Along the way, you will find that the four element way of thinking leads to a more natural way of living. Your lifestyle will become more natural as you see the importance of noticing four parts of our human condition, and how each of those four relate to one of “the four elements of Nature”.
As we seek to gain back our health, to have more energy and vitality, to even live a more interesting and inspiring life, it is useful to start from the bottom of the four elements, and work our way up.
And so we let us begin with “Earth” – as an element of Nature for you to respect, as a principle for you to draw upon for your health, as even a value so that you might live a more noble, higher value life.
Nature’s Earth Element
Earth as an element of Nature is best envisioned not exactly as this planet, but as the terra firma, the solid ground, under your feet. This Earth element gives physical solidity, structural integrity to everything that exists.
Importantly, each of the four elements of Nature/principles of Creation, have been shown to manifest in our body as a type of body tissue. Can you see how bones relate to the Earth element? Bones are solid, like earth.
On a more general physiological level, the Earth Principle gives your body its quotient of “sturdiness”. Bones and even organs are made sturdy by strong fibers born from the Earth Principle’s power to build physical sturdiness.
On the mental side of our wellness, the Earth Principle gives us our practicality. It pushes us to look at the here and now of our mundane, physical life. If left to itself as an ideal in our life, too much Earth would make us an inert, stuck in the mud, perhaps overly consumptive and materialistic, maybe a never-can-get-enough kind of person. But again, in the right proportion, it gives us our mental sturdiness and stability – keeping us from fracturing under pressure, or stress.
On the spiritual side of our wellness, the Earth Principle gives us the gift of manifestation. Without this Earth Principle our goals would never have a chance to be realized – to become physically real. Without this Earth Principle, “Spiritual Oneness” would not have been be able to reach its own goal – to become densely physical and diverse. The solid, physical, diverse state of our universe attests to the fact that such a primal goal of Creation has been realized.
So what does the Earth Principle have to say about our health and wellness – how does it get strengthened within us? It tells us to:
- 1. Be physically active – not just mentally, or with just your fingers on a keyboard.
- 2. Do mundane things, with your hands and feet – particularly activities that have those parts of you pressing into hard objects. Remember, earth is hard, solid, dense – this aspect of us gets strengthened as we engage objects that are hard and solid.
- 3. Respect the power of alignment. Alignment of bone (and other tissues) is a higher level aspect of this Earth Principle.
- 4. Complete your tasks. The Earth Principle is about physical manifestation, about getting things done. The Earth Principle doesn’t look for diversions from its appointed job; it wants to accomplish something because it knows that nothing is as important as getting something physically done.
- 5. Maintain the physical spaces of your life.
Earth Element Action Steps:
Each day walk – preferably outside. 2 article links on walking/ Heel strike
Each day clean the dishes, putter somewhere, avoid sitting in front of a tv.
Every day, do a 4 Element Yoga maneuver, or some type of isometric exercise, that will focus you upon the Earth Principle
Each day, work on developing/maintaining a routine – a physical routine that is practical and works to help you built positive momentum.
Each day, meditate on accomplishment and success.
On a regular basis, go to a chiropractor or some other body worker, who focuses upon alignment. Even without going to a practitioner that focuses upon alignment, there are important things that you can do. Most of those things begin with being conscious of your feet while you are walking.
On a regular basis, clean up your messes. The Earth Principle pushes things to clump together. Over time this can generate the messes, the disorder, those places in our lives where we have our piles of this or that. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves at a particular stuck moment in our life is to clean up those cluttered physical, earth element places.
This cleaning up of those places in our life where clutter has accumulated actually renews the Earth Principle within our life. Though the Earth Principle might be responsible for ever-growing clumps of clutter, by getting in there and reorganizing an area, that physical place in your life – that Earth element-imbued part of your life – is renewed, ready to get back to functioning well for you. You might want to learn Fen Shui, which is a Chinese philosophy/science involving the way the placement of things in our physical world (our homes…) affect the energy of it.
Nature’s Water Element
The Water element of Nature is the inter-connective force acting on all of life. This interconnectedness makes it responsible for the cycles of life. One of the main ways this inter-connective force manifests is through our need for nourishment, and the food cycle.
We are all dependent upon connecting to something outside our self for our nutrient nourishment. This nourishment is circulated by the blood. The Water element, in this way, is that giving river of nourishment. It is not hard to see our blood as the expression of the Water element within us.
It is useful to recognize that originally for life (and for today’s amoeba), all the needed nutrients came in with the water that immersed it. As life got bigger, it needed canals, and then blood vessels, to distribute that nutrient-rich water; and organs to digest the material that came in through its mouth. Even an immune system to keep those canals free of invaders, a heart to pump those nourished waters (our blood), even lungs developed once life came onto land.
Can you see how all your organs are an embellishment of this Water element of Nature – in its aim of nourishing life’s cells with all the needed nutrients?
