Five Elements of Maintaining Wellness

In Chinese, luck and fate is Yun Qi. The word Yun Qi is actually the short form for Five Motions (Yun) and Six Qi (五運六氣), a doctrine from TCM. It tells us the relationship between human wellness and nature.

Proper Rest: Harmonize with Nature

If we lived 2,000 years ago, it might be easier for us to understand TCM. Obviously at that time, nature had a strong impact on human beings. Living conditions and health conditions were all directly related to nature. In turn, humans had a broader and deeper connection with nature and were more sensitive to the changes of the natural environment, thus understanding the influence of nature differently than we do today.

To maintain wellness, the fundamental concept from TCM is: human beings are part of the whole universe and are always interacting. We need to know the laws of nature and harmonize with nature. 

Everyday, when the sun rises at dawn, we start to see the light and gradually feel the warmth. During the day, the sun, the source of life, is dominant and we work; and at dusk, the sun goes down and becomes invisible and we rest. The change of pattern is clear, we just need to go with it! Slow down after dusk and sleep well at night.

Maintaining wellness element 1: Proper rest, harmonize with nature. Sleep no later than 11pm, especially in winter.

Balancing Diet: Balance Five Elements

The Chinese Five elements are: wood, fire, earth, metal and water, they are elements that can be seen with our eyes. The Five elements are always interacting. For example, sun (fire element) warms up the earth, from earth plants (wood element) grow. Water  moisturizes earth and metal comes out from rock (earth element). Similarly, different parts of the body associate with the Five elements and always influence each other.

Food is the foundation of wellness. Different colours and different tastes balance the Five elements and help balance functions of the body. This brings not only physical but emotional wellness.

Maintaining wellness element 2: Balancing diet. Eat a variety of food. 

Regular Exercise, Retain Vitality

Five Motions are changes on the Earth as time changes: wood motion, fire motion, earth motion, metal motion and water motion. We can see the change.

Six Qi are the factors that can cause the change of atmosphere (Qi): wind, summer-heat, dampness, dryness, cold and fire. We can sense the change.

In China, when the wind direction changes from north to south-east, weather is getting warmer and indicates spring is coming. Every year, we see the rhythmic change of nature.

Because it is impossible to eliminate all the pathogens, instead of eliminating pathogens to prevent diseases, TCM focuses on how to improve and balance body function. So Daoyin, a form of dance-like physical exercise that predates Qigong, is a suggested practice in TCM for those who eat various kinds of food and do not need to do much work to let the energy (Qi) flow.

Keep in mind exercising is not just vigorous movement that consumes energy, our body also needs quiet nurturing to retain vitality. To balance the Five motions, exercise should include motions like relaxation, meditation and breathing exercise, to coordinate our body’s needs.

Enjoy the Breathing Exercise

Maintaining wellness element 3: Regular exercise, retain vitality.

Cultivate Virtues, Be in Awe of Nature

Each year, the routine change of nature is the same. However, in a longer time period, we will see irregularities of climates. For example, summer this year might be much hotter than last year, or the amount of snow in one year is much more than usual. To understand the rhythmic change of nature on a large-scale, ancient Chinese observed the “moving stars”, the five planets that can be seen with the naked eye. These planets appear to move against the background of stars, and some take longer to complete a cycle around the sun. For example, Jupiter takes around 12 years and Saturn takes around 29 years.

The motion of planets can indicate the change of time and cosmic energy flow in space, which was believed to be one of the causes of abnormal climate. The concept of Five Motion (Yun) was applied to present a 5-year change of time. Accordingly, Six Qi was applied to present a 6-year charge of cosmic energy flow. Together, Yun Qi influences our life and it has a 30-year cycle.

Nowadays, with highly developed technology, we either do not notice or do not care about the influence of nature. Human activities have such a strong impact on nature and have even become the main cause of climate change, and we see more extreme weather. Our actions cause suffering for not only ourselves but all beings on Earth. 

Climate change or Yun Qi, convey the same message: human beings and the universe are affecting each other and form an organic whole. Yun Qi reminds us to maintain wellness through a holistic view and live in awe of nature. 

A Chinese proverb says,

Good deeds might not bring good luck, but misfortune is gone; an evil act might not bring disaster, but fortune is gone.”

Our motions, our deeds not only affect the climate in an unnoticed way, but also subtly affect our mental and spiritual wellness. So, integrating virtue (德) cultivation is a part of maintaining wellness. There are five virtues that are associated with the Five elements.

Wood virtueFire virtueEarth virtueMetal virtueWater virtue
KindPoliteReliable Righteous Intelligent

Technology cannot solve problems of ignorance. Neglecting cause and effect and thinking about only human convenience and enjoyment can bring extreme weather, natural disasters and extreme weather causing not only disease but even threatens our lives. Yun Qi takes 30 years to complete one cycle. It takes time to see the effect of our activities.

The first step in cultivating virtue is to be kind to the environment, it’s the foundation of our life. Hope the generations to come don’t have to worry about the future of Earth and the fate (Yun Qi) of human beings because of our short-sightedness.

Everything is interconnected. We are the ones that take responsibility for our own well-being. Virtues can guard us with complete wellness for a long time.

Maintaining wellness element 4: Cultivate virtues, be in awe of nature and look beyond physical wellness.

Enjoy the Time, Connect with Nature

To enjoy the time, we need to know about time. Not the time from a clock or number from a device, but the actual time.

As the sun rises and descends, time passes day after day; as nature changes from wood-motion to water-motion, time passes year after year. As time passes, we age. Time is present in motion and governs our life. Motion (Yun) is about change, the change of time, the change in space. The secret of happiness lies in finding the stillness of time.

We know that when two objects are moving at the same speed, they are relatively still. For example, now, we know the Earth is rotating all the time, but we don’t feel the motion because we are moving together with Earth at the same speed constantly. It’s possible to find stillness in motion. Time is always with us, we just need to synergize our mind to the time. Be with the moment, be present. Enjoy the stillness motion, enjoy the motionlessness of time. 

No matter what changes, one thing hasn’t changed: we live on Earth. Being the residents of the Earth, through the atmosphere (Qi), through breath (Qi), we exchange energy (Qi) with nature. Nature stores rejuvenating and healing energy. We should spend time watching the flow of clouds, listening to the birds singing, smelling the fragrance from flowers and feeling the breeze on our faces. Flowing with the ultimate omnipresent Qi – Yun Qi leads to wellbeing.

Maintaining wellness element 5: Enjoy the time, connect with nature.

Being well is the greatest luck (Yun Qi). May we all have good luck.

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