Qigong and the Five Phases

“The Five Elements are not elements so much as activities” John Blofeld

More commonly referred to as Five Element Theory, using the word phase instead of element more accurately reflects the dynamic nature of the relationship between the elements and how they relate to the seasons and our organ systems.

The Daoists observed that five basic energy transformations flow from the yin and the yang interactions: Wood represents energy that is a developing and generating. Fire represents energy that is expanding and radiating. Earth represents energy that is stabilizing and centering. Metal represents energy that is solidifying and contracting. Water represent energy that is conserving, gathering, sinking.

The same dynamic characteristics can easily be observed in the seasonal changes. In some climates thoses changes are more sublte, but they can be perceived even here in Santa Barbara, California. In Daoist tradition, there are five seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Indian Summer, and Autumn.

Each organ is energetically connected to an element according to their own types of activities or functions. In some cases the connection is obvious: Just as fire is expanding and radiating, the heart propulses fresh blood (our main source of energy) throughout our entire body. With practice, one can begin to feel these energies internally.

Winter is associated with Water, and the Kidney/Urinary Bladder organ group.

Spring is associated with Wood, and the Liver/Gallbladder organ group.

Summer is associated with Fire, and the Heart/Small Intestine organ group.

Indian Summer is associated with Earth, and the Spleen/Stomach organ group.

Winter is associated with Metal, and the Lung/Large Intestine organ group.

Again, it helps to think of these associations in energetic/dynamic terms. The liver is not similar to a piece of wood, but the functions of the liver are similar to the functions of wood that is growing and alive. Additionally, it is in the relationship between the different phases, seasons, and organs that one can begin to understand how these concepts can help us heal.

This website offers a great chart of the five phases  and has excellent general information on TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

 

 

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