The concept of the Five Elements is as important as Yin and Yang in Chinese culture, especially in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The five tangible elements are: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Our ten internal organs are related to these five elements, and their correspondences are as follows:
The five elements have two basic interactions: generating and restraining. The generating interaction is helpful or causes something to happen. For example, metal is produced from a mine inside the earth; thus, the earth generates metal. The restraining interaction is holding back or restricting. For example, water can be held by an earth-made dam. Thus, earth restrains water.
Generating and restraining interactions cannot be separated. We can see that inside the generating circle is the restraining pentacle, and inside the restraining circle is the generating pentacle.
If we look at the generating interaction as Yang and the restraining interaction as Yin, then we can see inside of Yin is Yang and inside of Yang is Yin. The interactions of all things in nature are mutually generating and restraining, and Yin and Yang need to be balanced.
The internal organs are related to five elements, and they also have generating and restraining interactions. For example, when the liver is functioning well, the heart will work well; when the heart functions well, the spleen will work well, so on and so forth. All internal organs are interdependent. Health conditions are not only affected by exercise but also by sleep, food, and our mood. For example, if one doesn’t eat well or is always worried too much, which will affect the spleen’s function, then all the internal organs will be affected.
The spleen and stomach, which are related to the earth element, are considered in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as the foundation of one’s acquired health. We can nourish our health by balancing our diet as well as practicing Qigong Eight Brocades, which is beneficial for the spleen and stomach. The third movement of the Eight Brocades is “Lift one arm to tone the spleen and stomach.” In this movement, we raise one arm and push up through the palm heel; we put the other hand by the side of the hip and press down also through the palm heel. By pushing and pressing the palm heels, we create the internal force between the two diagonal hands. These internal forces help to tone the spleen and stomach inside. The outside movement is simple—just an alternative arm up and down. However, by creating internal force, we will receive the desired result.
Qigong needs to be considered as an internal art, and practicing it requires our full attention and should be repeated a number of times. Cultivate the internal work while moving in the simple movement, and we can let the vital energy (Qi) flow smoothly in our body. The harmonious interaction of Yin and Yang, and the harmonious interaction of ten internal organs form our healthy, holistic body.
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