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Acupuncture Today
April, 2012, Vol. 13, Issue 04
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Medical Qi Gong and Emotions - Part II

By David Twicken, DOM, LAc

The Ancient Chinese had a unique insight about the relationship between nature and humanity. They perceived the inseparable nature of life, which is the basis of the theory of the three treasures: heaven, humanity and Earth.

The three treasures are really three inseparable aspects of a life: jing, qi and shen or the physical, emotional and spiritual. The Chinese medical classics are ambiguous about shen. Their focus appears to be explaining the things that create an imbalance in our life, and these imbalances can be viewed in levels of intensity. The most intense can cause a trauma or stress that can disrupt the balance of a person that it influences their spirit or their most fundamental nature. A way to view this balance is the Chinese view each person has a natural condition or state, the yuan shen. When we are in balance our life is a natural expression of yuan shen. When life stresses are intense they take us away from this yuan shen and we can become polarized, our attention is focused in this polarization. What is it that gets polarized? In five-shen psychology, it is the Yi Shen that is polarized.

In five-phase and five-shen theory the Earth phase and the yi shen are in the center of the five-phases. This center position indicates how Earth influences all the five-phases, its condition influences all the other phases. The yi shen is our conceptual mind, our ability to think and organize thoughts. The yi and spleen relate to the mouth; the kidney zhi is our will and hearing; the wood represents the ethereal and our ability to understand the collective nature of our life and seeing: eye sight; the heart shen represents our essential nature, our purpose and relates to the tongue and speech; the lung po represents the corporeal and physical body, breathing and smell. In the same way the spleen and stomach are the origin of the creation of post-natal essences, and transforms and transports food and drink throughout the body, the yi digests, transforms and processes all experiences in our life. All food and drink must go through the mouth; all processing of experiences goes through the yi. The yi transfers these experiences to the other shen and their corresponding sense and sensory organs.

The Earth is a transforming phase; it receives and processes. The yi is the aspect of our mind that is the conceptional body; it takes in experiences and organizes them. The yi makes sense of these experiences, which include feelings and emotions. The maturity of the yi contributes to how experiences and emotions are processed. For example, if a person is prejudiced toward a race or ethnic group, this prejudice is part of the thinking and concepts towards the group. The yi processes this prejudice into the Earth yi, which then influences the other shen. How we see (hun), hear (zhi), smell (po) and speak (shen) is influenced by the yi's condition.

A fundamental aspect of the spleen's function is to hold blood in the vessels and assist in circulating it to the four limbs. On a psychological and emotional level, the yi holds thoughts and feelings inside the body and distributes them throughout the body. If our yi is clear and balanced and full of the innate natural virtues of all shen, those feelings and emotions are circulated throughout the body. This processes of the spleen functions in the same way at the physical and emotional level.

The acupuncture system contains a network that connects the superficial, middle and deep levels or wei, ying and yuan layers of the body, mind and spirit. In Chapter 16 of the ling shu (spiritual pivot) the daily meridian clock is presented. This circuit includes the 12-primary channels. What is not commonly taught is at the end of the circuit, from cycle gate, liver 14, a pathway flows to the du and ren channels. A branch at liver 14 flows to the lungs and another branch flows to the center-line, and then to the head and down the du channel and then up the ren channel. This circuit, with its branches is an example of how the body has a layering system. The layers are a way influences or pathogens can transfer from the superficial to the deep. The complete ying qi cycle or daily meridian clock cycle is an example of how emotions in daily life can move into the deeper channels of the body, the eight extraordinary channels if they are not resolved.  If we do not release these influences when they are at the wei or superficial level, they can move into the yuan level, and become part of our constitution, which is much more difficult to treat.

The gallbladder and its shao yang energetics are another example of the body's ability to release or retain imbalances. Shao yang energetics is a filtering system, when functioning properly, it releases what we do not need to the exterior and retains what is beneficial. When these energetics are imbalanced, the channel can hold or retain what is not beneficial. We lose the ability to make clear decisions, and let go and retain it in a healthy way. The gallbladder is also a fu and curious organ. The characters for the curious organs are often translated as the eight extraordinary channels. They are often called the extraordinary fu. The gallbladder is a bridge from the primary channels to the deep eight extraordinary channels. Behind the kidneys, the gallbladder has the most acupoints on the eight extraordinary channels. Emotional stress can be trapped or held in the shao yang channels and energetics, if not resolved they can enter the yuan level. This process shows how everyday stress can be held and possibility enter deeper levels to become one's constitution.

