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Chi Cycles in Elements/Organs/Emotions

October 6, 2015

The Chinese developed a complex cohesive system of relationships between the body organs, our emotions, the elements of the planet, and the five directions. They are additional relationships with colors, tastes, the seasons, the planets, and animals.

For the practitioner of Tai Chi, it is especially worthy to note the core relationships between directions, body organs, emotions and the elements, since they are directly related to the circulation of chi throughout the body, and having awareness of structural integrity and directional integrity in the practice of tai chi form.

This overview summary presents a foundation framework for the student to begin exploration of this Chinese system of understanding our health and well being, and how it is related to the universe around us.  It also provides a much broader context in which to consider the circulation of chi.

Kidney/Bladder    North     Water     Winter     Mercury     Blue     Salty   Pos emotion:  Wisdom, willpower         Neg emotion:  Fear, loss
Effect on the chi:  It drops chi

Heart/Small Int.     South     Fire       Summer   Mars        Red      Bitter  Pos emotion:  Joy, Love             Neg Emotion:  Shock, Hysteria. Sorrow
Effect on chi:  It scatters chi

Lungs/Lge Int.       West      Metal     Autumn    Venus    White   Pungent
Pos emotion:  Courage, willingness      Neg emotion:  Sadness, grief
Effect on chi:   It constricts chi

Liver/Gall bladder   East    Wood    Spring     Jupiter    Green   Sour
Pos emotion:  Confidence, perserverence            Neg emotion:  Anger
Effect on chi:  It raises chi

Stomach/Spleen    Center    Earth    Ind.Summer  Saturn  Yellow  Sweet
Pos emotion:  Balance, fairness         Neg emotion:  Worry, anxiety
Effect on chi:  It knots chi


Kidney (water) is associated with the tortoise.  It means endurance.

Heart (fire) is associated with the phoenix red bird.  It means radiant extension.

Lungs (metal) are associated with the tiger.  It means strength.

Liver (wood) is associated with the dragon.  It means growth.

Stomach (earth) is associated with caldron.  It means stability.

In the practice of Chinese medicine, the cycles of relationships between organs become important. The Nourishing Cycle is Wood to Fire to Earth to Metal to Water to Wood.  The Grandmother Cycle is Water to Fire to Metal to Wood to Earth to Water.

With this sketchy and fundamental outline, the tai chi practitioner can begin to appreciate the subtle and complex philosophy, science, and physics associated with the practice of tai chi form.  From a western perspective the significance of it all may appear rather illusive and mysterious.  But. as with the practice of form, awareness and understanding slowly improve and deepen over time.