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Traditional Chinese Medicine

Be Who You Are

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarth Element – Spleen, Stomach, muscles, Color -Yellow

The Earth Element represents our center or home base. Instinctively we are always trying to find our way home. Our home is where we center, gather energy, and rejuvenate. A strong Earth element allows us to unfold our life from within outward.

The Earth element is in charge of nourishment. The organs corresponding to Earth are the Spleen and Stomach. They are the nucleus of all the internal organs and their function is essential to health. The Spleen-Stomach act as a pivot in the digestion process. When we eat and drink, the Spleen transforms the food and water to Qi-vital energy. If this function is faulty, instead of pure Qi, the food and water will be retained as dampness-mucus. Since the next step in the process is to send the pure Qi to the lung, instead of Qi, mucus is transported. The lung will then retain the mucus, and or dump it to the sinus. If the Spleen is strong, food and water are converted properly, pure Qi is produced, and we will have abundant energy. If weak, we will have physical and mental fatigue.

How do we physically strengthen our Earth element?  The Spleen is strengthened by moderately eating good quality foods with a sweet taste.  The best form of sweets are whole grains like brown rice, and yellow-orange vegetables like butternut squash. Since they are grown deep within the earth, root vegetables are also excellent. The worst sweets are white sugar, artificial sugar, and corn syrup. Acupuncture is the best direct therapy for the Spleen-Stomach.

Since the Earth element represents the center, it has a strong stabilizing, grounding effect on the mind-body.  In the fast pace world in which we live, it is very easy for our mind to run rapid and out of control. Worry and obsessive thoughts are an example of a mind that has no root. How do we root the mind? Nature walks ground the mind-body. Tai Chi is the best exercise for strengthening and connecting to the earth energy.  The entire exercise is based on physical and mental rooting and structural alignment with the earth.

The main virtue of the Earth element is humbleness. The earth is humble and we often hear the term “down to earth.” It is not easy to be humble. Humble is not glamorous or sexy. Living in big cities where inflated ego is the norm, being humble is often viewed as a sign of weakness. Actually the opposite is true. It takes courage to lower the ego. As we get older and wiser, we understand that by being real, you will attract the right personal and professional people in your life.There is no reason to put on a big front. Since the  Earth element has a receptive energy, abundance in the form of love and respect will radiate to you once you just Be Who You Are.


Willow Tree in the Breeze


Wood Element : Liver, Gallbladder,  eyes, tendons, nerves, green, Spring.

The Liver Qi represents freedom. Like a willow tree in the breeze, the Liver keeps us cool, calm, collected, flexible, and free. We move gracefully through life. This unrestricted, free flow of Qi makes us feel kind, happy and content.

The liver governs the eyes and vision. Not just the physical vision, but the vision of where your life is going. When the liver Qi is strong we are able to plan and have goals. Why is this so?  The liver Qi governs growth. Like a tree, the liver Qi has an upward and outward movement, and at the same time sends roots deep into the earth. Our vision and plans follow a similar process. We plant the seed (idea), and then send roots down to build a foundation for our plan, and then soar up and out with enthusiasm and pure will to implement and ultimately fulfill the plan. When this growth process is blocked, we feel lost and move aimlessly through life.

Like an army general, the Liver directs the free flow of Qi  throughout the entire body. Since the blood follows the Qi, this will increase blood circulation, nourish the tendons, joints, muscles, and nervous system. This nourishment not only helps us stay physically flexible, but increases flexibility and openness of the mind.

How do we strengthen and get in touch with our Wood Element?

Like a tree – keep your upper body soft, flexible and yielding, while your legs and feet are rooted firmly to the earth.
Eat greens and sour tasting foods, cut down on the overuse of the eyes, and most importantly, have a Plan.

Iron Shirt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMetal Element –  Lungs, Large Intestine, Skin, Sinus, Autumn, color-white.

During the Autumn season, the energy within nature and the body begins the downward movement leading into Winter when the energy is at its deepest. Like a metal shield, the energy will contract, condense, and have great strength.   The Autumn season is governed by the lungs. This is a good time of year to strengthen the breathing capacity with internal exercises like meditation, Chi Kung, Yoga, and Tai Chi, as well as external exercises like running, biking and swimming. The lungs are paired with the large intestine, so it is also a good time to clear mental and physical clutter and let go of unnecessary stuff.

Like an iron shirt, the lung Qi forms a tight superficial energy network throughout the entire physical structure. It communicates with the skin and governs the opening and closing of the pores. In Chinese medicine this mechanism is called Wei Qi,  When the Wei Qi is strong, the body is able to eliminate viruses very efficiently by the pores opening so we sweat.  When the Wei Qi is deficient, the virus will go deeper into the lungs and cause problems like cough. This tight matrix will also make us less susceptible to air borne allergens like dust, mold, and pollen.

The virtues of the lungs are physical, moral courage and fortitude.  As we quiet down and breathe rhythmically, we tap into the primordial universal breath, and this identification gives us courage and fortitude. When we breath shallow, we feel anxious, deflated and weak.

In daily life, we tend to take our lungs for granted. Even though government regulation helps air pollution, particles in the air still cause a weakening of the lung Qi as well as the Wei Qi. This will lead to more allergies and catching colds. It is important to take a hard look at the environment where you live and evaluate the air quality, Smoking is another serious problem. Our lungs have enough of an ordeal with pollution, so adding smoke to the mix is not very wise.

The kaleidoscope of color bursting during Fall foliage gives us insight to the power of the Metal element. The strong yang colors of yellow, orange, and red make us want to get outdoors, rejoice, and play.  At the same time, we consolidate our thoughts and action, and move forward courageously with our goals and plans.


Turn up the quiet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWater Element – blue, deep, yielding but very powerful.

Serene, still, gentile, like a mountain lake, this is the Yin virtue of the kidney Qi. From the deep stillness of the kidney yin, yang arises, producing the yang virtues of perseverance, will-power, motivation, and strong sense of purpose.

The season that corresponds to the Water Element – kidneys is winter. During the winter season there is a deep sense of quiet, and the energy in nature as well as the physical body runs deep. The energy of the Kidney is very deep and if you compared the body to a tree, the kidneys are the root. When the root is strong the physical structure is robust. The root also has a universal aspect.  It means the connection we have to the earth, humanity, family etc. When we lose this connection, the negative emotion of fear takes hold.

The kidney Qi nourishes the ears and the sense of hearing. The sounds of nature -birds singing, running streams, the ocean etc,  nourish and strengthens the kidney Qi.  The constant bombardment of loud noise disturbs the kidney Qi.

It is essential to find the time to turn the senses inward, center and feel the inner stillness. This will nourish your root.  The yin practices of reading, meditation, contemplating, and relaxing in nature, are the best ways of not only increasing the energy level in the body, but general peace of mind. This is the perfect balance for the yang activities like working out, dancing, running, etc. With the fast pace of modern living, mind- body exercises like Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates are very popular because they have a yin-mind contemplative aspect, while at the same time strengthen powerfully on the yang physical level.

Get in touch with your inner mountain lake.

Turn up the quiet, your soul wants to dance.


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