The Five Elements and meridian flow of chi moves through the body, like waves of water through to the sea. Chi may start as a still well of water. Now a spring, where the water slowly springs from the earth. The water increases and runs into a stream and the water runs along at a faster speed. The stream expands into a river. The river then parts into the sea where the water runs deep. The point at which the Qi rises is known as the Jing-Well. At the Ying-Spring the Qi glides across the point. The Qi then flows at the Jing river, and then as an estuary flowing into the sea, the Qi expands and enters deep into the body - ultimately converging with CV17, Sea of Tranquility, our Core. The Heart.
The Five Elements show us how the structures and systems in our bodies are connected to each other; how we are connected to our environment and the natural world; how our world is part of the greater universe. It’s easy to go through life without realizing or contemplating in a deep way just how everything is linked to everything else. Just as the well flows to the sea, The Five Elements tells us how everything interconnected.
Five Element theory provides a framework in which to understand and treat all health issues—body, mind, emotions, and spirit. The Five Elements include the internal organs, and the interconnected and interacting relationships between them often fall out of balance, creating health issues.
Springtime is associated with the element Wood. It’s a wonderful time when the plants begin to grow and the leaves sprout green anew. Seeds, ideas or thoughts planted back in Water/Zhi or Winter time now begin to take form.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the Wood element represents the liver and the gall bladder sometimes referred to as the spirit of Hun, or Shen energy. The liver function is called the Official of Strategic Planning, the grand architect for our vision of the future; this official sees the directions we must take to live our lives in harmony with nature. Its companion, the Gall Bladder Official, gives the ability to make decisions and judge wisely.
The functions of Hun :
As mentioned above, the Wood element within us governs our sense of vision, the emotion of anger, and the sound of shouting, and the colour is green, the essence is blood/bile, controls tendons, ligaments, sinews and nails and Eyes.
When vision is stifled, this may lead us to feel anger: we've made our plan, decided to act, taken aim, and suddenly our plans are thwarted, when we are angry or frustrated we either moan or shout. Anger has sayings like “she/he makes my blood boil” or “I am so angry I could scream”. When there is a lack of flow of Wood energy, it may impact our physical being such as tension in the tendons, ligaments and skeletal muscles.
What of people whose Wood is chronically imbalanced, who can't level out? Aside from the many problems that can arise in relationship to the liver and gall bladder, imagine the perpetual anger and frustration of those who feel blocked in all directions, to whom every interaction is a confrontation. Being blocked prevents the person from changing or finding a new direction out of their chaotic lives, they then become ‘stuck’. Literally, one can not see the forest for the trees.
If you feel that you are energetically, psychologically or physically “stuck,” to help unblock stuck energy there are many ways that we can work. Often spring-cleaning your home or garden, or body is a beneficial way to get energy flowing. As spring time is associated with detoxing and cleanses, making healthy diet or nutritional changes in an attempt to cleanse the blood for ease of flow. Kinesiologists/acupuncturists choose among hundreds of acupuncture points, each with its own special quality, each uniquely appropriate for a cleint at the right time in treatment. In additional to Tai-Chi Qigong/Yoga movements that support the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians.
Gall Bladder 24 called “Sun and Moon ” The Gall Bladder Official requires clear vision in order to decide on a course of action. All possibilities must be seen and considered. When we are out of balance, we identify with only one position and become attached to it; in so doing, we lose our wise judgment. We see things as either black or white, dark or light. This point creates a balance that enables us to see both sides impartially - to see by both the “light of the sun” and the “light of the moon.” From clarity, we can take action with certainty and strength, see the wood through the forest!
Liver 1, “Great Esteem,” is located near the lateral corner of the nailbed of the big toe, and comes up frequently within a Kinesiology balancing session. This is the first point on the Liver meridian - the beginning of spring growth: the energy is present, the plan formulated, the way clear. Any new undertaking is accompanied by uncertainties and risks, but they must not thwart us in reaching our goal. It is in our nature to grow, to begin anew and take our first steps. “Great Esteem” grants us the confidence to surge forth with the power of springtime - to push ahead, give birth, and grow.
