Free and Easy Wanderer

Wood is the element of dynamic change, growth, achievements and accomplishments. It is forceful, strong and direct. This is the productive energy that allows for the dried and dormant retreat of Winter to burst and emerge into new life in the Spring. The amount of energy required for one little flower bud to poke through requires plentiful free coursing of the Wood element. If this Qi was “bound up” and disharmonious, nature couldn’t bloom and blossom.

The same is true for our internal nature. Most of modern society has adopted and prized Wood element type personalities, in the hustle-bustle and grind culture. This mindset, although it can be very expansive and generating, can lead to imbalance and stagnation when it is too rigid. If the Wood element is not allowed to be carefree, then it can cause stuck Qi, restlessness and feelings of anger.

Thus, we find a romanticism of idleness and flowing like water within Chinese Medicine, culture, martial arts, temperament, literary works and philosophy. This notion of living carefree became the highest ideal of Chinese literature. Poets and scholars have always given themselves quaint names, like “The Guest of Rivers and Lakes” (Tu Fu); “The Recluse of the Eastern Hillside” (Su Tungp’o); the “Carefree Man of a Misty Lake”; and “The Old Man of the Haze-Girdled Tower,” etc.

“Wu Wei” (non-doing or effortless living), another famous concept in Chinese temperament, reminds us to approach life and it’s various circumstances gently. To “go with the flow” and “don’t force situations”. To move with the Tao, unhindered. To slow time down, peacefully remaining within this moment. It is where we spend our entire lives.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this philosophy has carried over to one of the most famous formulas, “Xiao Yao Wan”. It translates to Free and Easy Wanderer, a very Spring appropriate formula as it directly affects the free coursing of the Liver (the organ association of Spring). This formula circulates our stagnate emotions and energy, allowing a feeling of “freeing and ease” in our mind and body to flow unimpeded.

A rather extravagant praise of this cult of idle life appears in the classic of the poet, Po Yuchien, which he called “The Hall of Idleness”:

I’m too lazy to read the Taoist classics, for Tao doesn’t
reside in the books;
Too lazy to look over the sutras, for they go no deeper
in Tao than its looks.
The Essence of Tao consists in a void, clear, and cool.
But what is this void except being the whole day like a
Too lazy am I to read poetry, for when I stop, the poetry
will be gone;
Too lay to play on the qin, for music dies on the string
where it’s born;
Too lazy to drink wine, for beyond the drunkard’s
dream there are rivers and lakes;
Too lazy to play chess, for besides the pawns there are
other stakes;
Too lazy to look at the hills and streams, for there is a
painting within my heart’s portals;
Too lazy to face the wind and the moon, for within me
is the Isle of the Immortals;
Too lazy to attend to worldly affairs, for inside me are
my hut and my possessions;
Too lazy to watch the changing of the seasons, for within
me are heavenly processions.
Pine trees may decay and rocks may rot; but I shall al-
ways remain what I am.
Is it not fitting that I call this the Hall of Idleness?

The Wood element can encourage us to have a free perspective and see life with wonder. We can be creative, open, fearless and as effortless as the wind. Do without doing, let life flow with ease and grace and learn from nature’s classroom.

TCM Spring Aphorisms

The liver governs free coursing of the Qi.
It ensures the free flow of Qì around body.
The Liver governs upbearing and effusion.
The Liver is averse to wind.
The Liver governs the Sinews.
Shouting is the voice of the Liver.
Compassion comes from a balanced Liver.
The Liver opens at the Eyes.
Anger is the mind of the Liver.
Anger damages the Liver.
The Liver stores the Blood.
The Liver belongs to Wood.
The Liver holds the office of the general; strategies emanate from it.
The Liver is associated to the Eyes, Sinews and Nails.

Food Recommendations

Sweet: beets, turnips, snow peas, spinach, carrots, whole grains, legumes and seeds
*encourages softening and relaxing of the body
Pungent: mint, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme, chives, green onions, garlic, ginger, watercress
*Upward and Outward, Dispersing the buildup of winter and mimicking the renewal of spring

Cooking Recommendations

Steam, Quick Boil, Quick Saute, Light Braise, Stir Fry, Spring Soups
Herbal recommendations:
Mountain Yam, White Peony, Goji Berries, Chrysanthemum Flowers, Honeysuckle Buds

*(Health care with medicinal substances should adhere to syndrome differentiation used in the right time and at the right amount. Otherwise, it may cause harm to the organism. Consult with a licensed practitioner before administration of any food or herbal therapy.)*

Product Picks

Chlorella Powder, Chrysanthemum, Calm Spirit, Goji Berry, Two Leaf Latte