3 Reasons to Explore the Elements to Understand Yourself
Connecting to nature requires an understanding of the elements. Each person has their own relationship with the elements and it's qualities or ghunas in Sanskrit. Traditional forms of wisdom use the elements to relate our bodies to the environment around us for a greater connection with life.
To understand one's own relationship with each element is to understand your own constitution and how your environment affects you. I am no expert in any of these traditions, but my understanding has been enhanced by each in a different way as I travel. Exploring all schools of thought enlightens a different aspect of myself and my connection with nature. I encourage you to do the same. Below is a summary of three approaches and what key benefit I have found for each element.
Thousands of years old, with varying traditions across different cultures this is a less cohesive system as Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine below. It is hard to categorise the relationship in such a simple summary as this, but there is an essence from Peruvian, Australian, Ecuadorian and Hawaiian Shamans that I have learnt.
Shamanism conceives that humans are made of the same stuff as all that is around us i.e. the elements and Western science supports this. This inner reflection of the outer world nourishes us if respected and worked with. To understand the elements as expressed within you is to understand yourself.
The approach is to consciously connect with the elements as they are within you and explore their expressions. When you connect with your inner elements then you become more aware of your instincts and primal self - what you value at a core level and will express you at your best.
You can use the elements to heal you too. With clear intention, you can go for a swim to clear something negative or work your hands into the earth to feel grounded in your space. I have loved this approach to establish my daily routines whilst moving into different spaces frequently.
REASON 1: CONNECT TO ALL THE ELEMENTS WITHIN YOU TO UNCOVER YOUR BEST SELF AND HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR EQUILIBRIUM.
For thousands of years, this type of medicine has treated humans based on the principles that the body and mind are inextricably linked and that the mind can heal the body. Ayurveda brings together the five elements: earth, wind, fire, air and water into three constitution types called Doshas, that make us characteristics of a person's physical and mental/emotional body.
Each Dosha expresses particular dominant elements. This makeup effects what lifestyle habits, diet, sleep, work tendencies, exercise and other activities are best for a person. It can help to understand you type so that you can make choices that best support your constitution. You can take a quick quiz to find out what your dosha type is and find out how it affects you.
In Ayurveda, there are 3 doshas of the 5 elements. Each dosha is a combination of elements that can create a different quality depending upon how 'in balance' the person is in that given moment.
- Kapha = water + earth
- Pitta = fire + water
- Vatta = air + space
We are all a mixture of all of the elements, but you might find that you are more predominant in one than another at different times in your life too. For example, in the 20s-40s there is a tendency for more 'pitta' (firey) behaviour to be exhibited as this is the 'who you are' phase of life that is led by the inner fire of goals. If you are already a pitta dominant character then you will be a strong force at this time in your life.
Ayurveda can be a helpful guide to understand and support your physical, emotional, mental and behavioural tendencies. It can provide a guide of actions to bring you back into balance. Scientific evidence to support Ayurveda as a scientifically proven medicinal treatment is still being built and is not deemed to be relied upon yet for serious medical conditions.
REASON 2: UNDERSTAND YOU BALANCE OF THE ELEMENTS SO THAT YOU CAN ADAPT YOUR LIFE TO THE BEST CARE FOR YOU, AND LIVE YOUR LIFE WITH THE MOST HEALTH, JOY AND WELLBEING.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Thousands of years old and science is beginning to establish that this form of medicine is to be taken seriously. Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective and that meridian lines are a vascular system within the body.
The elements in TCM are wood, metal, fire, water and earth. Each element has a specific energy and attracts certain qualities. Everyone has a bit of all 5 elements within them but they may be more dominant in specific elements than others. This is similar to Auryveda but at this point, you tend to stay in your predominant element type.
- Wood = lean, graceful, adventurous and love novelty and movement. Often a strong sense of purpose (can be called wind).
- Fire = passionate, charismatic, infectious enthusiasm and can be emotional.
- Earth = nurturing, thick-set, work with their hands, compassionate and empathetic.
- Metal = brave, organized, self-disciplined, and muscular. Good problem solvers, creative and detail-oriented (can be called air)
- Water = go with the flow and get things done. Self-contained and adaptable, they can be introspective.
The seasons greatly affect each constitution, and it helps to be mindful of what lifestyle modifications should be taken by the surrounding environment. These cycles occur hourly, daily, monthly and seasonally that respect the constantly moving nature of the individual and external worlds.
Further, the organs within the body are given these elemental characteristics, that affect the inter-organ relationships. It is here that the flow of energy in meridians can show imbalances, and how acupuncture can improve symptoms.
REASON 3: AWARENESS OF YOUR PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT IS VITAL TO BALANCE YOUR INNER WORLD. CONNECT OUTWARDS TO KNOW HOW TO RESPOND INTERNALLY.
Moods and Shifts
There is an obvious overlap between the traditions as humans share common perceptions of the elements. These differing wisdoms have developed through observation and intuitive understanding of nature through experiential lessons. Intuit your own understanding of the elements and how they affect you for your own growth.
Elements have shown me that I am affected by my surroundings. Not just hot and cold, but that when I am in the dense jungle I feel more connected to life and when around water I notice I am more open to flowing with situations as they arise. It is natural to be affected by your external world, but it is how to adapt internally that is the trick to master!
Contact me for more information on how to master your moods by working with the elements.