Tai Chi Ch'uan Inner Practices
Embodying the Five Elements
Donald and Cheryl Lynne Rubbo
The three primary internal martial arts systems of China, Hsing
Yi, Bagua and Tai Chi Ch’uan, are based on the fundamentals of Taoism, and as such they incorporate all of the principles of Taoism, including the Eight Directions and the Five Elements.
The following describes how to deepen your practice, and intensify your insight into the more subtle aspects of the internals. In the ancient texts, Tai Chi Ch’uan was referred to as ‘the Thirteen Movements,’ or ‘the Thirteen Forms.’From our years of research and practice, we found the truth of this corresponds to the Five Elements and the Eight Directions, and not
necessarily to a series of thirteen postures. This is lost wisdom that we are now revealing, to show how to connect more deeply to Universal energies. One of the benefits of this particular practice is that the more time you devote to embodying the Five Elements, the more that deeper aspects are revealed to you by the Universe.
We have been teaching this important component of Qigong and Tai Chi Ch’uan to our students successfully for many years in our classes, workshops and retreats: how to connect profoundly with Universal Energies through the felt-sensations of all of the Five Elements. In this article we will show you how to intentionally manifest and feel the Five Elements and Eight Directions in your own body, one at a time and then all Five Elements simultaneously.
If you are a Tai Chi Ch’uan, Hsing Yi Chuan or Bagua Chang practitioner, beginner or advanced, this teaching can quickly take your practice to an advanced level unimaginable by most practitioners. If you are a healer, your skills and efficacy will be limitless, and your patient base will grow exponentially.
The movements of your form will naturally flow, effortlessly, gracefully and powerfully, with an unbreakable connection to all of nature, reaching deep into the earth and deep into the center of the Universe. Directing these energetic flows, with intention, then becomes second nature.
In Taoism and in traditional Chinese medical theory, the system of the five elements describes the interactions and relationships between phenomena. All of nature and the universe can be defined by the elements, and all aspects of nature contain the principles of the five elements. Every element is associated with a color, direction, season, organ, planet, food, taste and quality of energy; all of which interact with each other, and with the attributes of all the other elements.
The creative, or generating, cycle of the five elements is:
Wood creates Fire, Fire creates Earth, Earth creates Metal, Metal creates Water and Water creates Wood.
The controlling, or destructive, cycle of the five elements is:
Wood uproots Earth, Earth controls Water, Water extinguishes Fire, Fire liquefies Metal and Metal cuts Wood.
The elements are represented within us, as aspects of our organs, emotions and systems of the body, and as self-aware beings we can bring balance and harmony to body, mind and spirit to ourselves, and our students, clients and patients, by feeling, understanding and applying the creative or controlling cycles of the elements.
Our bodies intrinsically contain the Five Elements, not just conceptually; these elements are an inseparable part of our flesh and blood, all the way down to our DNA. If you are a bio-energetic healer, In order to manipulate the elements of your patients, feeling which ones are out of balance and then increasing or decreasing energetic flow so that you can resolve their health issues, you must first be able to feel the different qualities of these elements within yourself.
This Five Element practice will also help you develop the ability to rest your awareness in more than one place simultaneously; for example, feeling the sensations in the dantien, the center of Earth and the center of the Universe at the same time, as well as intentionally directing these energies.
WOOD - The energetic quality of the Wood element is expanding, moving outward from the Center in all directions: Upward, Downward, East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West, Northwest, North and Northeast.
As humans, between Heaven and Earth, we are the Center. The exercise for creating the felt-sensation of the expanding Wood energy within you:
In the Wu Ji posture, calm and focus your mind, body and spirit with nine Extraordinary Breaths.
Send a root into the center of the Earth: bring your awareness to your perineum and visualize an imaginary cord of energy that extends from your perineum all the way down, through the countless layers of rock, down to the center, the very heart of the Earth. Feel the potent energy of the center of the Earth, and then draw that energy up the imaginary cord all the way back to your perineum, and then up the imaginary cord through the central channel of your body. This imaginary cord of energy continues upward, and out through your crown point (Ba Hui.) Continue to feel this imaginary cord of energy as your
awareness moves upward along the cord, through space until it finally connects to the center of the Universe.
Keeping the sensation of the imaginary cord connected solidly to the center of the Earth and at the same time to the center of the Universe, gently bring your awareness to your lower dantien, two inches below your navel and two inches inside your body. You will now feel the energies from Heaven and from Earth accumulating in your lower dantien.
