This is written by an acupunk commrade in Detroit, the inimitable Nora Madden of Detroit Community Acupuncture.
Last week, when my partner and I were driving home from work, we saw a small shape waddling across the road up ahead. “Is it a chicken, crossing the road?” I asked, with incredulous delight; but as we got closer and saw the shape take flight, we realized that it was in fact a pheasant! - the first one we’d seen this season. When we got to our house, we also noticed for the first time that crocuses were pushing up out of the soil in the front yard.
What does all this have to do with acupuncture? Chinese Medicine (like all traditional medicines, to my knowledge) is based in observation of the natural environment, the seasons and their “elements.” The element associated with Spring is Wood–that is to say, the energy of plant life. The emotion associated with the Wood element is anger and all of its permutations; but another way of thinking about the energy of Wood and Spring is as assertiveness. It is the energy required for the seed to sprout, and for the sprout to pierce the soil and reach towards the sun. It is the assertiveness required for the salmon to return upstream, the pluckiness that it takes for that pheasant (or chicken) to cross the road, or to push off and take flight.
Sometimes this healthy feeling of assertiveness is thwarted and turns into frustration, or “stuckness.” (The feeling of your knickers being in a knot is a definite sign of the Wood element being out of whack.) This “stuckness” can manifest emotionally (as anger, irritability, inability to make decisions, etc.) or physical (e.g. an upset stomach, tense shoulders or jaws, or even a stronger sensation of pain). Conversely, pain tends to be emotionally and physically frustrating, so even the most sunny and even-tempered among us can get cranky after awhile of being in pain. Blockage leads to more blockage, as when leaves and other flotsam pile up around the rocks in a stream.
Spring can also engender a feeling of frustration or impatience, the way that warm and sunny days get our hopes up, only to be interrupted by more cold and grayness. But I love Spring because it is *exactly* addressing these kinds of blockage and restoring a healthy, directed “flow” that acupuncture is particularly good for. Deep breathing and movement also help, especially a nice walk outside, getting a lungful of the sprout-and-mud-scented air.