Liver 14, “Gate of Hope”, is used to harmonises the Liver and Stomach meridians, help move blood and spreads Liver qi. Calms an angry digestion or digestion upset by emotions, leading to belching, burping, regurgitation, acidity, hiccough, vomiting food or inability to swallow.
Summer time is the height of the Fire element, heat rising like a camp fire or flame to peak activity of full yang.We experience Fire, one of the elemental powers, that allows us to expand to our maximum potential.For many of us in summer time we seek out the sun, sunshine, outdoor exercise and sport activities or we just gravitate to hot sunny climates.The sun is considered yang as it gives energy, causes action and outward movement, and creates the hot and dry climate.
Fire is symbolic of purification to burn away ones sins, candles in churches and religion, and after by the phoenix that rises from the ashes from purification into resurrection. Fire also can be destructive, it is needed to burn something up, however even a forest fire will allow for new growth to emerge. The Solar fire energy of the sun is life giving, without the sun our planet would not exist. In a forest fire we need the spark of the fire element, the previous spring/wood element to burn and the autumn Earth element to stablize to enable transformation. Water to calm and cool if necessary.
The Five elements represent a cycle of flow. In Chinese traditional medicine and the theory of the Five Elements, we must learn to flow as nature does, through the seasons. Tension happens when we resist this flow, and illness may occur when we resist our changes. Illness is usually a process, which makes us more receptive and more open to change. Energy must stay in motion within us and in our life to continually nourish us and create harmony within. Therefore change is essential part of our cycle of flow from one phase to the next.
What is the energy of fire?
Fire is light and warmth, and its function in the body is to maintain heat, but also to give warmth to others. The Fire element gives enthusiasm, vitality, and energy. Fire is also the energy of creativity, intuition, insight and motion or action. It also relates to the color red. Red representing passion/compassion, love/sex but also desire and hot emotions. This element is associated with mental activity, memory, thought processes, emotional well-being such as emotions of joy, or the lack of joy. The flavor associated with this element is bitter. Fire Element is Shen.
Summer/Fire element is a time of activity and the heat and of fire is a form of transformation. If there is something we wish to change, then Fire is the time to bring action to that cause. During this time, we encourage action and activities like these four distinct ways to work with the fire element :
Out of the five element, fire is the only one that represents 4 of the meridians :Heart, Small Intestines, Pericardium (sometimes known as circulation-sex) and Triple Warmer. Heart is circulation system, the pericardium is the protective sac that envelops the heart from protection (physiologically and psychologically) and Triple Warmer regulates our temperature, heat and works with the nervous system in times of stress to invoke the sympathetic nervous system response of fight/flight/fright. The Small Intestines is where we absorb nutrients which are feed back into the body, deciphers the pure from the impure and can become overwhelmed.
Fire is deficient: chills and numbness of the extremities, impaired circulation of the blood and bodily fluids, and menstrual, urinary, and sexual dysfunction. The lungs can lose their ability to expand and contract fully and easily, resulting in poor oxygenation of the blood, coughing, and nasal congestion. We may experience sluggish digestion, abdominal pain, and watery diarrhea because the digestive organs lack the heat needed to process and assimilate nourishment.
At the other extreme, excessive heat can result in painful inflammation of the joints, hypersexuality, chronic infections, dryness of the lung, inflamed throat and sinus, burning diarrhea and urination. Excess heat can also dry out the stool and cause constipation. Affecting the heart, an excess of Fire can cause anxiety and sleep disturbance.
Fire affects the amount of fluid in the body: Too much heat dries up our internal reservoirs and waterways, and at the other extreme too little heat can result in an excess of fluid. Menstruation, sexual secretions, lubrication at joints, digestion, and metabolism, to name a few, reflect and depend upon the balance of our Fire element.
