In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the law of the Five elements is based upon the cosmic cycle of birth, growth, harvest, death and renewal which has been an important aspect of human experience for millennia. This law describes the ongoing, repetitive cycle and how they mutually create and destroy each other in an endless dance.
In the creative cycle with ki (chi as in Tai chi) moving clockwise, water nourishes wood, wood feeds fire, burned wood turns to ash and creates earth and earth then disintegrates into the minerals of metal. On the left side from water to fire, the ki is upwards, ordered, expansive and potent (Yang). As the cycle moves around, the energies run down and become more inward and still (Yin) in preparation to move upwards again.
The control cycle, with the ki moving in a clockwise direction on the lines of the inner pentacle is when the creative aspect of the cycle becomes limited. Water controls fire, fire melts metal, metal cuts wood, wood contains earth and earth limits and controls water. The two cycles work together as without the control cycle the creative cycle would over produce and without the creative cycle the control cycle would endlessly limit production or creativity and the cosmos would dwindle to nothingness.
Each of the five phases corresponds to a particular natural element - water, wood, fire, earth and metal and each of these elements have their own strengths and qualities in nature that can be cultivated in us as human beings. For example, to flow through life like water, to be as flexible as the trunk and branches of a young tree (wood), to ascend like a glowing flickering fire, to be as grounded as the earth and be as defined as metal.
Along with the overall 'feel' of an element each one has it's own characteristics and associations which can point you in the direction of that element. Everything from color, the seasons, taste, time of the day, emotions and physical condition can offer an insight into the expression of the unconscious psyche. For example if you are consistently drawn to the color yellow it could suggest an imbalance in your earth energy. A voice that 'shouts' even though it is not loud would draw you towards wood energy. A salty diet would lead you towards a water imbalance and persistent ulcers on your tongue would suggest a need to look at your fire energy.
I find that whilst giving Shiatsu images and sensations may arise that can show me which element is 'around' at that time and for me these 'clues' guide me towards the necessary quality of touch that enables healing to begin at an unconscious level. The sense of fear may be wanting an earthy reassuring touch whereas anger might be needing the focused directness of metal. By listening to your bodies wants and needs with the right touch and intention, Shiatsu can awaken and rekindle these energies.
I love cycling, it's the combination of freedom, forward movement, exercising my body, being out in nature, fresh air and sun (sometimes). So when I was out cycling on Sunday I realized I was in my element ....the Wood Element.
In the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) cycle of elements, Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal, the wood element can be characterized by the season of Spring. It's the awakening energy, new plans, new possibilities, new growth and energy....that splurge forward to fulfill your mission with renewed vigor. Nature shows us how it's done at this time of year, everywhere you look trees, plants, the earth in fact is bursting into life, Creativity abounds....roots firmly grounded in the earth whilst branches, leaves and flowers reach up to the skies, the wood energy doing what it was made for....rising, expanding a force for flexibility and growth.
Wind is associated with the wood element and there was plenty of that around on Sunday as I forged my way at what felt like 50mph (probably more like 13!) around my decided route. The wind is clearing and brings about quick change and after the long dark days of winter, being out in the sun and wind peddling like crazy I could feel the stagnation of the last few months dispersing. Helped along by my occasional whoop of joy and laughter as I conquered another hill!
Unsurprisingly the colour green is connected to the wood element, so too is a strong, loud voice (lots of that on my bike ride) it enables us to be heard, draw attention to what we have to say and what we want. Eyes are the sense organ for wood, allowing us to see the scope of the situation before us in order to choose a direction, a clear way forward. Community and peaceful coexistence are characteristics of a balanced wood energy as are being organised, proactive, motivated, decisive, flexible and cooperative.
If our wood energy is not flowing freely we can encounter feelings of being 'stuck', we lack vision, have difficulty making decisions or taking action. This can lead to tension and inflexibility both physically and emotionally, headaches or migraines can manifest. Conflicts can arise along with frustration, anger and rage. Anger can be very liberating but it can also be held as resentment and bitterness, this can block our movement and vision.
So it could've been a completely different story on Sunday had I not been in my element. The wind would have well and truly cheesed me off, plenty of shouting of a different nature would have ensued. I probably wouldn't have decided which route to take and ended up half heatedly poodling along, if fact I probably wouldn't have gone out at all!
Hooray for the Wood Energy .....Welcome Back !!