Now, from your lower dantien feel your awareness slowly expanding, as if you were filling up like a balloon, moving outward in all directions. Feel the exquisite movement of this expansion, and, while keeping your awareness in your dantien, follow this expanding sensation as far as you are able.
Then bring your awareness back to your dantien, and rest your mind. Now that you have made this intentional, energetic connection to Earth and Heaven, and felt the continual expansion of Wood, it will always be there in your body and mind.
FIRE - The energetic quality of the Fire Element is rising. Fire is the only element that defies gravity, it is always moving upward.
The exercise for creating the felt-sensation of the rising Fire energy within you:
Keeping your awareness in your dantien, bring your awareness at the same time to the center of the Earth, and direct your awareness and this energy to rise, and follow this rising sensation: as it ascends from the center of the Earth up through your feet, up from your perineum, up your central channel, and then out through your Ba Hui point - the crown of your head - follow this rising sensation all the way to the center of Heaven.
Then bring your awareness back to your dantien, and rest your mind. Now that you have made this intentional, energetic connection to Earth and Heaven, and felt the continual rising of Fire, it will always be there in your body and mind.
EARTH - The Earth element is the stabilizing element, the one that keeps the other elements from fighting or overpowering each other, it is known as the lubricant between the elements. Earth represents the inter-directions: southeast, southwest, northwest and northeast. Earth also represents the periods between the seasons: late spring and early summer, late summer and early fall, late fall to early winter, late winter to early spring. When the Earth element is in harmony in nature, the in-between seasons prepare us for the intensity of the seasons in their fullness.
Earth is the mother of all of the elements, and the energetic quality of the Earth element is stability, immovability, a denseness that provides support.
The exercise for creating the felt-sensation of the stabilizing Earth energy within you:
With your awareness in your dantien, visualize yourself as a mountain range and feel the timeless, abiding weight and stability of these majestic mountains. Mountains are not just rocks (the bones): feel the movement of the mountain streams (blood vessels), the wind and fog (breath), the clouds around the mountains (the chi that runs through your channels and meridians) and feel all of your organs (liver/wood, heart/fire, spleen/earth, lungs/ metal and kidneys/water).
Then bring your awareness back to your dantien, and rest your mind. Now that you have made this intentional, energetic connection to Earth and Heaven, and felt the continual stability of Earth, it will always be there in your body and mind.
METAL - The energetic quality of the Metal element is a condensing feeling, a felt-sensation of a magnetizing energy moving inward to the Center from all directions: Downward, Upward, East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West, Northwest, North and Northeast.
The exercise for creating the felt-sensation of the condensing, drawing inward Metal energy within you:
With your awareness in your dantien, direct the energies from all directions (from below, from above, from the East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West, Northwest and North) to draw in toward your dantien, feel the sensation of the entire Universe moving toward your dantien, it is a gentle, irresistible force.
Then bring your awareness back to your dantien, and rest your mind. Now that you have made this intentional, energetic connection to Earth and Heaven, and felt the continual drawing inward of Metal, it will always be there in your body and mind.
WATER - The energetic quality of the Water element is a downward, converging flow. Water seeks its lowest point, accumulates and then rises.
The exercise for creating the felt-sensation of the descending Water energy within you:
With your awareness in your dantien, bring your attention down to your feet at the same time and feel a fluidly moving, heavy mass accumulating around you as it swells upward through your body to your head and then spills
Then bring your awareness back to your dantien, and rest your mind. Now that you have made this intentional, energetic connection to Earth and Heaven, and felt the continual descending and accumulating of Water, it will always be there in your body and mind.
ALL FIVE ELEMENTS - The exercise for creating the felt-sensation of the energy of all five elements simultaneously within you:
Keeping your awareness in your dantien, create within yourself the felt-sensations of all five elements at once: the expansion of Wood, the rising of Fire, the stability of Earth, the magnetizing of Metal and the accumulating and spilling over of Water. Hold these sensations for as long as possible.
Then bring your awareness back to your dantien, and rest your mind.
Now that you have made this intentional, energetic connection to Earth and Heaven, and felt the simultaneous coexistent expansion of Wood, the rising of Fire, the stability of Earth, the drawing inward of Metal and the descending and accumulating of Water, they will always be there in your body and mind.
Excerpted from The Art and Mastery of Bio-Energetic Healing, by published by Inner Alchemy Publishing, July 1, 2012.