In many ways, this Water element dimension of health is the one most of us associate with what gives us our health. Indeed the fact that we focus so much upon drugs and nutritional supports are a testament to the capacity of this Water element of Nature to give us so much of what we need for health.
Even as the Council spends great effort bringing the healing power of the three other elements to your attention – generally because the others are much less appreciated by all of us – this Water Principle has the widest range of ways that it gives something to our health and wellness.
We will be exploring these shortly.
On the mental side of our wellness, the Water Principle gives us our sense of belonging, of having a connection to others. It begins within us as the umbilical cord to our mother, it grows as the bonds we have as members of a family. It continues (sometimes sensed as confining) within the blood lines of tribes, as the tight knit of certain old towns and villages. It is especially exalted in the ethnic lineages and religious traditions of humankind. And further, within each of us, this Water Principle is exulted in the personal passion we each live out from time to time.
The Water Principle pushes us to feel our passions. We all enjoy having passion. When you say you want more energy, in a real way you are saying you want more passion to energize you. It is hard to have this passion when you didn’t sleep well, or are stressed out about this or that. And too, if you don’t respect the Water Principle enough to give the blood – via your choice in foods you ate – the energies of Life, you also will not be able to sustain your passions, your energies.
The Water Principle exists then as our blood; it carries within it the energies of Creation stepped down so that it might be used within us today by our various body physiologies. This Water and our blood is the medium through which our level of passion vibrates to each cell of the body.
Yes, it is fair to say that Life’s energies manifest more in natural foods than factory-produced ones. And that they affect our mental state, our ability to be passionate, energetic, vibrant with our life.
On the spiritual side of our wellness, the Water Principle gives us our capacity to feel purpose and meaning. How it does this is by helping you to see the relation between this principle and “whyness”.
Part of the power of Four Element Thinking is that it is able to use the four element pattern as a rubric, a Rosetta Stone, to figure more of how the human body works, how the universe works. While the Earth Principle – with its focus upon physical place – resonates with “where”, as you delve into the 4 element way of thinking, you’ll find ample reasons to see how Water relates to “whyness”. As you strengthen the power of the Water Principle within you, there will be a concurrent increase in both passion and a feeling of purpose.
So what does the Water Principle say about our health and wellness? It tells us to:
- 1. Eat more natural foods. Natural foods vibrate with the energies of life in much more significant ways than processed foods.
- 2. Feel yourself as part of a lineage, with you poised to shine with a special style – your unique way of balancing things – that is just your own.
- 3. Feel your connectedness to Nature
As part of your Natural Way Back to Wellness program, here is what you can do relative to the Water element multiple times a week:
Water Element Action Steps:
Each week, remove something that is processed in your diet. Start reading ingredients; look out for artificial colors in particular, and bleached flour. A link from here will discuss this topic.
Each day spend a few moments feeling things a bit more sensually with that watery flesh of your thumbs. We are meant to have an everyday sensuality that is based upon the Water Principle’s desire for connectedness. The watery flesh of our fingers, especially the thumbs, give us the particular capacity to connect to the world. Pleasure, as you may learn at another time, is a Water Principle function – as it connects you to your needs in a fulfilling way.
Each day, use some herbs to make tea. I recommend something with a bit of a bite, something with a little bitterness, not something sweet. If you drink coffee, realize that it is America’s “national herb”. Appreciate and respect its biochemical/ herbal principles.
Each day, create a mystical moment with Nature. The Water Principle is responsible for giving us mystical moments. It is very important to try to feel Nature in a mystical way – to feel its four energies, or principles, can be very useful for this purpose. If you are connected to a religious or ethnic tradition, find some ritual or mystical ways to connect to it in a deeper way.
Nature’s Air Element
Air as an element of Nature is best envisioned as more than the air that we breathe, it is the space that we move through. We move through it so easily that we have little reason to think of it as a “principle” of Creation. But imagine if that Air Principle, that space between you and another person were shrunk by a half – you would feel too close to someone; your elbow-room would be squeezed down.
4 Element Thinking helps us to see this space as something which everything needs to exist. More practically, we each need our elbow-room to feel empowered. The Air Principle is about this elbow-room that we each need for our self-empowerment. The Chinese call this vibrating energy occupying the space within our body, or even the space within an individual organ, “chi”.
When that chi is weak, visualize it as there being a lack of this elbow-room. Without that chi, without that Air Principle, cells, organ tissues, the various constituent parts of the whole body are not vibrating with enough oomph – that needed elbow-room between cells or organs is lost. As those parts within you “collapse inwardly”, they will become less empowered to do their job; you will lack the vim and vigor that comes with having abundant chi. Not only will you begin feeling unempowered; over time you will become ever more weakened as you lose your capacity to draw in this “Air Principle” of life.
On the bodily side of this Air Principle, can you see how your muscles manifest the Air Principle within you; how muscles are in fact the Air element within each of us? It takes those muscles to create that elbow-room. It is our muscles that gives us the capacity to be empowered in this world. As it turns out, breathing – which brings this element of Nature within us – and gives us that vital oxygen we need for our empowerment, requires a multitude of muscles to be used.
