Master Nan Lu, who holds a doctorate in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is a licensed acupuncturist and is the author of TCM books on breast cancer, menopause, and natural weight loss, presents an overview of the five elements of TCM and how they correspond to different parts of the body as well as the associated meridians. (1) TCM, which is based on the Taoist Five Element and Meridian theories, was developed over 2000 years ago in China. (2) The five elements, which are water, earth, metal, fire and wood, serve as a powerful tool for disorder diagnosis, treatment recommendations and health maintenance exercises.
The six healing sounds (liu zi jue) are related to each of the five elements and organ systems, with the element Fire associated with the heart and the triple burner meridian, and the other pairings are Earth-spleen, Metal-lungs, Water-kidneys, and Wood-liver. The sixth healing sound has no specific organ associate, but it is associated with the triple burner meridian. For each organ and element combination, there are also specific colors and associated seasons. (3)
The following table shows the colors and sounds that are used in qigong exercises for healing. The sounds should be done in the sequence given, starting with the liver and finishing with the triple burner. This sequence follows what is called the creative cycle of the five elements.
Organ Element Color Sounds
Liver Wood Green Shuu
Heart Fire Red Haaa
Spleen Earth Yellow Whoo
Lungs Metal White Tsss
Kidneys Water Blue Fuu
For the triple burner, the sound is Heeeeeeee, however it is made without actually making the vocal chords vibrate. Your mouth just needs to be in the open position and relaxed as the sound is formed.
Each of the sounds and movements should be repeated 3, 6 or 9 times before going on to the next. Do not overdo it at first, so 3 or 6 times is adequate.
It is recommended that those with heart or lung disorders use low to mid-level volumes when practicing these sounds. For those having spleen, liver, kidney, stomach and intestinal disorders, moderate to loud volumes can be used.
As illustrated in the video to the left and above, there are specific postures and movements associated with the use of these sounds. The postures or movements vary, depending on the school, or tradition, of qigong. Sometimes there are static postures; and at other times there are moving qigong exercises. The movements are designed which help open the meridians and remove the energetic blockages. This video shows an elegant set of movements that is commonly performed with each sound. Other videos can be found with different forms of movements (look for liu zi jue on YouTube) and you can also find instructions for different movements in texts, such as in Jerry Johnson’s book, Chinese medical Qigong therapy: A comprehensive clinical guide.
You may notice some differences in how the tones are pronounced, which will vary depending on the person practicing and the specific teachings of each school of qigong. The most important thing, however, is to maintain a state of relaxed attention on the organ and its meridian to achieve a felt resonance with the sound in order to help clear out any energetic blockages that may be present. This is an important point about qigong, you need to develop a body awareness which becomes an inner awareness of energetic imbalances that may exist in your body.
Training in healing sounds is becoming available to traditionally trained physicians at some institutions that teach holistic or integrative medicine, such as the University of Maryland School of Medicine. (4,5,6)