Classic Chinese medicine presents the emotions are stored in the blood, in the luo channels. These channels are at the superficial layer of the body and are bled. Bleeding allows the emotions to be released from the body. How do emotions manifest? Chinese medicine and philosophy refers to the natural virtues of a person. When we are in balance these virtues are the natural expression of our life. The ancient Chinese had a clear understanding of the influences of lifestyle on the body, mind and spirit. The stresses and the feelings they generate can be considered yang, they are on the wei layers. If for a variety of reasons we hold on to them and continually relive them, our body responds by creating yin to produce a substance to maintain these yang feelings or experiences. Blood is the yin substance that holds the emotions. It is the yi that is holding on by reliving, rethinking, continually re-experiencing the experience. This process is the emotional dimension of the spleen's ability to hold in the blood vessels. Understanding this process allows for understanding methods that can release negative emotions and allow the free flow of the natural virtues.

The Healing Sounds medical qi gong is an effective qi gong to release unfavorable emotions and allow the natural virtues to be expressed. In the first article of this series the Lung healing sound was presented, the kidneys are now presented. (Refer to the November, 2011 article for the basic preparation and process for all the healing sounds.)

The Kidneys represent the zhi spirit and corresponds to fear and paranoia, as well as gentleness. During the exhale release fear and in the rest period allow gentleness to manifest. The zhi reflects our will and the will to live the type of life we desire. It includes the will to seek our true nature, to understand our essential nature. The kidneys have an internal pathway to the heart, this is jing seeking shen. The heart and kidneys are shao yin, the inseparable nature of jing and shen, fire and water and yin and yang.

The basic nature of water is to be fluid and adaptive, to be able to adjust to any situation. An important quality of jing is the possibility to become anything, to take any form. When a person is frozen in life, they become locked and rigid. If the zhi is frozen, fear can manifest; the fear of being trapped and limited. It's this fear that prevents one from changing, from attempting and accomplishing the things that comprise their most innate purpose in life: to live from the heart shen. The kidney healing sound (includes the bladder) can release fear and the coldness that can manifest from being frozen in our life.

The kidneys correspond to the back and spine. Begin by sitting in a chair with the back straight, inhale and lean forward rounding the back and clasping your knees. Exhale to the sound of a wave, just like you hear a wave at the beach. It should be a long, gentle exhale. While exhaling you can  just make the wave sound or include repeating the word fear, to release any fear that may exist. When the breath has been fully exhaled, slowly inhale as you move back to the starting position. Sit with your hands at your knees or cover your kidneys with your hands and place your attention or yi in the kidneys. Breathe into the kidneys and exhale into the kidneys, keep your yi fixed in the kidneys and say the word gentleness. If you prefer you can visualize the color blue in and around the kidneys.

The exhale releases the negative emotions of the kidneys and zhi, as well as heat, gas and other pathogenic factors in the channel and organ. The inhale and rest period is the reinforcing method and strengthens the kidneys. The kidneys correspond to the knees, therefore, we touch the knees. The shape of water is cascading. In this qi gong we move downward and forward, a cascading like movement. The rounding of the back stimulates the kidneys. This kidney healing sound practice combines the sound, emotions, color and shape of water.

This simple qi gong is very effective. The kidney healing sound releases the unfavorable emotions of fear and clears heat and excess coldness in the kidney organ and channels, allowing the nature virtue of gentleness to be expressed. The rest stage of breathing into the organ reinforces the kidneys. Additionally, harmonizing the kidneys and zhi offers the opportunity to exert your will to achieve the things most important to you.

In my next article the liver and heart healing sounds and the hun and shen are presented.


  • Chinese Medical Qi Gong Therapy, Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson, International Institute Medical Qi Gong.
  • I Ching Acupuncture: The Balance Method, Clinical Applications of the Ba Gua and I Ching, Twicken, David, Jessica Kingsley Publication.
  • Ling Shu or The Spiritual Pivot, Wu Jing-Nuan, The Taoist Center.
  • The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, China Science & Technology, Wu, Wu.

Click here for more information about David Twicken, DOM, LAc.


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