Fire imbalance can manifest as being stuck in overexpansion like a never-ending summer: too hot, too much, the perpetual clown, always laughing, always joking, always talking, always "on," never allowing a decrease.Excessive vulnerability, no protection, constant heartbreak, Hot-flashes, Skin eruptions, Blood and circulatory disorders, Heart disease, Neck and shoulder pain, Excessive or deficient sexual energy, sexual dysfunction and no boundaries.
Fire at the shen/spirit level : On a deeper level, the Fire element expresses itself as joy and manifests within us as love, laughter, and enthusiasm. During summer, the season of maximum expansion, we can become aware of ourselves at our fullest. Drawing on the expansive warmth of Fire we can reach out and relate to the world like a flower opening. Working to improve our relationship with the Self, I am and other relationships of the heart.
Shen imbalances : insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, palpitations, inability to concentrate, timidity, being easily startled, being overly talkative, forms of schizophrenic or bi-polar manic, incoherence, restlessness and hyperactivity. Inability to form relationships with others or self.
Shen is said to reside like a nest in the heart, when there is discourse, discomfort or disharmony, shen no longer are able to stay in the heart and flutters of the heart can be felt. Any unsettling or traumatic experience that has frightened the birds of the spirit away from their nest in the heart space requires the shen to be once more gentle invited and settled back and there are a number of techniques to encourage and re-settle them with love, space and peaceful calm. Shock can be a trigger for such an occurrence.
We can see that Fire Element can be a glorious time for us and a challenging time for others with its huge array of attributes due to any imbalances. Summer is a time to embrace the positive aspects of Fire, and work with the imbalances for transformation.
Acupuncture Points :
Classical acupuncture utilizes hundreds of points along the energy pathways of the body to create harmony and balance and generate what is lacking in body, mind, and spirit. Virtually every point has its own unique and profound power, appropriate to a patient at the proper time.
Heart 1, "Utmost Source" Our flowering as individuals is possible only because we are part of Nature. If unaware of this essential truth, we can feel isolated and spiritually cut off, uninspired, fearful, empty, and disconnected from life. When the acupuncture point "Utmost Source" is used at the right time, it can reestablish our connection to the Divine and can awaken us to the security provided by the current of love that permeates existence.
Small Intestine 16, "Heavenly Window" The small intestine in Chinese medicine is termed the sorter of the pure from the impure. Physically, this organ separates nutrients from the waste in the food we eat. Similarly, the enormous amount of mental and emotional input we absorb daily undergoes an "ordeal by fire" that separates what is useful from what is not. Sometimes mental pollution overwhelms us faster than we can process it, and we begin to view the world as negative and hopeless, a despair that then may affect the body. When the "Heavenly Window" is opened, light can enter and dispel that toxicity. We can begin to find within ourselves the clear space to expand into the joy present in every season - but especially so in the summer.
The earth element, like each of the five elements, has a distinct energy and is said to control certain areas of our emotions, the bodies connection to the Stomach and Spleen meridians and with the Solar Plexus chakra. Earth also known as Yi is represented by late summer. Late summer is that time of year after the peak of summer but before the autumn when the leaves start to fall. Earth energy is that of storing and processing food. The ability to provide is an essential part of caring for others and indeed ourselves.
People with a constitutional imbalance in earth or “Earth types” can have issues around nourishment both on a physical and emotional level. Earth types can develop eating disorders or just have an unhealthy relationship with food, feel empty. On a psychological level this process enables us to digest our experiences, impressions and turn them into usable ideas and concepts for growth and development. They can also often feel unsupported and unstable. Sometimes the need or desire to help others can become all consuming or else can cross the boundary into smothering. Earth virtue is devotion. We devote our time and energy to others. It is equally important that we devote time to ourselves.
The colour associated with earth is yellow. Yellow is very much the colour of harvest time. The sound associated with the earth element is vibration especially achieved through singing, prayer, chanting or mantra. When we are trying to soothe or comfort someone, especially a child or baby, we naturally change the tone of our voice to singing.
