Meditation and Qi Gong Page:
Five Element Energy Meditation
The five elements are a further delineation of universal energy from Yin and Yang in Taoist theory. It is an important model that is central to the effective practice of certain styles of Chinese Medicine, Taoist meditation, qi gong and martial arts. The following Five Element Energy Meditation is a classic form of meditation/ qi gong that with practice, will allow the practitioner to improve overall health and get more in touch with one’s own constitutional energies, as well as one’s connection to the corresponding five element energies of the universe. You can begin and end in any one of the five element organ systems, but for the purposes of this particular version, I choose to begin and end in the fire element: the heart.
- Sit, stand or lie down comfortably. Try and keep the spine somewhat straight. The element fire is connected with the heart center. Begin by breathing deeply into the heart center. Envision a warm red color enveloping your heart, your chest, small intestine and eventually, your entire body. Continue to breathe deeply and bask in the glow of warm red energy surrounding and permeating your entire being. Connect with the emotion of joy, feel joy permeating every pore of your body and consciousness as the warm red energy surrounds and pulses through your entire being. Let go of any anxiety that you notice in the heart center. Release any anxiety with the out breath and continue to breathe in healing red energy and the emotion of joy. Continue this visualization for multiples of 8 breaths.
- Next feel your awareness move down to the stomach and spleen. The stomach and spleen are connected with the earth element. Breath deeply into the stomach area and envision a warm golden energy filling your stomach, your spleen and eventually your entire being. Breathe deeply and feel the grounded quality of golden earth energy surrounding and permeating your entire being. Notice any worry feelings that reside in your stomach and spleen centers. Exhale any worries you encounter and transform them into a feeling of groundedness and centeredness as you bask in the radiant, golden energy. Continue this visualization for multiples of 8 breaths.
- Next, feel your awareness move up to the lungs and into the large intestine. The lungs and large intestine are connected with the metal element. Breath deeply into the lungs and large intestine and envision a cooling, healing white energy filling your lungs, large intestine and eventually your entire being. Breath deeply and feel the cleansing quality of white, metal energy surrounding and permeating your entire being. Notice any feelings of sadness or grief that you encounter in the lung center. Exhale any sadness or grief that you encounter and transform them into a feeling of courage and determination as you bask in the cleansing, white, metal energy. Continue this visualization for multiples of 8 breaths.
- Next feel your awareness move down into the kidneys and urinary bladder. The kidneys and urinary bladder are connected with the water element. Breath deeply into the kidneys and envision a powerful dark blue energy filling the kidneys and urinary bladder, and eventually your entire being. Breathe deeply and feel the powerful, dynamic, dark blue energy surrounding and permeating your entire being completely. Notice any fear feelings that reside in the kidneys and urinary bladder. Exhale any fears you encounter and transform them into a feeling of gentle confidence as you bask in the powerful, dark blue energy. Continue this visualization for multiples of 8 breaths.
- Next feel your awareness move into the liver and gallbladder. The liver and gallbladder are connected with the wood element. Breath deeply into the liver and gallbladder and envision a lively green energy filling your liver and gallbladder and eventually your entire being. Breathe deeply and feel the expansive quality of the green wood energy surrounding and permeating your entire being. Notice any feelings of anger or hostility that reside in your liver and gallbladder centers. Exhale any anger and hostility you encounter and transform them into a feeling of benevolence and kindness as you bask in the expansive energy of wood. Continue this visualization for multiples of 8 breaths. Move your awareness back to the fire energy of the heart center. Once again feel the firey red energy and the feelings of joy that are associated with the heart. Remain in the heart center for another 8 breaths. Gather all of the energy accumulated throughout the entire meditation and store it in the lower dantien: the energy center located two finger widths underneath the umbilicus. Swallow any saliva that has been generated during the meditation and use it to seal the energy into the lower dantien.
Here is an audio file of the entire meditation. The sound quality is a little rough. I’ll fix it with a new microphone sometime soon.
on sound cloud:
Self-Empowerment Through Meditation
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the causes of disharmony in the body can be roughly divided into internal and external. The external causes are termed “The Six Pernicious Influences” and correlate loosely with conditions of climate, e.g. wind, cold, heat, fire, dryness and dampness and are more or less simply a descriptive barometer for measuring a person’s overall immune function or level of “wei chi”, “protective energy” as it is called in TCM. The Six Pernicious Influences would thus also extend to include external pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, air pollution, electromagnetic fields and essentially all potentially harmful environmental influences.
