IN BALANCE — The Gift Of Spring

May 2, 2018

By Susan Johnston

Have you ever looked at a tree? I mean really looked. Spent an afternoon lying on the grass and feeling its roots beneath you, as you stared up at its magnificent branches? Pondering the tree with all its flaws and immense strength, the last bits of frost on its branches that did not stop it from sending forth tiny buds as it prepares to start anew. The quiet contemplation on how deep its roots must go in order to remain standing. The strength of the roots to have the ability to pull forth nourishment from the earth to the very top of the tree. The tree’s incredible ability to gently sway with the wind but not break. To look proud as rain, snow, animals, and humans fall upon it and use it for their own pleasure. We have so much to learn from trees, a part of nature that surrounds us every day.

This is the image I want you to see. This is the image you must feel in your bones. According to Chinese medical theory, spring is about growth and renewal. It is the time of the wood element, represented by the tree. You are that tree. Winter allowed you time to go dormant and gather your energy. The cold weather forced you to slow down and rest so that now, as the days grow longer and temperatures rise, you are able to burst forth. A new you. A changed you. Ready to tackle the challenges life brings from a new perspective.

Spring gives us the energy to start over. Things are moving again. Spring embodies the energy of new beginnings. The time of contemplation is over. It is time to act, to move forward, to go up and out just like the branches of the tree. Spring and wood challenge us to stay rooted deep in the ground, while we rise up to new heights and gain new perspective. To grow and bloom and become something even more beautiful. It is a time to give yourself permission to take risks in order to move closer to who you imagine yourself to be.

The wood element, represented by the liver organ system in Chinese medical theory, thrives on movement. If it is denied and repressed, its energy will become stagnant. This stagnation will cause anger, frustration, and even physical pain. If you find yourself feeling this way in the spring, possibly lashing out or being negative, there are ways to move this stagnant liver energy. Get outside and take a walk, sing really loudly in your car, try something new, or spend some time in your garden. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are also very helpful. They gently redirect and open energy flow in order to help you push past whatever is blocking you from embracing this time of growth and renewal. When the liver energy is allowed to soften and flow more easily, your perspective changes and you see challenges in life not as obstacles but as lessons for growth as you navigate gently through or around them. 

Remember this spring to be kind to yourself and allow for space to grow. Seeds shouldn’t be planted too closely together. They need room to absorb sunlight and nutrients. They need water, time, and care, in order to burst forth from the soil and eventually bear fruit. Transformation never happens overnight. Be patient but persistent this spring and you will bloom into something more exquisite than you could have ever imagined.

Susan Johnston, L.Ac., works as an acupuncturist at Milwaukee Community Acupuncture, a local clinic dedicated to providing affordable and accessible acupuncture to those in the community and beyond. For more information about Milwaukee Community Acupuncture please visit

Disclaimer: The information provided in this column is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or care.

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