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Acupuncture Today – November, 2011, Vol. 12, Issue 11

Medical Qi Gong and Emotions

By David Twicken, DOM, LAc

Medical qi gong is a comprehensive system of healing. This natural healing system contains the principles of classical and traditional Chinese medicine, as well as theories and applications from the wide range of indigenous traditions of Chinese culture.

These traditions include the many branches of taoist theory and practices; including philosophical, religious, alchemical, mystical and cosmological taoist traditions.

The ancient Chinese had a unique understanding of the universe. They perceived numerous ways life functioned and developed models that expressed them. These models include yin-yang, tai chi and the five phases. All of life can be viewed in these three flows or patterns of cycles. One of the most insightful discoveries of the ancient Chinese was these models are "systems of correspondences." The ability to perceive or predict how one correspondence can influence another is the essence of the Chinese medical model. Medical qi gong uses this classic model to influence correspondences to bring the body to balance and harmony.

Tai Chi theory is an extension of yin-yang theory. It contains three forces: yin-yuan-yang. These three inseparable forces exist in all post-natal manifestations. Tai Chi theory is based on an important theory called San Qing, which means the three powers or three forces. This cosmic model includes: heaven-human-Earth, physical-emotional-spiritual and jing-qi-shen. It also includes the model wei-ying-yuan - an important model found in the Nei Jing. Each of these models is a system of correspondences. Influencing one part of a correspondence influences other parts.

For example, in classic Chinese medicine emotions are stored in the blood. A classical treatment for treating emotions is blood letting. Treating blood influences emotions. This is a Chinese medical modality working on the relationship of emotions and the vital substance, blood. It is a clinical application of systems of correspondences.

medical qi gong - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Chapter 5 of the Su Wen presents the five shen. These shen are stored or housed in the yin organs, and each of the five shen corresponds with a five phase. For example, the hun is housed in the liver, which is wood. The shen is housed in the heart, which is fire; the yi is housed in the spleen, which is Earth; the po is housed in the lungs, which is metal and the zhi is housed in the kidneys, which is water. Systems of correspondences, which is based on categorizing all of life into universal models, including yin-yang and five phases, connects a stream of relationships. This model contains the ability to influence one correspondence by influencing a distal or related correspondence. For instance, if the po shen is imbalanced and a person is suffering from sadness, treating the lungs can influence this condition. In the practice of acupuncture, selecting the lung channel or other channels that have a direct relationship to the lungs can be needled. For example, the large intestine channel is the yin-yang pair of the lungs; the spleen is the tai yin pair of the lungs, and it is the Earth and the parent element of metal. The bladder is the opposite pair of the lung in the ying qi cycle (meridian clock) and they share the same six-channel name: tai yang and tai yin. The ying qi cycle is presented in the chapter 21 of the Ling Shu. Each of these channels corresponds to the lungs based on classical Chinese medical principles and can be treated to influence the lungs and the po shen.

The Ling Shu contains 20 bladder channel points, and there are five back shu points, which match the yin organs. Chapter 16 of the Ling Shu lists five celestial points (window of the sky points); the five phases model permeates the acupuncture model in the su wen and Ling Shu. Later, 10 of these points were listed, most likely to match the 10 celestial stems of the Chinese calendar.

Each of the five phases has numerous correspondences; a few of the major ones are colors, emotions, organs, sensory organs, shen, sounds and shapes. Table 1 contains this information. It is common for the yin organ to be named for a sound, both the yin and yang paired organ are part of each sound and is influenced in the healing sounds.

Table 1 Five phases correspondences.

  Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
Color Green Red Yellow White Black
Direction East South Center West North
Season Spring Summer Indian Summer Fall Winter
Yin Organs Liver Heart Spleen Lungs Kidneys
Yang Organs Gallbladder Small Intestine Stomach Large Intestine Bladder
Sense Organs Eyes Tongue Mouth Nose Ears
Emotions Kindness
Spirit Hun Shen Yi Po Zhi
Sounds Shhhhh Haw Ho SSSS Chuii, a wave sound
Shape Rod Triangle Rectangle Sphere Downward

Medical qi gong utilizes one or more of these five phases correspondences to influence the three treasures: the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of a person. One of the oldest and most popular medical qi gong practices is the six healing sounds. The healing sounds are an ancient practice. Tao Hongjing, 451-536, is one of the most famous Chinese medical doctors, qi gong and nei gong practitioners, herbalists and San Qing Taoist in Chinese history; he promoted the healing sounds as a fundamental practice. Most qi gong forms have many variations, and the six healing sounds is no exception. All traditions have a sound, and some include postures or shapes that reflect the five phases. There are forms that also include a posture, shape, color, emotions and sound. The healing sounds that contain those five correspondences are a powerful medical qi gong and an effective emotional transformational medical qi gong.

