I mentioned in my earlier post “An Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine” that I have created a Reiki healing system based on working with the “Five Elements” of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In a series of articles I’m going to be talking about different aspects of the Five Elements and how they impinge on people’s lives: how imbalances in the five elements can show themselves as physical conditions and particular emotions and states of mind.
I have written about how the elements support and control each other through the nourishment and control cycles, I’ve spoken about the meridians and body organs that relate to each element, and outlined the main emotions that derive from Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
Today we are going to focus in more detail on the emotion of Wood…
The emotion of Wood is anger and aggression, together with the associated feelings of irritability, hatred, fury and rage, resentment and frustration. Anger and aggression are a sign of an obstacle in our path, preventing us from growing, and we become frustrated if we cannot find the space for expression. Anger and aggression are seen as positive emotions that allow us to overcome impediments to our growth, but irritability, hatred, rage and fury are seen as signs of a Wood imbalance, and are not healthy emotions.
Rage, for example, can be seen as anger that has lost its purpose and gone out of control. We speak of ‘blind rage’. A person might be continually angry with themselves or on edge with others, irritable and always wanting to pick a fight with someone. They might feel ‘stuck’, paralysed because they are unable to escape their fury. Annoyance and irritability can also be seen as energies that have yet to be focused.
If a person keeps their rage inside, it can seethe under a cold and polite surface; underneath there may be a feeling of great frustration or inner conflict, and if the rage ever broke free there might be dangerous consequences. Such suppressed aggression also goes hand in hand with suppressed and inhibited sexuality, so healthy sexual behaviour is seen as related to healthy aggressive behaviour.
Emotional imbalances in Wood can be expressed in different ways. For example, chronic irritability and unreasonable temper tantrums can be indicative of an excess of chi in the Gall Bladder. This can cause headaches in the crown and at the temples, and if this state of rage continues not to be expressed or cleared out then high blood pressure or Gallstones might result.
A person may exhibit suppressed rage: sarcasm, cynicism, bitterness and a general inability to become angry. This can be associated with apathy, sluggishness, resignation and depression, which in themselves are what we might see in a person who has given up making plans and manifesting goals (some of the other characteristics of the Liver and the Gall Bladder – see later). Such an outlook may have arisen because a person has been confronted continually with obstacles to their self-realisation. Continued failure can lead people to give up, perhaps leading to alcoholism or drug addiction, which are in themselves injurious to the Liver.
The last two paragraphs represent an excess of Yang energy in Wood, and a deficiency of Yang energy in Wood respectively. A lack of Yang energy might be caused by too much Yin energy in the Liver (the Yin organ) or a lack of Yang energy in the Gall Bladder (the Yang organ). This is where it all gets rather complicated and, when practising Five Element Reiki, fortunately, we do not need to go deeper into the Yin and Yang characteristics of the elements, the organs and their emotions!
If over the years a person cannot express and clear their hatred and rage, and turn these emotions into a positive striving towards goals, then the aggression can turn itself against the person’s own body, leading to gout, arthritis, rheumatism, and other auto-immune or auto-aggressive disorders. Interestingly, these diseases are more often found in women, and in patriarchal cultures women have less opportunity than men do to express themselves, especially when it comes to carrying through with an idea or venting their anger.
The healthy situation is where anger and aggression can be expressed and then will turn naturally into joy and love, the emotions associated with Fire, the element which follows Wood in the endless cycle of the elements.
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Photo credit: Alex