The energy flows around your body via the acupuncture meridians and has been studied for thousands of years. The Yellow Emperor of China was accredited with the first collection of works around 2600BC although there is evidence of acupuncture being used even earlier in India and Sri Lanka. Now there are many different therapies using this knowledge either directly or indirectly such as shiatsu and kinesiology.
In many therapies knowledge of the meridian system can really be helpful. If you know how each meridian relates to the organs and their associated characteristics it may greatly enhance the effectiveness of your treatment. It will also help you understand the inter-relatedness of symptoms so that you can make a holistic diagnosis.
The idea of the continual flow of energy as expressed in the yin / yang cycle can also be observed in the five elements that are the foundation of our world. These five elements are often depicted on a five pointed star and consist of wood, fire, earth, metal or air and water, and like the yin/yang symbol, they are also expressed as a continual clockwise circle of energy.
Shen is the Chinese term for the creative energy and the shen cycle depends on each element feeding and supporting the next on the star. There is no fixed starting point but for convenience, we will begin with the wood element and the cycle can be explained as follows -
- As all good scouts know, rubbing two pieces of wood together creates fire, the next element in the sequence.
- Fire burns and leaves an ash, which makes our soil, the earth element.
- From the earth we mine metals.
- Metal or air when heated and cooled, produces water vapour.
- Water is needed to feed the trees to make the wood
And so the cycle continues each element feeding the next one. Health relies on this creative cycle flowing freely. If it becomes blocked an imbalance is created and ailments start developing.
The five elements are associated with each of the major organs of the body along with their related emotions, colours, seasons and so on. Studying these groups and their associations will help you to understand more fully what is going on in your body, both physically and emotionally.
There is one yin and one yang organ associated with each element and these two organs work together, like a perfect couple, supporting and complementing each other.
The yin organs are considered to be the deeper nurturing organs of the body storing the blood, air, lymph and glucose before being circulated around the body. This can be likened to the yin of winter, storing nature's nutrients ready for growth.
The yang organs come to the surface of the body and are considered to be the active draining, organs. They allow nutrients to be metabolised and toxins to be excreted. This can be likened to the yang of summer, spreading nature's abundant fruits.