Cultural Representations of the Human Body-Field

For a more complete discussion, please refer to this webpage: Introduction To Medical Schemas


The Art of Meditation is 1 of the 8 branches of Yoga. In learning art the meditation as a whole, the first lesson is to learn to focus on the breathing process in order to calm the mind by turning inward and to increase the flow of "prana" (the Birkland current) into the body. Next comes the arduous task of stilling the mind in order to become aware of the subtle energies that comprise the energy body or body-field. Please refer to the article entitled : The Human Body-Field. Eventually, the person becomes aware of the effect that all the energy fluxuations in the environment have upon interaction with the body-field of that person. This includes all the natural phenomena and now all the artificial, man-made, energy fluctuations.

I know that this seems rather brief but the essential point is that learning the art of meditation allows one to know intimately the body-field of the practitioner

Ayurvedic Medicine

Let us start with the Two Opposites. As with all ancient philosophical schemas, the wording of concepts is that of analogy and metaphor. This is understandable and holds true for much of our seemingly "modern" ideation of the world around us. The Ayurvedic theory of opposite and interdependent polarities is based on the qualities of duality. Accordingly, all things in the universe may be classified and grouped into 2 categories. In relation to Ayurvedic Medicine, there is Prana(+) and Ether(-), right or Ida(+) and left or Pingala(-), male(+) and female(-), Sun(+) and Moon(-), hot(+) and cold(-), exterior(+) and interior(-), dry(+) and wet(-), excess(+) and deficiency(-) and dynamic(+) and static(-). All else is a matter of intermediate quality and quantity.

Ayurveda describes 5 physical Elements that are the basis for the entire material world. The makeup of all matter is a mixture of these 5 Elements in different ratios. Prana is the subtlest and is described as primordial energy. Energy and matter are said to be different frequencies of this primordial energy. It is the basis for Human Bio-energy and is (+), Masculine. The next in descending order of denseness is the primordial matter called Ether as (-), Feminine. The combination of Prana and Ether creates movement and gives rise to Wind, the next Element in lower frequency. The movement of Wind against Ether causes friction and gives rise to heat as Fire, the next Element. Fire heats some of the matter to liquefaction and gives rise to flowing Water, the next Element. The combination of Water with Ether formed a solidification and generated Earth the most dense and lowest of frequency resonances.

The combination of these 5 Elements then gave rise to what is described as the 3 Humors (Tridoshas) that give rise to physical forces and organs within the Human body. In Ayurveda the diagnosis of disease and individual constitutions is in terms of three psycho-physical doshas, or humors, called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The literal meaning of dosha is 'fault' because these three humors are the three ways in which the body tends to move out of balance. Each persons psycho-physical constitution can be described in terms of one or a combination of these doshas. The characteristics of the Humors are inherited and predispose a person to certain constitution or disease susceptibility.

The union of Ether and Wind caused a type of energy (humor) to be created known as Vata. Vata is the subtlest humor and considered to be catabolic in nature. Vata is located in the Pelvic Cavity of the Body. It is related to the Large Intestine and the Nervous System. As it is the closer to the source of Prana, it is easier to unbalance and results in most physical maladies. Imbalances result in general dryness, anxiety, and nervous reactions and are aggravated by cold wind.

The union of Fire and Water caused the humor of Pitta to be created. Pitta is the second subtlest Element and is involved in metabolism. Pitta is located in the Abdominal Cavity. It is related to the Small Intestine and the Hormonal System. Pitta imbalances result in inflammation, heat, rashes and redness.

The union of Water and Earth Elements caused the Humor of Kapha to be created. The Kapha Humor deals with growth (anabolism) and is the least subtle Humor. Kapha is located in the Chest Cavity. It is related to the Stomach and the body tissue. Imbalances result in the production of phlegm and may result in heaviness, congestion and stagnation. As it is related to growth, obesity and excessive muscle size as well as an abundance of body hair is a Kapha feature.

The Element of Fire provides the impetus for action but has no form. The Small Intestine (SI) is a hollow organ and the site of aggravation when Pitta becomes unbalanced. It is in the SI that Pitta problems are said to originate and then spread to other parts of the body. It is the Fire Element that is spread and lends to heat being the basis of problems.

Ayurveda considers the Blood to be a Pitta tissue. Blood and Blood vessels have a strong relationship with Pitta and Fire. The Heart propels the Pitta and heat to all parts of the body. Thus the SI and Heart are 2 organs related to Pitta and Fire.

The Earth Element is the basis from which most physical things are built by providing stability and allowing growth. The Earth Element is the major component of Kapha. When Kapha is aggravated, the Stomach is the site of accumulation that then spreads to other body areas. It is said the phlegm first accumulates in the Stomach and then attacks the lungs. As Earth is basically solid, it lends to the Kapha attribute of heaviness, congestion and lack of flow. The Spleen is an Earth organ since it controls muscle growth. In conjunction with the Panaceas, it controls fat accumulation. Thus a Kapha disorder results in excess muscle, excess fat or phlegm accumulation. The 2 organs associated with Kapha and Earth are the Stomach and the Spleen.

