The Five Phases, better known as the Five Elements, are facets of Chi. They are Water, Metal, Earth, Fire, and Wood. In the elegant language of the Five Phases, health is a balance of harmony of all the phases/elements and the Chi of these phases/elements ebbs and tides in daily and seasonal periods. Each individual is a characteristic and unique combination of the influences of all the elements.
Meridians: Bladder, Kidneys
The energy of Water is generative and strong and is centered in the lower stomach. When the Chi of the Kidney is strong in a person, this person is determined, fearless, and can endure lots of tribulation in pursuit of his objective. A trait of people with strong Chi Kidney is persevering by will power. Also considered to be related to healthy Kidney Chi is Longevity, which is represented by ear lobes that are elongated and large, like the ear lobes of the Buddha.
A weak Kidney Chi means the person has problems with sexuality, fertility, urination, or water metabolism. This individual may be withdrawn, fearful, and anxious, and even phobic, in more extreme cases.
With aging comes the decline of Kidney Chi. A weak Kidney Chi would likely result in ringing in the ears or diminished hearing. The Kidney yin declines in menopause, which is related to the classic signs of dryness and heat – mucous membranes, dry skin, night sweats, and hot flashes. Deficient Kidney yang is related to cold – incontinence, urinary frequency, declining sexual vigor, cold stomach and back, and cold extremities.
The Kidney’s color is black, like black ice or like the night. When the Chi of the Kidney begins to abate, dark pouches or circles develop under the eyes. The Kidney Chi is dominant in the winter, which is the season when living things are contracted with cold. Chi lies dormant, as a seed lying deep in the cold ground waiting for the time to sprout.
Meridians: Large Intestines/Lungs
An individual is conscientious, self disciplined, and well organized when his Metal energy is well-balanced. Such a person loves structure in his life. He is most comfortable in situations in which he knows he can succeed by following the rules simply because he knows them. Like ore mined from the mountains, Metal Chi imparts to a person a profound inner strength.
A person can be steeped in sadness and may be grief-stricken if his Metal Chi is imbalance. These people can be overly critical and may have difficulties letting go. A weak Metal energy can lead to problems in the lungs – frequent colds, allergies, and asthma. The skin is governed by the Lung meridian, and so problems with sweating, eczema, and rashes can be associated with Metal imbalance. The meridian of the Large Intestine can be affected by bowel diseases such as diarrhea or chronic constipation.
The fall is the season when the Metal energy peaks. In autumn’s clean, crisp and cool air, a metal person may feel he can accomplish anything. Metal’s color is white, and people strongly affected by the Metal Chi may possess pale complexions.
A person is compassionate, nurturing, and well grounded if his Earth energy is well developed. This person is sometimes seen as the archetypical “earth mother”. An Earth energy person makes for a good peacemaker or mediator as well as a reliable friend. He likes to bring others together. People with well developed Earth energy usually enjoy both eating food and preparing them. Others may be attracted by their sensuous, full lips and generous mouth.
People can be meddlers and worriers when they have weak Earth Chi. They may be susceptible to pensiveness. They may work too much, especially in intellectual work like studying. They are susceptible to diarrhea and other digestive problems. They may have difficulty losing weight that they have gained easily. They may have bodies that tend to produce excessive mucus, and may have problems such as lack of clarity, muzzy-headedness, and cloudy thinking.
People whose Earth Chi is weak usually feel better when they minimize their intake of dairy products, raw foods, and cold foods. To stay well grounded, they need to eat grains and warming foods. They tend to desire sweets. This sweet craving can be addressed by eating fruits, vegetables, sweet grains, instead of processed sugars.
Common health problems include canker sores, heartburn, eating disorders, food sensitivities & allergies, bloating & gas, diarrhea, and fatigue. The sinuses or lungs may be affected by excessive mucus. Menstrual problems in women may include either excessively heavy or light periods.
The element of Earth Chi thrives in Indian Summer. This is the time when the golden moments of fullness arise just prior to the waning of the light. Like the root vegetables, ripened crops, and the sun, yellow is the color of earth. To reinforce the earth element, sitting meditation is recommended.
Meridians: Triple Warmer, Pericardium, Small Intestines, Heart
A person with strong Fire energy is likely to be very charismatic. This person may be very good at commanding others to action. They may love socializing and talking.
A person may be bland or lackluster when his Fire Chi is weak. He may suffer from insomnia, restlessness, and anxiety. These people may laugh nervously, talk too rapidly or too much, and stutter. They may be unfeeling and emotionally cold, easily stimulated to excesses, or too excitable.
Common conditions include sores on the tongue and mouth, heart problems, hypertension, and palpitations. People very much influenced by Fire imbalance may be weak in extremely hot weather, and may be centered and calmed by walking. The Fire Chi relates to bitter flavor. One bitter food is coffee, but the effects of this beverage may aggravate the Chi of the Heart. Some healthy bitter flavors include leafy green dark vegetables.
A person with powerful Wood element energy enjoys clear goals and vision and knows how to bring them about. He excels at decision making and planning, can strongly argue his opinions, and be forceful in disagreements as well. This person can have attractive penetrating and piercing eyes; however, you need to avoid this person’s wrath.
A person with weak wood Chi can be weak, stuck in life, without strong direction, and indecisive. He may be unable to express anger and be emotionally constrained. People with stagnant or obstructed Liver Chi tend to have angry dispositions and are over controlling and arrogant. They are likely to have addictive traits including the possibility of abusing alcohol and drugs and have a tendency to be workaholics. They may suffer from alternative diarrhea and constipation, gas, bloating, and other digestive problems.
Spicy and hot flavors may lead to too much heat when Liver Chi is imbalanced. Bitter and Sour flavors may be good for the Liver meridian. When the Liver meridian is out of balance, excessive irritation and frustration can be quite difficult to control. Reading and physical exercise can help bring back balance. Like extremely hot weather and the winds of March, the autumn season is likely to be a vulnerable time.
Typical symptoms and signs of a stressed Liver meridian include sinus problems, eye problems, migraines, pain just under the ribs, and thickened brittle dry nails. The Liver meridian surrounds the genitals. Discharges and rashes as well as hernias are related to its imbalance. Common menstrual problems that may arise in women include heavy bleeding, painful menses and PMS. An imbalance of the Liver meridian may also be associated with the appearance of uterine fibroids. The meridian channels of the Gallbladder and Liver systems traverse the sides and top of the head, which is where migraine headaches are commonly felt.
The Wood element’s Chi thrives in the spring where green is this element’s color of and when plants are sprouting new growth.
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