associated element and organ, Wood / Liver. What are the physical and emotional health aspects of Liver? And how can you support your Liver and overall health, especially now that Spring Has Sprung?
According to Classical Chinese Medicine, the Liver is the organ responsible for the smooth flow of emotions as well as the smooth flow of Qi and blood in your body. It controls the volume and smooth flow of blood in your vessels and stores the blood. It’s the organ that is most affected by excess stress or emotions. The Liver’s partner organ is the Gallbladder.
The eyes are the sensory organ related to the Liver. If you have any eye issues, including blurry vision, red or dry eyes, itchy eyes, it may be a sign deep down that your Liver is not functioning smoothly. Also, we often consider the brightness in someone’s eyes as an indicator of their overall health and vitality.
The tendons are the tissue associated with the Liver. In Chinese martial arts, they say that strength comes from the tendons, not the muscles. We also focus on tendon and ligament strength and suppleness in our qigong practice.
Anger is the emotion associated with the Liver. If you are often irritable, get angry easily, have trouble unwinding from the day’s activities, have trouble reasoning or going with the flow and letting things go, you are experiencing a Liver function problem. Experiencing these emotions chronically or excessively, such as ongoing frustration, can seriously unbalance the function of your Liver.
Positive attributes associated with the Liver are drive and determination. Think about the “drive”, the “will to life” we see every spring as the tiniest shoots of plants or grass or trees push up through the soil, or even through rocks or cracks in the concrete. In human terms, this corresponds to the person who has will power to overcome challenges and even create new things.
Spring is the season associated with the Liver and Gallbladder. It’s the season of growth and renewed energy, so it’s a wonderful time to work on your Liver. Just don’t get too caught up in the spring’s intense energies. Taking walks in the park or the woods is a fantastic way to rejuvenate. As I said above, the Liver is the organ most affected by excess stress or emotions. So let go of the stress and any anger (see my Buddha T-shirt for one of my favorite phrases…). Also, purging exercises, such as the Five Elements Dao Yin Exercise you can learn here, are a fantastic way to detox your liver.
One thing to also be careful about is to watch the alcohol. If you drink, drink in moderation because alcohol has a direct impact on your liver. Being a beer and wine drinker myself, I hate to have to pass that along, but… a drink or two here or there is not a problem. But if you feel like your Liver may need some TLC, lay off for several weeks and see how you feel.
In my next post, I’ll explore more of the psychological, emotional, and spiritual aspects associated with Liver and Gallbladder.