To help keep our Earth energy balanced and in harmony with the 5 elements we need to engage in some forms of movement, physically and energetically. Such practices as moving meditation (kriya), Tai-Chi Qigong, Yoga, Walking, Aerobics and/or dance. Motion stills the mind as chi energy moves through the body.
What may imbalance our earth energy is obsessive thoughts and repetitive thought patterns, worry, continual focus or brooding on our own problems, being illogical or not making logical connections to problems, eating too much especially sugary type foods, binges to bulimia, anemia or vitamin deficiency, co-dependency and/or over-nurturing of others and avoiding our own responsibility for growth and development all leading to exhaustion and long-term strain. Digestion problems linked to IBS. The hormone connected to the “gut” meridians is serotonin, the relaxation hormone and linked with the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) that governs the function of the gastrointestinal system. If there is a lack of earth energy there may be Spleen chi stagnation, which may be indicated by too much mucus or phlegm, or loose cough, distention, big beer-belly or bloating, varicose veins, in the caring profession, or care for someone. When we have deficiency Spleen-Chi we tend to eat to replenish it, instead of the energy being upwards, the energy has a downward motion to the stomach, tiredness and repeated infections, weight issues.
The Spleen is a complex meridian and desires a whole blog of its own. The spleen is linked to the immune system, with blood and the liver, keeping the blood clean, removes old red blood cells, fights infection, supports the liver, produces white blood cells and is the only organ that can regenerate itself. It has a strong relationship with the pancreas. In Chinese medicine the spleen is as important as the Heart, Lungs, Liver and Kidney’s and is a yin organ.
To better establish a relationship with your Yi element :
Fire is Mother to Earth, Earth is child to Fire, and mother to Metal in the Sheng creative cycle. So if we did not create or tend to our fire element through summer we may be deficient for Earth, or if we were too manic over the summer, it’s a time to take stock slow down and (ground) and let the earth absorb some of that excess energy and heat.
Acupuncture points :
There are forty-five acupuncture points on the stomach meridian (energy pathway). Each point has a unique and specific purpose in restoring balance and harmony to the stomach function as Nature ordained it, healing in ways that are often suggested by the name of a point.
Stomach 25 : (Celestial Pivot) located at the centre of the body on the abdomen 2 inches lateral to umbilicus. This treats physical symptoms such as constipation, nausea, poor appetite and digestive issues, and abdominal distress.
Stomach 20: (Receiving Fullness) located just under the ribs. For a person in such a state of depletion, Stomach 20 can open the empty storehouse so the person can begin to receive the abundance that Nature offers to us all.
Kidney 1 : (Bubbling Springs) under the sole of the foot, is also an important acupoint and the location used for grounding meditation in Yoga and Tai-Chi Qigong and our connection with the Earth.
When we enter the world as a new born baby the first thing we do is cry and take a breath, and when its time for us to leave this world we take our last breath, and others cry for us. Chi enters the lungs as breath and when the chi leaves we die. With breath all things are possible. The inspiration of air triggers all the physiological life functions that enable us to survive. The circulating breath or chi/qi is known as a kind of spirit called the Corporeal Soul or Po. There is a saying : Long breath long life. Short breath short life. No breath, death.
The Five Element are how in Chinese Traditional Medicine they see the world and our time on it. Autumn is represented by the Metal element (air). Grief is the emotion of the Metal element. We all experience disappointment, loss, death, separation, and “letting go,” and we appropriately feel grief at those times. Even reaching a stage in your life when you either retire, resign or cease doing something you have done for a long time may create grief. Ankle prevents you from running. Shoulder pain prevents you for doing a manual job. Even a new-born baby cries at the loss of not being in the womb and mothers suffering with postpartum at the separation. Autumn time marks the end of the growing season - a turning inward, a falling away of outer-directed energy. Leaves turn colour and drop. The old leaves go back to the earth, enriching it to promote the coming of new leaves, a new harvest. It gives us our sense of quality and value, and our capacity to look at what lies beyond ourselves. Autumn and Metal is represented by the Lungs and Large Intestines. The time of Lung chi/qi is 3-5am, and Large Intestines 5-7am. If we feel fatigued in the afternoon 3-7pm this is when Lung chi/qi is at its lowest.
