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Learning from Wood

Ai generated image of watercolor painting of wood loogs.
This image was AI generated for the purpose of this blog.

Winter is beginning to rouse from its sleep and greet a green spring, and the world is rising with it. As we look around we can see the first signs, above, the sound of a young bird chirping in a tree, at our feet, delicate ephemerals burst from the cool earth. With our graceful attention, winter has given us wisdom. We have sat with the deepest parts of ourselves and come away with lessons. As we move from one season into the next, we can look to the Wood element to show us how to transition with ease. As when we wake from a deep sleep, we can stretch and ease ourselves into this new consciousness.

The Wood element is associated with the Liver and Gallbladder meridians. Physically the liver and gallbladder engage in vital regulatory functions; the liver detoxifies and the gallbladder stores the bile the other organ produces and then uses it to aid in smooth digestion. 

In Eastern medicine, the Liver is a leader, directing the correct flow of blood and Ki, and in turn, allowing for the regulation of one’s emotions. It is connected to the eyes, allowing for clarity and vision both physically and spiritually. The gallbladder’s physical relationship with the liver as the storehouse for bile is mirrored in its energetic relationship; it carries out the plans the Liver directs, possessing the courage to act. Both Wood organs are associated with determination, growth, and flexibility. 

As with all elements Wood is part of a dynamic interplay of unique powers, enabling us to react to the changing tides of our lives. When there is a disharmony in the Wood element we may experience stress, frustration, or anger, losing sight of our plans or becoming inflexible. When the Liver and Gallbladder are in harmony, our lives are in balance too; we can see clearly what we want and possess the motivation and drive to move toward our goals. Spring is a season for externalizing our dreams, for enjoying the gifts we have grown during the quiet of winter, and for sharing them with the world.

How we care for ourselves during times of seasonal transition is important. Eating with the seasons is a powerful way to do this. As Wood is associated with the taste of sour, eating fermented sour foods can help support the Liver and Gallbladder, as well as eating leafy greens and other spring vegetables. Wood is also associated with the sinews. Deep, slow stretching can awaken and nourish these often constricted tissues, and in turn their associated organs.

In addition, stimulating the source points on these meridians can revitalize their energy and help to balance them. For the Liver meridian, the point is Liver 3, located on the top of the foot in the line between the big toe and the second toe, in a small hollow as you trace upward from the toes towards your ankle. Stimulating this point can help with symptoms of the head and eyes due to rising Ki, also calming anger and anxiety. Gallbladder 40, the source point on the Yang meridian, is also on the foot, located in a depression just in front of and below the outer ankle bone. Both of these points may be tender when touched. You may find with gentle and direct stimulation this tenderness unfolds into another sensation, or you may simply enjoy soaking your feet or massaging them more generally as a way to access these points and meridians and relax their associated tissues.

Learning about the Five Elements can be empowering. When we meet the natural flow of the world we have an opportunity to enjoy greater internal peace and harmony. When we are not struggling against the tides we can enjoy their ebb and flow without fear. The Wood element bursts forth with vibrant life after a season of stillness, awakening us to move and grow. Spring is a season of fruit and flowers, but not all plants grow in the same ways. A crocus explodes into sight with color and beauty and is gone quickly. It announces the season, a bright message that excites us and reminds us what is coming. Other plants take longer to bloom, such as the peony, finally revealing itself in a display of tender steadiness later in the season. There is not a single way to be in alignment; instead, many gentle teachers surround us, gracing us with their wisdom. The Wood season can accommodate all of this growth. 

Trees extend their roots deep into the earth and reach their branches towards the heavens, connecting Yin and Yang, balancing groundedness and growth. We are like trees, feet on the ground and bodies extending towards the sky, also uniting these powerful energies. The Wood element reminds us of the need to be in harmony with both these planes, to honor the Yin and Yang that each of us holds. This season may we nourish our connection with the Wood element and release the growth waiting within us.

Happy Spring!


About The Author:

Author photo of Casper Valentine, student liason, five lights center.

Casper Valentine is a Shiatsu practitioner based in Tucson, Arizona. After graduating from college with a degree in psychology, personal development led him to desire education in bodywork. He attended massage school and after trying out several forms post-graduation, he found his way to the Five Lights Center of Shiatsu and began to study Shiatsu. In Shiatsu, Casper has found a form that both grounds and inspires him. Additionally, he is trained as an acudetox specialist through NADA. He enjoys practicing Aikido and QiGong, crocheting, and making rugs.


As the Student Liaison for the Five Lights Center, he is excited to support both new and continuing students as they learn Shiatsu. If you have any questions about our courses, you are always welcome to reach out to him at

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