The Ayurvedic concept of Wind is that of air that creates movement. Air is breathed into the Lungs and so the Element of Wind is said to be related to this organ. This is the way the Prana from Nature enters the body. Another manner that Prana enters the body is from the food that is ingested. It is via the Large Intestine that Ayurvda likens this to happen and where abdominal gas is generated and expelled from. Excess Wind affects the nerves and a person with excess Wind is said to be easily agitated by a cold wind.

The correct flow within the body is said to be mediated by the Element of Water. Water also carries with it Prana, which is the Element of flux. As the Kidneys are related to water metabolism within the body for elimination and conservation, it is associated with the Element of Water. Imbalances result in edema. The Urinary Bladder is the hollow organ that receives the urine and voids it to the outside. Thus the kidneys and Urinary Bladder are connected with the Element of Water. Water imbalances result in swelling, coughs with phlegm, bloating and low fevers.

The concept of Ether is more difficult to define. It is associated with the Liver and Gall Bladder and they are Pitta organs. Imbalances result in a bitter taste in the mouth and emotional agitation and lead to Vata symptoms.

Lastly, there is a concept in Ayurvedic Medicine of the creation, control and destruction of the Elements and related humors in a cyclic manner that account for life rhythms and the functional processes tied to them. This is primarily the result of Prana flowing through the Nadis and secondarily the flow of the humors through the Srotas.

The round of Creation: Prana injects the energy for the 5 lower nodal points (Elements) to function and with Ether generate Wind which generates Fire which generates Water which generates Earth which then with Prana again generates Ether to complete the cycle. The round of Destruction: Ether destroys Wind which in turn destroys Fire which in turn destroys Water which in turn destroys Earth which in turn destroys Ether to complete the cycle. The round of Control: The Earth dampens the action of Water which in turn dampens the action of Fire which in turn dampens the action of Wind which in turn dampens the action of Ether which in turn dampens the action of Earth to complete the cycle. The round of Support: the Wind gives it energy to Water which in turn gives its energy to Ether which in turn gives its energy to Fire which in turn gives its energy to Earth which in turn gives its energy to Wind to complete the cycle.

Any influence the alters the relative abundance or lack of Subtle Energy in any one Elemental node or Chakra will then have an affect on the other Elements. According to the schema of controlling, too much energy injected in an over-controlling manner will adversely affect the Element being controlled by unbalancing the energy there and causing illness according to an excess of the humor associated. If an Element becomes deficient in Subtle Energy, the other Elements in relationship with it tend to over-control or further destroy the weakened element. This again gives rise to deleterious humoral generation and their associated illnesses as a result.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

The concept of Yin and Yang in Chinese Philosophy is for all intents and purposes the same as that of Ayurvedic Philosophy and needs no further discussion. However, TCM goes a bit farther in describing the head as Yang and the hands and feet as Yin. Also, the back of the body is Yang and the front is Yin. The medial side of the body or any part is Yin and the lateral side is Yang. Lastly, the inside of the body in Yin and the outside is Yang.

The 5 Elements in TCM are said to refer to 5 categories in the natural world: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. (6) As stated above, Tsou Yen (c. 305-240 B.C.) introduced the idea of the 5 elements, their mutual generation and destruction. In TCM, the theory of the 5 elements was applied to generalize and explain the Zang-Fu organ systems of the body, their inter-relationships and the relationship between human beings and the natural world.

The concept of the 5 Elements was incorporated into Chinese Medicine without the mention of the Chakras or Humors. The movement of Qi or energy between each of the 5 Elements is the same as that of Ayurvedic Medicine. Fire is said to generate Earth. Earth in turn generated Metal, which in turn generates Water. Water then generates Wood, which in turn generates Fire and completing the cycle. The generation cycle of the Elements is known as the "Mother-Son" relationship. Each Element is the Son of the one that generated it and the Mother of the one it generates.

The Controlling Cycle is one of bringing under control or restraint. In the Controlling relationship, Wood acts on Earth, Earth acts on Water, Water acts on Fire, Fire acts on Metal and Metal in turn acts on Wood to complete the cycle.

The generating and controlling cycles are relationships that both oppose and cooperate with each other. Without the generation of energy, there can be no growth and development. Without control, there can be no balance and coordination during growth and development. Thus, it is the relative balance between generation and control that ensures normal metabolic activities. If there is an excess or deficiency of energy in any of the 5 Elements, there will be an abnormal generation and controlling influence. An Element with an excess of energy will over-promote in the generation cycle and over-control in the controlling cycle. The over-controlling condition is known as "Insulting".

The normal balance of the 5 Elements may be changed by improper diet, exogenous pathogens and emotional trauma. The Element and associated Zang-Fu organs will be directly affected and results in a disharmonious condition that will lead to illness. The nature of the imbalance will be reflected in the symptoms of the illness. The spread of disharmony and influence of the initial Element involved will follow the flow patterns according to the described cycles.

The Human Body-Field Project