So Metal and Autumn can be challenging subject as we talk about grief, loss, death and dying. Not a subject matter that most of us want to face. At some time we will all die, in the meantime the aim is to live fully with love and awareness. As death and especially the grief process is a huge topic. I will write about this separately. And not a coincident that “STOPTOBER” is the challenge to give up smoking for 28 days through October. Again another subject matter that requires a separate blog.
The Lungs and Inspiration There is more to this season than “letting go” - it is also a time to take in the pure. The air in autumn takes on a new crispness. Think of waking up on a brisk fall day and filling your lungs with that clean, cool autumn air. The Lung, the other organ contained within the Metal element, enables us to take in the pure, the new. It grants us the inspiration of a breath of fresh air. In classical Chinese medicine, the Lung is described as “the receiver of the pure Chi from the Heavens.” Lung energy sends Chi/Qi downwards to where it is grasped by the Kidneys. People that smoke inhale smoke in a downward motion that prevents them for having an appetite. Asthmatic people never feel able to fully catch their breath or send the energy downwards, which may lead to barrel chested-ness. The lung channel spreads over the diaphragm and the floating ribs nearly. The ribcage and diaphragm is affected by shock, especially loss or grief and can impact the way we breath, causing further Lung stagnation. We hold a lot of tension in the ribcage.
The Large Intestines, Colon and Letting Go. The Colon part of the Large Intestines, one of the two organs in the Metal element, has the function of eliminating what is unnecessary or toxic from our bodies. But we are more than just physical bodies. Think of the daily onslaught of “garbage” directed at our minds and our spirit. We need to eliminate mental and spiritual rubbish, lest our minds become toxic and constipated, unable to experience the pure and the beautiful that also surround us. The Colon function on the mental and spirit level enables us to let go of all this waste. The Large Intestines meridian end points are located at the nostril/nose, so is the sense organ connected to Metal. The nose has hair that filters the debris, mucus for moisture to defend the inside of the body from harmful particles and pathogens, and to regulate the air, hot or cold before it reaches the lungs.
Imbalances, congestion or stagnation :
The Lung and Colon work together as a team, one taking in the pure, the other eliminating waste. If these organs failed to do their jobs, imagine what might result - certainly we might experience physical ailments of the Lung and Colon such as bronchitis, shortness of breath, cough, allergies, nasal congestion, emphysema, colds, sore throat, constipation, diarrhea, spastic colon, and abdominal pain, IBS flare-ups, skin conditions and tiredness and fatigue. Breath is energy, sufficient breath leaves us feeling very depleted and exhausted.
Spleen creates phlegm, but lungs store it. Spleen creates too much wind which can turn to phlegm. Hence, if we have not done our grounding and earthered ourselves fully from the previous element Earth, then we may have phlegm stored which can create coughs, colds and congestion stored by the lungs. Also if we are not receiving sufficient downward chi/qi enter from lungs, instead we turn to food which moves downwards to stomach. We may tend to overeat this time of year. Consume the harvest. We eat more to compensate for lack of lung chi/qi. When there is sufficient lung chi/qi Liver/Spleen are challenged, poor immune response.
On an emotional level deficiency or poor functioning lung chi/qi are not good at dealing with worry, grief, separation and sadness. They may take many years to adapt to the departure, loss or death of someone close. Sadness is very close to grief, like regret but not the same. Time and lack of it, and how precarious time is. Living in the present moment, not past or future It is harder to express sadness without showing it. Deep sadness over time leaves a mark on the voice. The voice may be quiet, dull, tired almost old. Being dogmatic. Obsessional or depression and chronic tension. So no surprise that talking and especially singing out loud may help rebalance lung chi/qi and well as movement which encourages us to breath more and deeply.
