The wood element is the expression of our individuality. Suppressing who we are has an effect on the organs of the wood element – the liver and the gallbladder.
Often they are also called “the general” (liver) and “the chief officer” (gallbladder), sometimes they are considered as “the architect” (liver) and “the master builder” (gallbladder). The architect is the planner and the creative energy that wants to find expression, the builder is the executing energy that makes decisions:
Considering options, wondering whether to go left or right, therefore the meridians run along the sides of the body.
The liver on the inside (yin-meridian) is the energy that gives us the possibility to plan our life’s journey. It’s the view within to finding our potentials and our individuality. The gallbladder meridian (yang) runs along the outside of our body and is in charge of carrying out, it is the active expression of who we are.
The word “liver” contains the word “live” as it has this strong force to maintain and express life. It is the “mother of emotions”, so any disharmony in the wood energy is most likely caused by emotional issues.
We are able to realise our plans and intentions when the liver is in a state of harmony:
We have the energy to work hard on reaching our goals and to create and express ourselves. If there is a disbalance it’s possible that the plans exist but don’t get executed.
According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the liver stores the blood and regulates the free flow of Qi. In case of poor distribution we can experience phases of high motivation, followed by exhaustion.
Other imbalances of the liver energy can be: physical and mental inflexibility, PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), mood swings, intense or unreasonable outbursts of emotions, aggression (seeing others as obstacles on our path) or shyness (the lack of courage to walk our path).
If we don’t get the chance to make our own decisions from early on, and if we cannot unfold our individuality we become incapable of living our potential. When our true self doesn’t find expression, we often develop conditional excessive behaviours, such as drinking, or over-eating, anorexia or drug abuse. The pain might get numbed temporarily but it stresses the functions of the liver.
The gallbladder is the officer in the field who makes decisions. That requires determination and the courage to take risks. The expression “to have the gall” is therefore used in the sense of “boldness”. In order to make decisions we need to have a clear vision and we need to free ourselves from biases.
The meridian runs along the sides of the head, laterally along the body down to the feet. Migraine and related vision disorders are a common symptom of a disharmony, so are complaints with shoulders, hips or sciatic pain and anything in the lateral body area. Stiffness in our muscles or hyper flexibility are influenced by the gallbladder, as well.
Sometimes we feel like we are split in two – one side of the body shows a different level of tension than the other. This can be caused by being in conflict of two facades of the personality:
For instance the gap between how we want our life to be, what we value in life and what’s important to us versus what we do, how we act, and how we live our life instead. We cannot suppress our nature, no matter how hard we try.
You can find release of complaints through movement, relaxation (yoga is ideal as you gain strength and flexibility, you find relaxation and you step into awareness as the goal of yoga is self-realisation) and also through involvement in your patterns, beliefs (coaching, therapy). But any kind of sports that you love and enjoy doing will balance your liver and gallbladder energy, as long as you find the time to relax as well.
When the liver and the gallbladder work together in harmony we have a healthy judgement and make the required decisions to follow our life’s plan.