In the theory of five elements or energies, wood or tree element is usually placed second in the supporting sequence of energies.
Five elements theory
The Five Energies are symbols of the relative attributes of manifestations of energy – physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. This is the backbone of Chinese medicine and astrology as well as feng shui. A more accurate name for this theory would be Five Energies (Going/Moving) or Five Transformations since these energies are constantly moving and changing, they’re not static.
Think of them symbolically. In your work, start to distinguish between the physical energies of water, tree, fire, earth and metal and the symbolic representation of that energy. For example, a wooden, curvy chair is made of the physical energy of the tree and can have symbolically a water quality because of its shape. A metal spoon is made up of the physical energy of metal and has a water quality because of its shape. A fountain is physically made up of water but symbolically has the tree energy because of its uplifting movement. Observe these energies around you and the people whom you are visiting. How have these energies served a positive role in people’s lives? Invite these energies to come alive in your own home.
Wood/tree element or energy
In short, the energy of wood or tree has an uplifting movement and feel. As mentioned earlier, wood/tree energy be physically made of wood or tree and have also symbolic meaning. Wood element corresponds to a season, colour, organ system, emotion, food, herbs and more.
- Time of day: morning
- Time of year: spring
- Energy: upward and outward
- Natural form: trees, grass, plants, flowers
- Direction: east
- Organ: liver and gall bladder
- Attitudes and values: positive, enthusiastic, growth, advancement, motivation
- Taste: sour
- Colour: green
- Bagua: family and wealth creation areas
- Industry and career: fashion, clothing, woodcraft, furniture, plants, herbs, education, new things
Trees are natural and physical embodiments of wood energy. Many trees have medicinal and healing properties. For example, birch trees (Betula) have amazing properties for combating a range of ailments such as inflammation, urinary tract infection, psoriasis, eczema, cancer and even HIV. Other examples: yew (Taxus baccata) is used for treating cancer, the coffee tree (Coffea arabica) for colds and flu, strychnine (Strychnos nux-vomica) for anaesthetics, happy tree (Camptotheca) for cancer, willow (Salix alba) for pain and cloths, cinchona for malaria (Quina-quina), olive tree (Olea europaea) for heart health and cancer, cacao (Tehobroma cacao) for asthma, walnut (Juglans regia and Juglans nigra) for colon cancer and heart issues.
Health benefits of trees and nature
Biophilia effect has been well recognised as benefits of nature for wellness and health. Research has shown that patients looking at trees from their hospital beds can cut the need for medication such as painkillers and reduce post-op complications. For example, a 2011 study in the Japanese Journal Of Hygiene reported that spending just five minutes in nature helped patients feel calmer, more positive about their recuperation. “Studies also show when people’s environments feature trees, their immune defences are enhanced and their levels of inflammation, blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol are all lowered. These latter factors can contribute to heart disease and cancer.” says pioneering investigator Dr Roger Ulrich, director of Texas A&M University’s Centre for Health Systems and Design, who studied the records of patients recovering from gallbladder surgery in a hospital between 1972 and 1981.
Greener, longer life: More trees reduce premature deaths in cities
The study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal, found that in cities from Barcelona to Perth, a 10% increase in greenery led to an average 4% reduction in premature mortality. “More green space is better for health,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director of the institute’s urban planning, environment and health initiative. “People actually live longer if there is more green space around.” Choose a city or town that has lots of trees. A rule of thumb is that a “nice green city” would have between 20% and 30% of every area covered in vegetation, he said.
Application of the tree element in feng shui and your home and workplace
Air pollution – solution: more trees
Air pollution is now well-recognised health hazard all over the world. In the UK alone, it’s estimated by BHF (British Heart Foundation) that poor air quality is responsible for about 36 000 deaths a year. The worst affected areas are in Greater London and boroughs of Newham, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Islington (with 70 local authorities consistently. breaking World Health Organisation safety limit for the most dangerous type of fine airborne particles). On average, city polluted air can be cutting seven months off lifespan. Planting more trees is an obvious solution. Getting an air purifier for your home or workplace is another.
Across the UK over 6,500 schools educating 2.6 million children are in areas with dangerously high levels of air pollution, usually caused by cars. Researchers at the British Heart Foundation found that air pollution in parts of Britain is so toxic that living there is compared to smoking more than 150 cigarettes a day. The worst polluted areas are London, Slough in Berkshire, Dartford in Kent and Portsmouth.
Plants and trees = cleaner and clear air
It’s well recognised that your home or workplace, indoor air can be more toxic than the traffic-chocked road outside.
So, how to breathe easily:
- Increase the number of air-cleaning plants.
- Avoid woodburners and if you have use them burn the correct fuel.
- Open windows while you cook and use extractor fans for maximum ventilation.
- Use low odour cleaning materials and avoid sprays.
- Don’t use candles. Natural and beeswax candles with a short wick produce less soot but it’s best to use flowers and other ways to scent your home.
- When doing home improvements choose paints and varnishes labelled as low-VOC.
- Make sure that new furnishings and clothes off-gas for a few days or months even.
- Humidity can affect air quality. Keep it below 50%
- Mould can thrive in cold spots so keep the temperature even throughout your home (ideally above 15C because you get surface condensation below it).
- Invest in an air purifier (Dyson or similar)or mechanical ventilation heat-recovery system (MVHR). These can be expensive but in the long run, they will help with your overall health.
Top feng shui tips for using the tree element
• Get a money plant which is symbolic of prosperity.
• Read above – get lots of air cleansing plants.
• Have fresh cut flowers whenever possible.
• For Christmas, have a real Xmas tree as opposed to plastic artificial one – research suggests that real trees are better for the environment since they can be replanted or recycled. You can use your Xmas tree as a feng shui remedy to activate a desired part of the bagua model.
• Have images of nature and uplifting themes such as balloons or children throwing confetti up.
• Have up-lighters and lamps shining light up.
Read about the water element