The 5 Elements
Over centuries, the Chinese have observed nature in order to better understand natural laws and thus apply these laws to better understanding the human condition.
Just as flowers are born in the Spring and the Earth wakes up from a long winter slumber, the power to give birth and to have rapid growth is found in the Wood Element. To understand what an amazing power this is, one only need trace the birth of a flower to the insect that pollinates it to begin to understand that once born, this flower is part of a much larger circle of life. The Wood element helps us give birth to ideas, thoughts, and emotion and is where we get our creative genius from. In the body, Wood is manifested in the Liver and Gall Bladder. Involved in planning and decision-making, the Liver and Gall bladder give us our gifts of vision, foresight, and planning.
As the accelerated growth of the tree’s leaves in spring leads to a canopy from which all can take shelter in summer, the directed movement of Wood gives rise to a time of celebration in Fire. It is a time to stop doing so much and start “being” more and a time to connect with others. Fire is about love and is found in the Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium, and a functionary- the Triple Heater, all of which, express love collectively for the Fire Element in their own unique way. The heart gives us the ability to love. The Small Intestine, just as it sorts pure from impure in the body, sorts whom we should love for the Heart. The Small Intestine decides whom we should let in to our most precious inner world. The Pericardium controls how we love and the Triple Heater is the bodies’ thermostat, responsible for creating harmony, or not, with love.
As the fruits begin to ripen on the trees and the bright fiery days of summer turn softer and light is more yellow, the flowers begin to look drab as these are the first signs of decline. There is a sweetness in the air during Earth; a time to rejoice in the fullness and take in the nourishment that is abound. It is important to take in this nourishment as it will be a long way to make it through Autumn and Winter. In the body the Stomach and Spleen are the Earth Element. The Stomach is all about processing, digestion, and analysis. The Spleen is responsible for transportation and thought. As we take in the nutrients from our food, we need to break them down and take them where they need to go. The Stomach and Spleen do this for us on all levels. They work closely together digesting, everything from our food, to our thoughts, to our emotions.
In the autumn the hint at the decline that was first felt in late summer has now turned into rapid loss. It is the time to let go of any and all burdens no longer necessary. There is a special feeling at this time, one of quality not quantity. This can be seen in the beautiful colors of the leaves on the tree, or that certain quality of light only found at this time of year. The Lung and Colon exemplify this time and so too the Metal Element as the Lung is how we take in and the Colon is how we let go. The Lungs take in only the fine pure things that we need and the Colon is responsible for eliminating all that is no longer necessary for us.
In winter the trees are stripped of leaves, animals hibernate, and people stay inside more. There is still life but it is found in the interior. If we consider the power of a seed with all of its energy and entire blueprint for life inside waiting patiently to be born, we may begin to understand the power of the Water Element. The Bladder and Kidney are uniquely tied to the Water Element. Similar to a seed in many ways, the Kidney holds the DNA and our blueprint for life. The Kidney gives us the gifts of ambition, will, and drive. It is how we connect to our ancestors and to the unique thread that binds all things in the universe. Just as a reservoir on earth holds the water reserves for the planet, the Bladder holds the reserves for the body and controls when and how we use them.
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