Understanding Our 5 Element Nature
One of the foundational concepts of Chinese Medicine is the 5 Element Theory. By way of this theory, a person can understand and categorize natural phenomena, health issues, behavior patterns, and relationships. Essentially, 5 Element Theory encourages a person to look to nature to understand themselves and others. The 5 Elements are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Each one comes with its own set of characteristics and attributes.
Wood holds the energy of growth, expansion, warming, multiplying. Its energy is found in the rising sun and the season of spring. In the body, it is the nervous system, responsible for growing and working constantly to sustain life. The energy of wood in the body resides in the liver and gallbladder. Thus, wood energy affects liver function, nerve function, ability to deal with toxins, ability to think clearly, and eyesight. In the mind, wood is observation, research, problem-solving, planning, strategizing and vigilant clarity.
Fire is bright, hot, consistent, substantial, loud, and obvious. It's energy manifests directionally in the south and in the season of summer. In the body, fire is found in the heart and small intestine. It governs the cardiovascular and endocrine systems. It houses our spirit and harmonizes our qi. Fire affects our ability to communicate with ourselves and with others. Fire brings our enjoyment in life, and guides us on our path of purpose.
Earth is. It is stillness, harmony, presence, nurturing, and support. It is the mid-point of balance, and therefore can be found in all places, and between each season. Earth energy's influence is at its peak during harvest season, a plentiful and fruitful time of peace and comfort. Earth energy holds and harmonizes everything, from the molecules in the body to the stars and planets of outer space. In the body, Earth is the flesh, and the digestive system. It affects metabolism, nutrient transport and absorption, and the beginning of the body's "composting" process.
Metal is everything that shrinks, retracts, freezes, conserves, and condenses. It's energy is alive in nature in the fall, and the western direction. It is present in the energy of perfecting, polishing, cutting, separating, and refining. Metal energy in the body is found in the skin and connective tissues or fascia. It is a connecting force between all the body's tissues. Metal energy resides in the lungs and is directed by the large intestine. Therefore, it affects our ability to breathe and to eliminate. It helps us discern what is needed from what is not.
Water is our essence. It is found in the energy of sinking, fluidity, softness, and dormancy. It is found in the northern direction, and the season of winter. Water energy is gentle and flowing, yet powerful. It provides no resistance, so nothing can resist it. Water energy is the power of creation and life-giving force. In the body, water holds our DNA, and manifests in the kidneys and bladder. It affects the health of our kidneys, bones, marrow, brain, urinary and reproductive systems. It also governs our ability to hear and listen. Water energy is found in dreams, instincts, hope, and foresight.
These elements are continuously interacting with each other on all levels. When one of these elements become energetically deficient or excessive, a certain set of symptoms will arise within the physical body. The more we understand the 5 Elements, the more we can understand our body's state of wellness/unwellness and adjust our lifestyle accordingly. This type of healing is subtle, natural, effective, and nourishing.
In the weeks to come, I will be writing a series of blog posts on different aspects of 5 Element living. Feel free to comment with questions or requests for new information, as this helps me share the content that will benefit you the most!