Dear Emergent Shoots of Spring,
It is the winged ones that teach about spring in these Northern lands. Male red-winged black birds return early to vie for nesting territory, risking unpredictable temperatures and limited food sources for a chance to show off their flashy crimson shoulders. And it strikes me that there is always a risk here, in the gamble of spring.
Feeling into your animal body, where is spring living in you? How is it beginning to emerge? What does the more-than-human world around you, the wind, the flowers, the full and frenetic waterways, have to tell you about this emergence?
Once again, I turn to the five element system which acts as a modern way for us to understand the teachings of the ancient world. Old, primordial powers rest at the foundation of everything in the universe and by intentionally connecting with these elemental forces, we weave ourselves back into the fabric of the living world.
So on the cusp of the equinox, when day and night, light and dark equalize, the grasp of winter finally loosens and gives way to spring, the wood element, and liver energy. Wood is the energy of birth, sprouting, healthy initiation, creativity, fierce exuberance and a desire to take one’s place in the dance of life. The spirit question of Wood asks: how are we growing through our lives and onto our soul’s path?
We strengthen our Liver energy when we are able to transform force into flow. When we become too controlling and inflexible in life, healthy liver energy reminds us to step back, take a breath, and get a wider perspective. It invites us into clear sight, taking the time to plan and vision before we act and to be willing to flow around obstacles instead of exhausting our resources in a direct assault against them.
We strengthen our Liver energy when we hold a growth mindset. Let us embrace mistake-making, even fall-on-your-face failure, as a necessary and normal part of all learning. We need to stop expecting everything to go so easily. We might make a study of trees, the way they clearly see the plan of their lives, acting on it with decisiveness, growing around a rock, through a fence, or around other obstacles in their way. Because obstacles will arise. Challenge accompanies the growth that is a part of all life.
We strengthen our Liver energy when we allow ourselves to feel angry and let it move through us organically. Instead of keeping it deep inside us, we punch pillows, we sing with the radio blasting in the car, we frustratedly weep, allowing our tears to fall to the earth. We release, allowing our feelings to run through us. We do not honor old stories about anger being bad, we do not freeze, we do not fester, we do not repress.
We strengthen our Liver energy when we have regular experiences of flow activities, where we are neither bored, nor anxious, just immersed completely in the moment. In this place we are allowed to creatively express ourselves without self-doubt, riding waves of enjoyment, motivation, and concentration.
We strengthen our Liver energy when we move our bodies regularly, when our qi is able to circulate, when our hearts squeeze, when our fluids swirl, when breath and blood spread through all of our nooks and crannies of our flesh. Breathing in deeply, we open our rib cages, release our tight diaphragms and allow ourselves to feel inspired, to have hope. There is possibility even on our darkest days.
What wants to be born or renewed in your life right now? How are you willing to assert yourself to make it a reality? Growth rarely happens in some perfectly linear way. Spring comes with unpredictable sun, hail, or frost, and we keep growing anyway. Life will not be suppressed.
I would also recommend these two practices as active ways to move qi, release emotion, and work with your Liver energy:
Happy Equinox and joyful emergence of spring to you!
(March 2021 Newsletter)