The Five ElementsAccording to Chinese philosophy, all things are manifestations of the Dao - the eternal, the infinite, which breaks apart into two opposing and complementary forces known as yin and yang. These are the inside and outside of everything, the pairing of all opposites, and they divide further into five phases known as the five elements. These are given the names Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
Each element creates the body's different organs and, in nature, the seasons of the year. They also create the deeper levels within us, those of our soul. They are the phases through which all things pass from their beginning to their end.
In five element acupuncture, diagnosis and treatment is based upon an understanding that each one of us has a particular relationship with one element, our guardian element. This element gives our life a certain emphasis, making some of us more serious or light-hearted, others more determined or anxious. It is this element which takes the brunt of the stress we are suffering, revealing its unease through physical and emotional signs of imbalance.
These we can detect through our senses. Five element acupuncturists learn to develop the sensory skills of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and feeling, skills we are born with, but rarely use in the modern world. In a similar way, they also learn to diagnose patients’ emotional distress, which lies behind the masks we may throw up to hide our unhappiness.