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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 Elements are used for healing illnesses. To balance the energies in the body, one must understand how one organ helps the others. And it is not only the organs. The impact of emotions, eating habits, smells, seasons, numbers, and colors all can knock the energy balance off, and can put the balance of energies back in place. The chart below lists some of what is included in the Five Elements. So for example, if the kidneys are weak, the bladder may be too strong. To balance this, one can use acupuncture or acupressure to “drain” the bladder’s too strong energies to the kidneys to balance the two. Or another thing one can do is to give more energy from the kidneys “mother”, the lungs. Or add energy to the spleen to control the bladder. There are different ways to balance the yin and yang. Each illness is slightly different, so the doctor must do different things for different people, even if the symptoms seem to be the same. The causes of illnesses are different, so different applications are used.

THE FIVE ELEMENT LIST

 

WATER

WOOD

FIRE

EARTH

METAL

YIN Organs

KIDNEY

LIVER

HEART/MIND

SPLEEN

LUNG

Numbers

6

8

2

10

4

YANG Organs

URINARY BLADDER

GALL BLADDER

SMALL INTESTINES

STOMACH

LARGE INTESTINES

Numbers

1

3

7

5

9

Direction

NORTH

EAST

SOUTH

CENTER

WEST

Emotion

FEAR

ANGER

EXCESSIVE JOY

ANXIOUS

SAD

Sound

MOANING

SHOUT

LAUGHTER

SINGING

CRYING

Season

WINTER

SPRING

SUMMER

LATE SUMMER

AUTUMN

Temperature

COLD

WINDY

HEAT

DAMP

DRY

Taste

SALTY

SOUR

BITTER

SWEET

PUNGENT

Smell

ROTTEN

URINE

SCORCHED

FRAGRANT

FISHY

Spirit

WILL (ZHI)

SOUL (HUN)

SPIRIT (SHEN)

LOGIC (YI)

COURAGE
( PO)

Body Part

BONES/ MARROW

TENDON/ LIGAMENT

BLOOD VESSELS

MUSCLE/ FLESH

SKIN/ HAIR

Planet

MERCURY

JUPITER

MARS

SATURN

VENUS

Color

BLACK

BLUE-GREEN

RED

YELLOW

WHITE

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MERIDIANS/CHANNELS

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.

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Dan Tian

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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