To truly understand Five Element Theory at it’s deepest level is a complex art and science which can take practitioners many years to feel comfortable with.
The ancient Daoist philosophers used the metaphor of the Five Elements to explain the relationship, interaction, and ongoing change of everything in the Universe—physical, mental, and spiritual.
They were able to perceive the inseparable nature of humanity and the universe.
They developed theories and models that express and reflect this inseparable nature.
Each person contains the three treasures of life: the physical, psycho-emotional, and spiritual (Jing, Qi, Shen). These treasures are woven within the physical parts of the body, including the skin, muscles, bones, organs, arteries, nerves, and the brain.
They are also woven with the acupuncture channels.
The body and the channels are one fully integrated system.
In the context of kinesiology, the Elements correspond to a matrix of specific muscles, organs, glands, meridians as well as emotions, attitudes, virtues and behaviours.
The Qi of each Element is also unique in its nature.
Yin corresponds to the organs that store Qi.
The yin organs are more stable and constant, representing more of the homeostatic mechanisms of the body. As they work with maintaining the body’s foundation, they’re both more consequential and more vulnerable.
Each Yin organ also ‘houses’ a particular spiritual aspect of a human being.
- Mind (Shen) – Heart
- Ethereal Soul (Hun) – Liver
- Corporeal Soul (Po) – Lungs
- Intellect (Yi) – Spleen
- Will-Power (Zhi) – Kidneys
Collectively these are referred to as the ‘Five Shen’, a complex of all five mental-spiritual aspects of a human being, i.e. the Shen itself, the Hun, the Po, the Yi and the Zhi. This is also often translated as the ‘Five Spirits’ or vital organ intelligence’s embodied in our heart, liver, lungs, spleen and kidneys.
Five Shen theory is the Daoist understanding of the working of ego, or personal self, called ‘heart-mind’ (xin) in Chinese.
The Shen represents the forces that shape our personality including mental and spiritual aspects.
Shen belongs mainly to the Fire Element but Shen itself is divided in Five Elements.
It is the most subtle and non-material type of Qi.
The connection between the Five Shen and the vital organs is a staple of Chinese medicine, and dates to the earliest medical texts of the Yellow Emperor Internal Classic in 215 BCE.
An important characteristic of Chinese medicine is integration of body, mind and spirit which is highlighted by the integration of these three vital substances (Jing, Qi, and Shen).
Jing is the essence, inherent drive, the DNA.
Qi is energy that animates all life.
Shen is the spirit that guides and inspires the flow of Qi.
The Jing, Qi, and Shen represent a type of ‘information’ vibrating at different frequencies.
The Five Shen are an example of the ancient Chinese awareness of the unity of the body, mind, and spirit.
It is important to view the Five Shen as five aspects of one Shen (a person).
One of the underlying principles of acupoint selection in applying acupressure is that each point on a channel has a unique effect on the Organ, much like each hole on a flute produces a different note.
It is easy to suggest that it is important to treat the client at the ‘spirit level’, but reaching the level of spirit is not always possible.
This information is essential in developing an appropriate treatment plan.
Often the emotional, psychological, and spiritual condition reveals areas of life that a person needs to understand in order to grow. It is common for a person to act in a way that causes the imbalances to be expressed in their life; this expression may be necessary to bring awareness of the condition.
The awareness provides an opportunity to bring consciousness of the situation and begin a path of change and transformation.
Learning these pathways is the key to understanding how to apply effective corrections in clinical practice.
In this multi-part series we will delve deeper into the specific vital organ intelligence’s (spirits) embodied in our heart, liver, lungs, spleen and kidneys.
Ready to learn more?
Five Element BioEergetics II: Spiritual Pathways of Qi brings a vision and understanding of how to assess and treat the roots of an imbalance, whether on a body, mind or spirit level.
A key feature of this course is harmonising the Five Shen (Spiritual Qi) and in turn creating a new and deeper level of integration between the client’s biology, psychology, and spirituality.