Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) revolves around the interaction and relationship among the five elements; metal, water, wood, fire, earth. The relationships are referred to as "Wu Xing", the five phases, and are graphically demonstrated in the graphic shown. Each of the elements supports one of the other elements (black arrows). For example water supports wood like water supports a tree. Alternatively, each element controls another element (white arrows), as one example metal controls wood like an axe on a tree.
The phase that fascinates me and is not initially intuitive is that wood controls earth. As an arborist that works in urban forestry and writes about the importance of trees, it is clear to me how wood manifests its control on earth. As more research is being conducted, a forest's impact on earth's soil, climate, and the air we breath is becoming more documented. In TCM this relationship is traditionally imparted as wood parts earth (such as roots; or, Trees can prevent soil erosion).
Optimal health requires a state of harmony or balance in both the control and support phases between the elements. For example, too much water will kill the tree as would too much metal. The objective is to keep them in balance in both support and control. These relationships are expressed in the yin/yang symbol which is a dynamic symbol of opposing forces in balance and harmony.
Like in the Wu Xing we seek a wood / earth balance. Wood is associated with the spring while earth is the transition between seasons. Using five element, four season Qigong we stimulate these elements through movement during certain times of the day and year to create harmony within ourselves and around us connecting ourselves with nature. Stay tuned for an overview of the circadian cycles and how to use your practice to create harmony and connect with nature!