On the mental side of our wellness, the Air Principle gives us our intellectual capacity. In a sense, while muscles give us physical empowerment, our intellect gives our mind its empowerment. We become empowered as we learn. While the Water Principle draws out the whyness of living, this Air Principle draws out an understanding of how the world works. This principle makes life more interesting to each of us. Further, it helps us develop effective strategies on how we can best live our life.
On the spiritual end of wellness, the Air Principle gives us the capacity to feel the positive uplift of Creation. While the Water Principle can draw us downward with its focus upon the fleshy watery meaning of life, the Air Principle tends to draw us upwardly to a higher perspective. How it does so is by helping us discern all those yin:yang opposites that exist in the world around us. The more we can see all those opposites, the more we can gain the wisdom that comes from balancing them well.
What does the Air Principle say about our wellness? It tells us to:
- 1. Always be open to learning new things.
- 2. Be physically active because that gets your muscles used, yielding more self-empowerment.
- 3. Look for what needs to be in balance in your life.
Air Element Action Steps:
Instead of reading negative things, focus more on reading positive, upbeat articles. While there are surely ups and downs in life, there is a natural buoyancy to life that is meant to lift you upwardly in a positive direction. There is an energy to life – what we think about we will draw more easily into our life.
Instead of watching foolish, mind-stupefying things on TV or online; instead of reading celebrity gossip magazines and the like, put your mind toward absorbing intellectually stimulating things. There are so many interesting things to learn: the science of this, the history of that, how something is made, the way a certain animal, ecosystem, culture, nation has developed its character.
If you are not into learning intellectually stimulating things, learn a new skill. There is a positive, upward force that we feel when we take to learning new things. We ignore that force at our peril; and we age prematurely.
Find time each day to turn on your muscles, to move with more oomph. It appears different muscles activate different acupuncture circuits, which give us that “chi”, we need for our self-empowerment. Whether it be doing pushups, aerobic work-out, a sport, or my own 4 Element Yoga, life is about using muscles to keep us empowered.
Nature’s Fire Element
Fire as an element of Nature exists as the sun. We in Syracuse can especially feel the positive power of this Fire element, our sun, during the cold winter months, or after a spate of cloudy, dismal weather. The sun, like the Fire Principle of Creation, speaks of that positive-most, inspired-most, energetic most power of Life.
The Fire Principle gives spiritual idealism; it sparks the highest ideals and energies within us. That is why we feel so good when the sun comes out and shines upon us on those colder days. We in the north are naturally more sensitive to the positive power of this Fire Principle as it radiates out from our sun.
Within our body, the Fire Principle manifests as that tissue which has the least of physicality, our nerves. Nerves organize the rest of the body with its electrical forces. Nerves convey consciousness, which is that spark of spiritual energy within each of us. While our bones give us sturdiness, our organs and blood give us vitality, our muscles give us empowerment, nerves give us consciousness.
On the mental side of our wellness, the Fire Principle gives us our idealism. It gives us our capacity to envision a set of higher goals for our self. It pushes us to look beyond the here and now, to a future that is yet better. A person with a lot of Fire energy can be a visionary, tapping into the higher spiritual ideals of humankind. Unfortunately, out of balance with the other principles it can lead one to become depleted and even depressed as the here and now world around them may not line up around that idealistic notion.
On the spiritual side of our wellness, the Fire Principle gives us the ability to feel the most positive, spiritual energies present in the world around us. Further, it gives us our capacity to be creative. We are able to feel the “oneness” of Creation, the oneness of every moment we are part of – and the creative power we have to make it better.
As far as our health and wellness, the Fire Principle tells us:
- 1. Meditate – which will at the very least, calm the nervous system down.
- 2. Feel your ideals.
- 3. Feel yourself as part of a greater whole, a larger “oneness”, in which you have a job to do – whether it be as a mom, a professional service you provide, as an individual in this world who is trying to make it a better place.
Fire Element Action Steps:
Each day meditate for 5 to 50 minutes. It can be as easy as just counting your breath – which will naturally slow it down. This will calm your nervous system down, which will lower your stress level
Each day show some kindness (even heart) to someone who you have to struggle to be that way with. We are each here to be challenged to do good. Being kind can change the whole energy of the world around you in a good way. We are each here to bring the good out in each other; if you look for the good in people you will more easily find it.
Each day find a way to express a positive idealism to the world outside you. It could be that you are focusing upon the importance of the environment, or of your child’s development, the civic dimension of your life, peace, a cause that you feel is noble. As you do, try to avoid conspiratory, or an us vs. them kind of thinking.
Each day spend time focused upon, better yet – envisioning – a goal you have. Envision that goal, how it will help you to feel fulfilled, how it might even help make the world around you better.
At least once a week, find time to do something creative. Art, music, gardening, a craft, writing, inventing. We each have a creative spark in us that in some way connects us to the divine.