Features and Occasionals

The Yin and Yang of Spring

By Valerie Litchfield

Feng shui for your body, house and mind.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, health and well-being are rooted in seasonal changes. Early Taoism observed that yin and yang met at axis point in the center of a circle— symbolized by the merging of black (yin) and white (yang)—and subtly transformed each other. In Taoist philosophy, the always changing universe and its movement caused cycles and patterns such as the four seasons. These changes could be mapped out in the movement of the sun and seen in the seasons of life: birth, growth, maturation, decline and death.

The five distinct transformations of yin and yang form the Five Elements Theory, a simple and elegant system for understanding the basic phases underlying the energy of life, health and good fortune. Water, wood, fire, earth and metal symbolize more than just the physical substance—each is associated with a season, a color, bodily organs, a direction and many other things.

In spring, associated with wood, come out from the cold and hardened surface of winter and take action on a new life plan that reflects your inner desires.

The spring wind is nature’s broom. Windy days clear the air and urge us to let go of what isn’t working. Spring cleaning, wood element-style, begins by identifying old patterns and then releasing (or transforming) the items tied to them. The wood element is active, vigorous and green. It is the symbol of rebirth, optimism and upward movement.

A time for cleansing and balancing

The organs governed by wood are the liver and gallbladder. Because of its size, the liver is considered to be the general in Chinese Medicine, in charge of defending the body and regulating energy flow and blood to all the other parts. Cracking, discoloration or vertical lines in the nails (especially the toenails) indicate a liver imbalance. The eyes also indicate liver health, with clear tissue and color being optimal and showing the smooth functioning of the liver. Dullness, tearing problems or a need for corrective lenses relates to the lack of energy flow from the liver.

The liver is considered to be the dwelling place of the soul. It controls the mind’s instincts and responds to life, knowing when to advance and when to retreat. A well-choreographed life comes from a balanced liver. Liver health means that intellect is tempered with kindness, cool heads prevail and a willingness to work creatively with others is the norm. An unbalanced liver, however, can drive one to anger and violence, opportunism, stubborness or even obsession. Feelings of guilt, ambivalence, boredom or depression also signal liver issues that need to be brought to balance.

In Chinese Medicine the gallbladder—a pear-shaped organ near the liver that secretes bile and aids in digestion—is related to decision-making and the daily “to do” list. Having too many things to do and too many big decisions could, over time, add stress to the gallbladder. A poorly functioning gallbladder can cause headaches, sluggishness and indecision, a signal that you many need to simplify life and cleanse your body.

Spring is the optimal season to begin a cleanse. Cleansing can be as simple as adding lemons to your water and increasing the greens in your diet. I personally like the Master Cleanser or lemonade diet, a simple and effective spring cleanse that can be performed as a fast for three to 10 days. The lemons and the cayenne pepper assist the body in removing toxins and mucus while the maple syrup is a source of energy. (Before starting any cleanse or big shift in your diet, consult your healthcare practitioner.)

Stanley Burroughs’ Master Cleanser

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice.

1-2 tablespoons 100% maple syrup

1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 ounces of spring water

Drink liberally—6-12 glasses a day.

Two cleansing plants that grow prolifically in the spring and are easy to harvest are dandelion and peppermint. Dandelions are high in vitamin A and are great in salads or steeped and consumed as a tea. They are particularly good for cleansing the blood and as a liver tonic. Peppermint can be used as a tea to freshen the body from the inside out or aromatically in a diffuser to increase vitality.

East, the direction of the sunrise and the birth place of each new day, is governed by the wood element. If you find yourself to be a morning person, one who easily gets out of bed, then you have a healthy balance of wood. If the opposite is true, then your wood element needs a tune-up. Stagnation in the form of clutter or unused items may well be the cause of oversleeping and could also be holding up future plans.


The family is also associated with the forceful and determined energy of wood. All of us have a place on the family tree and so it is wise to acknowledge our heritage and to display it in our homes. The east section of the house or a room is the ideal place to display family photos and treasured family mementoes. Visual reminders of where we came from can create a solid foundation on which to build our future. Healthy family relationships can act as a springboard for growth and opportunities in our lives. Further enhance the east section of your home with healthy plants and art that depicts flowers, gardens and green landscapes.

In Chinese Medicine the human desire associated with wood is purpose, and the path is action. Spring is the time to take inventory. Notice the people and events that make you smile and the activities and projects that you naturally do well. Creating a space in our homes where we can explore, develop and work with things that inspire us is a constructive use of our time. Surrounding ourselves with items that support and symbolize our purpose will keep us excited and connected to what it is that we want to achieve. u

Valerie Litchfield is a longtime feng shui practitioner with LifeAlign Classical Compass Feng Shui. She lives in Salt

Lake City.

This article was originally published on April 1, 2017.