The Five Elements
You may have heard of the five elements, but have you ever wanted to learn more about them? The roots of Chinese Medicine are in Taoism, so the body is understood as a microcosmos the natural world, with each organ embodying an element. The Heart is ascribed to Fire. The Liver to Wood. The Kidneys are Water. The Spleen (and digestive system) is Earth. And the Lungs are Metal. Throughout each of these systems Qi runs as the fuel, the veins, the fibers, roots, and currents.
Each element has a time of the year, a time of the day, a color, a sound, a flavor, a smell. The five elements are the basic building blocks of classifying and understanding body and place. From these elements all flavors, emotions, thoughts, colors, and everything grow. The five elements are the palette of creation.
The art of balance is inherent to the medicine. A certain amount of an element’s key principles nourish it; but too little and it is depleted, too much and it is overtaxed. Take for example, salt. Salt is the flavor of the Kidneys. Too little, too much, or just right makes a big difference in not only the function of the Kidneys, but in their energetics.
The elements each also pertain to our emotions and thoughts. The Heart holds our joy and also our shame. The Liver is the hub of anger, and also the source of creativity. Fear is contained in the Kidney, where we also find willpower. The Lungs are the grip of grief and also the reflection of self-worth. The Spleen is the place from where we nourish and also the place that falls prey to rumination.
The elements are independent but completely intrinsic to each other, as any other ecosystem is. They have a generative cycle and a dominating cycle. They can engender one another or halt the flow of qi in one another. The basics of Chinese Medicine are to understand this arrangement in the body and to establish a flow of qi throughout the elements that is conducive to health and healing. It’s an art of seeing, interpreting and designing. The body is the art.
Here is a five element meditation for you:
Imagine that within your body there is this ecosystem, this living breathing system of all the elements. Lets start with earth. Close your eyes and imagine that your body is made of earth, of dirt. See the roots and the bugs and microbes that are inherent to good soil. Now imagine that within this earth through quick time, a quarry of stone and metal is forming. Imagine this metal building itself deep in the earth. It brings a sense of strength and steadfastness. Imagine beads of water coming through the metal and dripping down until they form a river. The river trickles, the builds and rushes through the quarry, carving its bed into the soil. It is free and fresh and sparkling. The water spreads to nourish the seeds in the soil and trees sprout. Imagine the fresh burst of energy in your ecosystem as trees begin to grow. See the trees growing and reaching up the sky. Imagine the rains and the storms and the wild lightning that strikes one tree into flame. See the fire ripple through the forest and feel the light and heat of the fire. Then there is space, and the quiet alchemy of change as that forest becomes ash. The power of destruction engenders new creation. Matter changes into different matter. The ash becomes more soil. And the cycle continues.
Copyright © 2015 Liz Greenhill Acupuncture, All rights reserved.
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