The four balancing elements of Spring: Earth, Water, Air + Fire

Photo by Trevor Leyenhorst

Photo by Trevor Leyenhorst

  There are many age-old healing modalities that all share a common, “holistic”, thread—that the universe, its planetary systems, the Earth and our own bodies share a common oneness through energy that could generally be described such as: energy + atoms = matter.

 In many of these modalities the study of physiological and energetic characteristics of particular natural elements, seen as the building blocks of ourselves and our environment, illuminate a greater picture into the science of biology and healing. We see many different examples and viewpoints in the 5-Element Theory of Chinese Medicine or Polarity. In Ayurveda, a similar collection of elements are organized into three DOSHAS, each Dosha being comprised of two elements, each having a synergistic effect within its self and interactions with other Doshas.

 While each one has its own unique perspective, a (very) generalized frame of reference on some of the basic commonly agreed upon characteristics of the Elements as applied in medicine could be described as follows…

AIR [thought; the mind]
Wind energy ‘opens’ and moves things through the body; touch, sound and other kinetic stimuli bring electrical impulses from the brain down nervous system passageways bringing ‘awareness’ to those areas.

WATER [emotions]
Removes blockages, clearing the path it travels, often decreasing or moving one energy out or away so another energy may contain that space instead; all liquid, like blood or plasma, in the body is represented as water. It’s a medium the body uses to remove toxins, deliver oxygen, revitalize tissues and relieve or reduce cases of excess or insufficiency in temperature, pH, nutrients etc. A common example could be how lymphatic fluid moves toxins out of the body, or immersing the body in hot or cold water has an effect on increasing or decreasing circulation of the vascular system.

EARTH [body]
Earth energy ‘builds’ strength and structure where an area is too weak or damaged. Sometimes performed by administering plant ingredients to particular areas of the body to add nutrients and vitamins. We may also recommend building or strengthening parts of the body with exercise to protect that area.

FIRE [energy; spirit]
Ignites or ‘energizes’ an area that is dull, lifeless or lacking in oxygen; by adding or creating heat (a form of energy), increasing circulation, blood cells containing vital energy for the body’s molecular structure travel to cold, DE-oxygenated tissues and increases the energy available to those parts of the body. A dramatic example of ‘fire’ energy in medicine, beyond just increasing circulation through manual manipulation and movement of muscles, could be the practice in Chinese medicine known as ‘cupping’. There have been several adaptations into varieties of styles in terms of types of cups used and how they are administered to the body to create a ‘suction’ effect, creating what is essentially a myofascial release. There is however a traditional method that does in fact involve actual fire heating glass cups which NEVER burn the client’s skin but create a detoxifying effect and a deep release in the muscles and surrounding fascia.

Taking the above guidelines into account, one might use WATER to purify and renew themselves. You get a sort of renewal from this process; when the body’s natural flow of movement, energy absorption and exchange or use, and removal of wastes is unimpeded by blockages(congestion, weakness, damage) we find the human body far more adept at maintaining homeostatic conditions even when the environment is stressful.
In this way, water prolongs us, it gives us extra room for endurance or strength to continue and endure without drying up or cracking. The show really can’t go on without water!
We can also easily see what happens when anything is over-accumulated or used in excess.
 Too much air and ideas become may chaotic, in excess the mind seems clouded with thought. Too much heat exhausts and depletes energy rather than making us feel lively and revitalized. Too much earth and we are weighed down with congestion of organs or tissues, instead energy is exhausted trying to feed imbalances caused by blockages, accumulations, congestion, etc.
 In this way, too much water drowns or removes too many resources creating a more drying and aging affect than a moisturizing, renewing benefit. If there is a constant “washing away” of something with water, the area being overly cleansed often becomes weakened and may deteriorate, as energy and substance cannot build and create a ‘presence’ when they are constantly being removed.
So, when the onslaught of April’s showers seems to be flooding your flowerbeds, remember that the archetypes of Spring and nature shows us opportunity to bring out the ‘sun’ to give a new energy back to what the water has washed away.
 Light candles, sing or dance to your favourite song, do something that ignites your passionate side with someone who helps you to feel your emotions strongly. Rediscover where you’re most creative, what subjects do you seem to have a boundless amount of energy to talk about with others?
When waters flow, let them flow and don’t hold them back—but once the deluge has subsided or appears to ebb, allow some sunshine to trickle in; feed what has been washed away. Ask yourself what energy is needed to replace what once lived here and bloom into something special.