Internally, TCM considers the “Seven Emotions” as a primary factor influencing one’s overall state of health. While it has only been in the last couple of centuries that western medicine has begun really studying the correlations between mental/emotional and physical health (consider that Sigmund Freud, the “Father of modern psychology” began treating around 1886), practitioners of TCM have been studying the mind/body/spirit correlation for thousands of years. While it is most certainly not my intention to start a pissing match over whose brand of medicine is more enlightened than whose, I will state an obvious fact: to this day western treatments of mental and emotional imbalances still focus mostly on treating symptoms via what is essentially an ongoing experimentation on human beings with pharmaceuticals. While I fully concur that in extreme cases of depression, anxiety or psychosis, medications offer what may be a person’s only hope for regaining some tenuous semblance of balance, I will also say that in TCM it has always been pointed out that the best medicine is the medicine that is applied before symptoms even begin to arise. In other words, for thousands of years, the Taoist tradition from whence TCM arose has encouraged people to empower themselves by taking control of their own mental and emotional states from the very get go.
In a very real way this has been one of the fundamental philosophical differences separating western and eastern medicine historically. Eastern medicine has traditionally always been a mostly preventative medicine that seeks to empower the patient by putting as much information and responsibility in their hands as they are willing to accept, while western medicine has been more of a “wait till it breaks and then fix it” medicine that has emphasized quick fixes and external interventions by specialists versed in arcane Latin medical terminology, via more invasive therapies. While this western mentality is a definite strength in acute emergency medicine, the eastern traditions carry with them a depth of expertise in the ongoing maintenance of physical, mental and emotional well-being that is unsurpassed. And this brings us to a little subject I like to call meditation.
What is meditation? Why is it useful? Is the moment to moment state of wellbeing that you experience within your control, or do you need an expert like a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, meditation master or guru to help you find the meaning of your existence and your rightful place in the universe? Wouldn’t you like to know! Just kidding. This is what this page will be devoted to: the ongoing exploration of your authentic self – the core of your existence – through meditation and self-enquiry.
If you think about it, this may be the one thing – the only thing – that we truly have any exclusive control over as individual beings. Everything else that happens in the world, the universe, throughout our lives, is an ever changing combination of so many variables that even the most advanced teams of quantum physicists will be left in the end, scratching their heads and forced to admit about the absolute nature of reality, “Golly gee whiz. I guess I just don’t know!”
Albert Einstein himself once said, “We know nothing about [God, the world] at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. Possibly we shall know a little more than we do now, but the real nature of things; that we shall never know, never. (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, Page 208).
Well shoot, I don’t know about you but I’ll take Einstein’s word on that one. An outward search for ultimate meaning and truth about the world, the universe and human existence via the intellect would appear to be ultimately futile. It seems that as far as the absolute nature of reality is concerned, perhaps the only viable field of enquiry is inward; into the nature of awareness and a reality that ultimately transcends the mind.
To be continued…
What is meditation? Why is it important? And since it’s so important, how in the world do you practice it? The answers to these questions can and already have filled countless books. The reason for this is that the process of meditation, while fundamentally straight forward, can also be as unique as the person to whom it applies. In other words, there could be roughly 7 Billion different forms of meditation at this point. Every person is unique. Every snowflake that has ever fallen has been unique, but fundamentally they are all water at the source. So I figured I’d cut to the chase and open up a Q&A here to give people specific answers to real questions: to help them find the water at their own source.
I’ll give you a very basic answer to the question what is meditation to get the ball rolling. You could say that meditation is the practice of one-pointed awareness. It is like the one-pointed awareness that you might experience if you were running through the forest while somebody tried to shoot you with a rifle. Imagine how present you would be in that moment. Perhaps that doesn’t seem like an ideal situation, but that’s the beauty of meditation: it is applicable to the entirety of life, and life is rarely a series of ideal situations.
Why would you want that kind of one-pointed awareness? Because in a moment like that there are no thoughts, no worries, no negative emotions; there is only pure awareness; unfettered aliveness. What about fear you might ask? No, in a moment like that there is not even fear. In that moment you wouldn’t have the capacity for fear. Fear comes later when the situation is finished and the mind is once again evaluating everything, categorizing, analyzing, judging and putting names on things.
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