The 5 elements theory relates to almost anything in Chinese culture. For example; acupressure, acupuncture, The practice of Bah Gua, Tai Chi and The Daoist Chinese philosophy to name a few.
The 5 elements can also be looked at as the 5 phases or the 5 cycles.
Another way of calling them is the Creation cycle.
One gives into the other. They are used to describe relationships between everything that happens around us and within our bodies.
There are 4 cycles that are interwoven within the Creation cycle:
The Generating and Controlling cycles represent balance and harmony. The Overacting and Insulting cycles then represent Imbalance and Disharmony.
The Generating cycle is also called the Sheng cycle. It is associated with the nourishment and support that a child receives from the mother.
- Rain nourishes the tree so they grow
- Ash from the fire that burned from the wood goes back into the earth
- Water condenses on a metal surface and as such metal creates water
- The Control cycle is also called the Ke cycle (The destruction cycle)
The Control cycle is also called the Ke cycle (The destruction cycle)
In this part of the cycle one element prevents another element from overpowering the other. An image could be like the strict grandmother who doesn’t allow her grandchild to do whatever s/he wants. This is called tough love. It is the ‘checks and balances’ cycle.
- The water extinguishes the fire
- The metal chops the wood
- The earth dams the water
These two cycles together represent balance and a healthy version of the 5 elements.
But it doesn’t end here.
There is also the Overacting cycle also known as the Cheng cycle
This is when there is an imbalance within the Control cycle. If the Grandmother element gets too controlling where she damages the grandchild element rather than beneficially controlling.
The Insulting cycle also known as the Wu cycle
Is another unbalanced control cycle where the grandchild element turns the grandmother elements control back upon itself and as such ‘insults’ the grandmothers attempt to control the grandchild element.
A good example of this would be when the earth along the river bank that channels the river is washed away by the river. The attempt of the earth to control the river is defied by the water overpowering the earth and washing it away.
The Overacting and Insulting cycles are the imbalanced and disharmonious cycles of the 5 elements system.
Our goal in the 5 element philosophy is to use these last two cycles to help diagnose problems so as to heal them and bring back harmony through acupuncture, Qigong or other healing methods.
There is always an elemental dance of creation and destruction but the goal is to always find balance and harmony between the two.