Ways to balance Lung meridian :
The Chemical formular of water is H20. Each water molecule is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, thus there are two "H" atoms and one
"O". A water molecule, because of its shape, is a polar molecule. That is, it has one side that is positively charged and one side that is negatively charged. An analogy of hydrogen bonds are like the bond between two magnets, and convalent bonds, as a strong glue bond.
The body is approximately made up of 70% water, 20% protein, 12% fats, and a few incidentals on top of that. By number of molecules, we are pretty much entirely water.
Water for Growth
The growth and development of all things rely on water. Water is the most abundant ingredient in the human body and used through all phases of growth and development. Plants need water for growth, alongside sunlight and nutrients. For many of us, we are lucky to have access to an abundance of clean, fresh water supplies - we need to be conscious of those that are not. The developing baby foetus is cushioned inside a fluid-filled bag (amniotic sac) in the uterus (womb). When baby is ready to be born, this water sac breaks.
Water Brain Food
If we lose our vital connection with this life giving substance, through a lack of water, this may result in stress in physiological systems. All the fluids of the body become affected, the information transmission is scrambled, and we no longer work efficiently on all levels. Without sufficinet water, we're not allowing the fluid intelligence of life to nurture and sustain us. When can then see how Water is an essential nutrient for Mental functioning. Making connections, finding meaning, and solving problems are learning tasks that require lightning-fast electrical impulses between areas of the brain. CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) washes through parts of the spine and brain, like a water bath.
Every system in your body depends on water to function. Water is essential to your body's temperature regulation, keeping it cool through perspiration. Water flushes out toxins and wastes. Water is a major component of blood which carries nutrients and oxygen to and from all cells. Water provides a moist environment for all body tissues. It is the major component of saliva and mucous which lubricates the membranes that line our digestive system beginning with the mouth. Mucous membranes in the nose and eyes function better when well hydrated. Water cushions joints and protects tissues and organs like the brain from shock and damage.
Water for Weight Loss
The process of burning calories requires an adequate supply of water in order to function efficiently; dehydration slows down the fat-burning process. It is hard to distinguish between hunger and thirst. If you feel hungry, drink some water first and then reassess your hunger status.
Water, Lack of
Dehydration is a condition that occurs when the loss of body fluids, mostly water, exceeds the amount that is taken in. When we lose too much water, our bodies may become out of balance or dehydrated. Water is an important part of your daily bodily functions, so it is important to continually replenish it. Each day, your body loses 2-3 quarts of water through sweat, urination, excretion and breathing. The body loses even more water if you exercise, live in hot or dry climates, consume high fibre diets, and consume caffeine or alcohol. Fully hydrated body is essential for energy and muscle testing techniques.
When water spirals, it's making the movement of creation. All growth takes place in a spiral. The DNA in the center of each of our cells is a spiral - a double helix that carries our inheritance. Ancestral influences are passed on through it and also through the water element, according to ancient chinese tradition. The emerging science of epigenetics is now showing us that we not only inherit physical traits (such as size, eye colour, and tendancies toward particular diseases) but also emotional states. These are often held in the water element and in particular in the kidney meridian, one of the paths of energy that run through the body. (Kidney energy problems often manifest as anxiety or fear).
Water, and Planet Earth
From space, Earth is the colour Blue due to the amount of oceans that cover the surface. Hence, it is often called the Blue Planet or the Water Planet. Water is abundant in the Universe, however the liquid form is rare. Cosmology is only now discovering other "goldilock" planets that may contain water, if the right size and right distance away from their suns, within our Cosmos.
A comprehensive and empowering approach of uniting the whole self - Physical Body, physiological, Neurological psychological, Emotional & Mental Mind, Biochemical, Nutritional factors, Bioenergetics, Spiritual awakening and discovery, Soul connection and reconnection.