The Five Elements | Meridian/Channels | Dan Tian
The Five Elements
The Five Elements takes us further into the philosophical and theoretical principles of qi gong. As noted above, the Five Elements are: water, wood, fire, earth and metal. These are representations of qi, not literal substances. Each element contains everything from the organs to the planets, from emotions to smells. The idea is that one “gives birth” to the next. Thus the water element nourishes its child the wood element. From that idea, the wood element nourishes the fire element, which nourishes the earth element, which then nourishes the metal element. Aneasy way to remember this is to look at the names. With water, you get life: wood. What happens to wood? It burns, i.e. fire. When the fire is done burning the wood, there is earth. What can be found in the ground? Metal. When the moisture in the air condenses, one can find water on metal. And the cycle continues. There is also the opposite; one also blocks or controls or brings another back into balance. When one of the elements is out of balance, another can control it. For example, when there is a flood, or a rush of water, earth is a good way to stop it, earth makes a good dam. Obviously a metal axe cuts down trees (wood). To prevent landslides, planting trees (wood) will keep the earth from crumbling. To put out a fire, use water. Fire is used to heat up metal to melt it. The Five Elements (water, wood, fire, earth, and metal) are only symbols for a category, not to taken literally.
THE FIVE ELEMENT LIST
In the body, there are many kinds of systems. There is the nervous system, the cardio-vascular system, digestive system, lymphatic system. In Western medical books, one will not find the qi channels or meridians. Nonetheless, this is also a system that flows through the body that one cannot visibly see; the meridians. The body has many such channels running through it. Acupuncturists’ only use14 channels, other channels deep in the body are not used. Channels that are blocked or stagnant result in a weaker body more prone to get sick. When a person is sick, pressing on certain acupoints hurt more because those points are blocked. Using acupuncture or acupressure helps open the acupoints, and will help cure the body’s disease.
The 14 main, or external channels as I have experienced it, work in relationship with the 5 elements and the yin and yang. The channels have many things that are incorporated into them. Note the 5 element chart classifies organs as yin or yang. The 14 external channels are:
Ren and du, lungs and large intestine, pericardium (controls hormones) and san jiao (immune system), heart and small intestine, kidney and bladder, liver and gall bladder, spleen and stomach.
The dan tian is the reservoir of qi in the body. There are actually many dan tians. However, when people mention the dan tian, they are most likely referring to the lower dan tian, which is located in the abdominal section. This is a very important place in the body. A strong dan tian means that a person is strong with the qi. A person can be physically scrawny, but if the dan tian is strong, he or she can do amazing things. By practicing qi gong or the martial arts, one is strengthening the body, the flow of qi, and strengthening the dan tian. This will help a healthy mind in harmony with a healthy body.
The channels and dan tians allow for the qi in your body to flow and keep you healthy. Like everything else in the world, it can “break down”, so by practicing qi gong, you can keep it running and not have problems. So I urge you to practice qi gong!
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