MQ Week Eight: Energy Character

Last week we looked at how different environments around us can have energy with different characteristics both physical and psychological.  This week we will look at some of the ways the different characteristics of the energy in out body are described in qigong.

One system of characterization commonly used in qigong is the five element system.  In this system all energies are classified into one of five natural types: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire.  Each type has its own distinct characteristics (Earth is heavy and solid, Wood is long and flexible, Fire is hot etc).  Different organs in the body are associated with each of the elements and different postures and types of movement stimulate the energy of each element as well.

Earth Spleen, Stomach
Metal Lungs, Large Intestine
Water Kidneys, Bladder
Wood Liver, Gall Bladder
Fire Heart, Small Intestine

Pericardium, Triple warmer


The five element system of characterization is on one level simple, and on another extremely complex, particularly when the many ways the different energies can interact are considered. This system will be discussed in greater detail in future Long White Cloud Qigong courses.

Animal Energy Character

Another type of energy character that is frequently used in qigong is that of animal energies.  There are many types of qigong that emulate the movements and characteristics of animals.  By taking on the shape and movement of an animal this causes a clear physical stimulus to our energy which is reinforced by the mental aspects of mimicking the animal.  For example different types of bird qigong exercises will often involve standing on one leg.  Imagining the lightness of a bird will help the body to align properly and use the muscle and other tissues in such a way that makes this balancing easier to do and gives more overall benefit to the exercise.  By using the symbolism of the animals quite complex energy characteristics can be developed easily.


Something else that shapes the character of our energy is complex ways is our emotions.  Emotions like love, anger, grief, excitement, fear, etc cause significant changes to the physical functioning of our bodies and therefore also cause significant changes to our energy as well.  (Note: Emotion is frequently categorized in the five element system, as are many other characteristics of energy such as colour, sound, taste, direction and so on. It can however be useful to split these off and consider them separately as they are here). When we practice qigong with different emotions it makes a big difference to the overall effect the practice has on us.  For this reason it is important to consider our emotions as we practice so that we can avoid any excessive emotion that may be harmful to us and encourage emotions that will benefit us.

Developing Your Own Energy Character

As you learn and work with different qigong practices, you will experience and become skilled with many different types of energy character.  This will help you to be well rounded and balanced in your energy.  As you try these different energy characters out, it is likely that you will find there are some that come to you more easily than others, or that just feel better and more natural to you.  Or alternatively there may be some that you find difficult, but that you really like once you achieve them.  Over time you may consciously choose several characteristics that you want to have strongly present in your energy at all times.  This begins to develop your own energy character.


Week Eight Homework:

  • This week during your qigong practice, experiment with taking on different types of energy character as you perform the qigong exercises you are already familiar with
  • You can experiment with taking on the character of each of the five elements (Water – cool, liquid and flowing, Fire – warm or hot, insubstantial and rising etc)
  • You can experiment with imagining you have the energy of different animals
  • You can try doing the qigong exercises with different emotions or attitudes for example you could try being serious, playful, filled with love, determined etc.  If any of these emotions make you feel bad, stop and try a different emotion
  • Make sure you note down your experiences in your practice journal