The basic goal of the healing sounds is to influence an organ and its correspondences by applying the three adjustments: posture, breath and intention. From a traditional Chinese medical viewpoint, the influence can include clearing heat or wind or breaking through qi stagnation. From a psycho-emotional viewpoint, the healing sounds can release the unfavorable emotions of an organ and allow the reconnecting to the natural virtue of the organ. And from a spiritual viewpoint, the healing sounds attune to the five shen. Attuning to the five shen or the five aspects of consciousness allows a person to unite their yi or attention with their qi and body as one integrated whole, allowing for the natural expression of harmony and balance. From a shaman viewpoint, the wu of ancient China used qi gong to unite with the spirits of heaven, integrating heaven and earth. The San Qing Daoism tradition emphasized cultivating the connection of the spirits of heaven and humanity; they developed methods to enhance these relationships. The healing sounds can influence the three treasures: jing, qi and shen or the physical, mental and spiritual. The intention in the specific medical qi gong practiced provides the focus on which of the three treasures is being emphasized.

The healing sounds are one of the most effective medical qi gong practices. They clear heat and toxins, cool the body, release unfavorable energy and emotional qi, and build the connection to the natural virtue of the shen. The healing sounds presented are an integration of the best of my 25 years researching, practicing and teaching them. The healing sounds are a powerful emotional transforming qi gong.

The lungs are the metal phase, and its yin-yang pair is the large intestine. The color is white, gold or silver and the sound is a hissing sound: ssssssssss. The lungs and large intestine's unfavorable emotions are sadness, depression, grief, sorrow and feelings of isolation and the inability to forgive. The favorable emotion or virtue is courage. The shape is sphere or round; therefore, we take a sphere of round shaped position. In this practice all these correspondences are included in the medical qi gong practice.

Medical qi gong should contain the three adjustments: posture, breath and intention. The following outlines the basic practice for the healing sounds.

  1. The healing sounds begin by taking a long, deep breath from the lower tan tian: from the area around guan yuan, ren 4.
  2. As you inhale move your arms and body into the proper position and then make the sound on the exhale.
  3. The exhale should be slow, gentle and as long as possible; with no straining.
  4. When you finish exhaling, place your hands over the organ the sound corresponds; the palm should face the body.
  5. Place the tip of your tongue to your palate and behind your teeth; this enhances the natural flow and connection of qi from the du and ren channels.
  6. Smile and place your attention in the organs being worked on; this guides qi into the lungs, energizing and rejuvenating them. Additionally, the well, spring and stream points are on the hands and are some of the most energetically powerful points on the body, placing them on an organ transfers qi to the organ to energize and rejuvenate them.
  7. Keep your attention or yi in the lungs as you inhale and exhale. Inhaling guides qi into the lungs, and exhaling with your yi in the organ keeps it there, reinforcing and energizing it.
  8. The exhale, which is the yang stage, releases excesses and stagnations and is a reducing method.
  9. The rest or yin stage of the practice is a reinforcing method.

The following is the three adjustments for the lung and large intestine healing sound:

  • Posture: A sphere or round shape. Notice the arms are in a sphere or round shape for the lung healing sound.
  • Intention: During the exhale release the unfavorable emotions, and in the rest stage focus on the favorable virtue.
  • Breath: A long inhale to begin and a long exhale when making the sound. In the rest stage focus the yi in the organ, and breathe naturally.

It is traditional to repeat the sound three times. During each season repeat the sound for the season six times, for example, during the fall perform the lung and large intestine sound six times. When prescribing the healing sounds for medical purposes, a medical prescription should be recommended. This prescription can be three times a day, and a particular organ sound 9, 18, 36 or 72 times. To reduce or sedate make the sound loud; to reinforce make the sound sub-vocally. As a maintenance practice, make a very low sound.

Medical qi gong provides an opportunity for people to practice a self-healing method daily, in the comfort of their living spaces, with no need to go to a medical office. These natural self-healing methods can be practiced alone or along with herbal or acupuncture treatments, which create a powerful synergetic healing effect.

In the next article the kidney and liver healing sounds will be presented with Chinese medical correspondences related to the three treasures: jing, qi and shen.


  • Chinese Medical Qi Gong Therapy, Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson, International Institute Medical Qi Gong.
  • Emotional Wisdom, Mantak Chia, Dena Saxer, New World Library.
  • Qi Gong Empowerment, Master Shou-Yu Liang, Wen-Ching Wu, Way of Dragon Publishing.
  • Ling Shu or The Spiritual Pivot, Wu Jing-Nuan, The Taoist Center
  • Six Healing Movements: Qi Gong for Health, Strength and Longevity, Gin Foon Mark, Ymaa Publication Center.
  • Taoist Qi Gong for Health and Vitality, Sat Cheun Hon, Shambhala
  • The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, China Science & Technology, Wu, Wu
  • Transform Stress into Vitality, Mantak Chia, Healing Tao Center.

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

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