In previous posts, we’ve discussed the Five Element Framework of Classical Chinese Medicine and applied it specifically to the current season, Spring, and its associated element and organ, Wood / Liver.
Let’s get into some of the emotional and energetic manifestations of the Liver.
The Wood element energy is defined as “New Yang”, manifesting through new beginnings and expansive and sprouting growth actions. It therefore represents a period of energetic growth and expansion. Hence, its association with Spring and the growth and expansive energies we see, feel, and hear all around us as plants and flowers sprout up from the ground, trees begin to leaf up, birds and critters begin to pair up and nest, and the daylight hours grow longer.
Liver energy is a rising energy. We can feel it thrust upwards in our body when we perform our Liver DaoYin exercise. In the exercise, we guide the energy up with our hands, then guide the energy back down so we stay grounded and rooted.
From an emotional aspect, the energy of the Wood element corresponds to what the Daoists call the Hun or Soul of each person. This theory holds that the Liver encodes all our memories and emotional content and, in a sense, writes or records this onto the “CD” or “tape” of each person’s life. This then becomes the record of our life that we take with us when we transition. In a sense, this corresponds with the concept of our subconscious which takes in everything that happens to us and serves as a repository of memories and emotional content. This is one reason we focus on the Liver as part of assessing and working with individuals who may have suffered from trauma.
Here’s the good news: we are not stuck with the initial recording that has been laid down in our Hun. As we mature, move away in time from the traumatic incident, learn, and grow, we can go back, either consciously or unconsciously, and process and modify the memories and emotional content. We can go back and change the story or reframe what happened to us. We take the lesson we can learn, the motivation to do or be different or better. We welcome the perspective and even wisdom we can derive from the experiences that come with living a full life.
The Liver / Wood element is associated with compassion, patience, and kindness. These are the virtues we are born with. When our Liver is in balance, we manifest these virtues in the world. When our Liver is out of balance, we may experience anger or frustration, impatience, or rage.
Therefore, treatment of the Liver often includes purging to help eliminate the toxicity that has built up. We can do this through energetic treatments; through specific types of qigong exercises; and even through simple things like drinking lemon water.
The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of blood (and therefore Qi). When we purge and release stagnation, we not only enhance the patient’s physical health, but we also release excess anger that has built up. We can then regulate and balance the Liver’s energy, allowing benevolence, compassion, and love for others to radiate from the Liver.
As we approach Easter, it seems appropriate to do our part to send out more benevolence, love, and compassion, doesn’t it?