Five Element Qigong is an extension of the five element theory of Chinese Medicine, culture and philosophy. Although it is called five elements, it is really five phases, and even 5 archetypes. How the phases interact and their archetypal relationship with each other and each person is important in my process of diagnosing the origin of pain points and how to resolve them.
Five Element Qigong Theory
In Five Element Qigong, the elements or phases are named: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each of these elements incorporates an organ system, Each system has two organs and a meridian network The meridians are like connecting and delivery channels, As I refer to the organs, they have the same names of physical organs, and they articulate with the physical organs, but they are in fact energetic and should not be confused with the physical organs with the same name. In Qigong, there is an energy body that interacts and animates the physical body, but it is not the physical body.
In the illustrations on the left, each element is depicted with a colored ball. The thick arrows show a relationship. The arrow comes from the nurturer, like a parent, to the child. So Water nurtures Wood, Wood nurtures Fire, and so on around the circle. The thin arrows depict control. It’s a little like a grandparent. Water controls Fire, Wood controls Earth and so on around the circle. These relationships are a valuable tool for me when figuring out the source of chronic pain or imbalance.
The Wood Element’s season is Spring. The organ system is the Liver/Gallbladder.
The predominant wood attributes (when in balance) are strength flexibility and courage. Think of bamboo, strong, yet flexible, pervasive yet adaptable. Imbalanced, the Wood Element will show the body in stress, with inflammation and rigidity. The imbalanced emotions that becomes stagnant and destructive in the Liver are anger, irritation and annoyance. While the constructive emotions are courage and confidence.
Wood Element Qigong ~ Stand with legs shoulder width apart. Visualize roots extending from heels and balls of feet, twice as deep as you are tall. – Raise the arms up and imagine your body is the trunk of a strong tree, your legs the roots set deeply into the earth, and your arms the branches – A wind begins to blow, first from the left, as you inhale, then right, as you exhale. As the wind blows, your branches go with the wind, not resisting. They bend and sway but never break – your trunk sways slightly with the wind following the movement of your (arms) branches. This teaches our body to be supple, flexible and mobile in the face of daily challenges. Using deep breaths, along with the gentle movements and visualizations, help to dissipate stress, the most common cause of Wood Element imbalance. Check out another wood element exercise on my YouTube channel.
The Fire Element’s season is Summer. The organ system is the Heart/Small Intestine.
Fire is active in it is character, The energy of the Fire Element is expansive. Fire is associated with the qualities of exuberance and persistence; it is also connected to restlessness. Warmth and creativity are also attributes, although, in excess, impatience and impulsive behavior will dominate. When you are true to yourself, this element nurtures the joy and laughter associated with playfulness. The destructive emotion, that becomes stagnant and uncomfortable is anxiety. In balance, the Fire Element likely reveals the prevailing constructive emotion of joy.
Fire Element Qigong – Stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart – Lift the toes of the left foot and rotate on the heel 90 degrees to the left. Bending the left knee into warrior 2 legs, with the right leg straight behind you – raise your right arm parallel to the ground with a bent elbow as if to block someone is trying to hit you – extend the heel of your right palm under your left forearm as if you were going to strike the same opponent in the chin – Yet, rather than a fighting pose, imagine your forearm and palm absorbing brilliant red light like solar collectors, shunting the light through the chest and torso into the back leg – rotate back on the left heel to the original stance and repeat the same process on the right side – inhaling when rotating to the left and exhaling when rotating to the right – repeat the whole round nine times with long deep breaths. This exercise cultivates healthy heart energy while dissipating the stagnation that can cause anxiety. See this Fire Element Exercise on my YouTube channel.
The Earth Element’s season is Summer. The organ system is the Spleen/Pancreas/Stomach. The Earth’s archetype is like a Grand Matriarch, drawing all beings together with itself, in order to bring harmony, the sense of feeling grounded and stability. That steadfastness, stability and a feeling of trust in life’s process is the essence of a balanced Earth Element. Worry, and the mind throwing it is energy and thoughts into the future brings instability, dizziness and an upset stomach when Earth is out of balance. So worry is the stagnant destructive emotion and harmony and trustworthiness are the balanced constructive emotions.
Earth Element Qigong – Make a triangle with thumbs and index fingers and hold it above and away from your forehead with the arms extending the triangle about 18 inches in front of you. Visualize golden sunlight coming through it and into the third eye, between your eyes and brow height, as you slowly twist your upper torso to the left. Simultaneously draw golden Light up the inner aspect of the right leg. Repeat, twisting slowly to the right as you exhale, continue seeing the sunlight coming into the third eye through the triangle and drawing golden Light up your left leg. Repeat nine times. As you move back and forth, with long deep breaths pacing your movement, think of the sun, rising and setting, as it comes across the horizon with your movement. Feet rooted deep into the earth, there is nothing to worry about as you trust that the sun will continue to rise and set every day. This exercise cultivates harmony and a healthy immune system, while dissipating worry and distrust in life’s process. Check this Earth Element Exercise out on my YouTube channel.