I am impressed by how so many, if not all areas of our lives are influenced by the 5-Elements; whether it be seasons of the year, cooking food, making medicine, breathing techniques or making day-to-day objects/ crafts that we use in our lives. There are traditions all around East-Asia (i.e. China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea) where the 5-Element philosophy is part of normal, daily life. As I contemplate the element that we are experiencing at the moment, the Metal element, I can't help being reminded of the skilled Bladesmith, one who works with Metal to create tools/ weapons. The Japanese are famous for making the best knives and swords in the world. The Katana, the Japanese long sword, is most celebrated for its artistry as well as its sharpness and ferocity. It is a blade so fine and flexible but so resilient, in the hands of a skilled swordsman (or woman), you would be unaware of its cut until it is done. You can tell how many martial arts movies I have watched growing up in Asia. What fascinates me most is not the end product, the sword, itself but the process in which it is made; how the 5-Elements are present in the process to transform raw Metal into a tool, an art form. The Metal is put into Fire to be smelted, then comes the process of the forging, which involves more Fire, Water, Earth and of course to begin with there was Wood for Fire. In the process to create this tool, the 5 Elements were going through the generating and controlling cycles, all in movement towards a creation and transformation guided by the human hand/ mind.
I feel this often when I practice Qi Gong, Tai Ji Quan or Yoga. I sense the Elements in me, helping me transform my body, my mind, my being to connect/reconnect within and without. What then manifests outwardly is simply a product of the process, there is no product without the process. So if I perform a headstand, it is a coming together of the elements within and around me to find an inward balance, which then manifest as me balancing on my head in the physical realm.
Another of the Breath practice that I have gathered on my journey is the 5-Element Breath Sounds. It is a practice that involves the exhalation as a sound. Many of us make sounds quite instinctively, in the form of a sigh or a groan. This practice is a conscious manifestation of Breath to balance the organs and elements. Practice the sounds like it is listed from above to below, as this is the generation cycle. You may notice that the Fire element comes twice. There are reasons for this that I won't get into in this post. Do try the breath sounds and sense how they affect you!
5-Element Breath Sounds
Organ Triple Burner
Image Smith by Dirk Hoenes from Pixabay
Image 5-Element Sheng Cycle by Elaine