By AFEA member Declan Rothwell
The Fire Element: Summertime and the livin' is easy
The Summer is associated with the Fire Element. The heat generated by summer helps us relax. One of the acupuncture points on the Fire Element is called ‘Relax and Joy’ – what a fantastic point to help someone who cannot experience that heat and the relaxing effect it has. With that relaxation comes a joy – giving us the ability to enjoy our friends and family; being outdoors and just enjoying life!
‘Palace of Weariness’ is another acupuncture point on the Heart Protector meridian/pathway. In ancient times in China, a messenger would bring the Emperor news from far away. This messenger would travel hundreds/thousands of miles to bring this message and would be weary/worn out on arrival. He would be brought into the Emperor’s Palace and he would be cared for and restored to health and balance with loving kindness and appreciation for his work. This point brings us into the very Palace that dissolves the Weariness – the Palace was the home of the Emperor in ancient times – the Emperor was equivalent to God – this point imbues us with a loving kindness, dissolving hurt and a feeling of being unloved; it restores our ability to love and be loved free of past experiences. What a point! Summer energy supports our capability to form relationships and have an easy flow in interaction – it helps us to feel warmed and enlivened by the interconnected web of relationships we have with our fellow human beings every day.
The Earth Element: Harvesting all that nourishes us
The ancient Chinese observed that the same energy that flows through nature flows through us. They saw that there were five phases of energy through the year that correspond to the five seasons – the ancient Chinese added an extra season – the time of harvest – Late Summer. These five phases also happen inside of us as the season changes – what is outside is inside.Late Summer is the time of the Harvest, the time for bringing in the crops, the time of reaping what has been sown during the year. The intense activity of summer is decreasing, life is slowing down again. Life seems “held” by mother Nature and there is security in the abundance of Nature’s bounty. All creatures are fed and nourished. The power of the Earth Element, the Power to Decrease, is manifest during the Late Summer as we settle into less activity as the days shorten.
The Metal Element: Let it go
Autumn is the season of balance. Life is now letting go, returning into the depths of the earth. Trees are losing their leaves, the sap is retreating into the roots, seeds are covered by earth and rotting vegetation. The spirit of the season is withdrawing, but not disappearing. The power of the Metal Element, the Power to Balance, is manifest in the Autumn. Life and Nature are returning to their essence, to their basic inherent quality. Our perspective becomes balanced when we can let go and take in appropriately. This will leave us fresh to be inspired, approaching with innocence the next moment of our lives.
The Water Element: Rest and Restore
Life starts with the Water Element.The flow and exchange of fluids in our mother’s womb create our life. Water forms 71% of the Earth’s surface. The human body is made up of 65% water. The brain is about 85% water. Without Water nothing could live or grow. There would be no movement and flow; no change and transformation without Water. Any of us who have been affected by drought or floods know the importance of Water. We can survive for weeks without food; we can only survive for days without water.
Cities build reservoirs to store Water for its inhabitants. A prudent farmer builds reservoirs and irrigation systems to save water when it is available. When the reserves run low or run out we begin to understand why the emotion associated with the Water element is Fear. Fear can be appropriate when it generates action within us to survive – even after the worst earthquakes and hurricanes people find the inner stamina and endurance to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives.
Now the ancient Chinese recognised that these external dynamics in nature occur inside of us through the Water Element. The Water Element plays just as important role in our body, mind and spirit.
On a physical level the Water Element governs and stores all the surplus and reserves of fluids in the body – tears/ saliva/ digestive juices/ sweat/ sexual secretions/ hormones/neurological fluids etc… When the Water Element is out of balance every single cell in the body is affected. If there is an excess we can become swollen and suffer from oedema. If there is insufficient Water our body overheats joints seize up and the natural flow of secretions/excretions stops etc…. We may live in the fast lane’ in our youth but as we get older the results of our abuse may result in utter exhaustion on all levels – a total depletion.
Our Minds can suffer similar problems when we experience an imbalance in the Water Element. We babble with nerves or become frigid and rigid in thinking. If there is no flow in thinking, dangers and an appropriate response to it become too huge to deal with. ‘Fight or Flight’ reactions start to become the norm and a person whose Water Element is out of balance may not be able to think about the future, the prospect is so enormous.
Similarly the Water Element gives our Spirits reserves of inner power will(Zhr) and determination to get through crises. The associated season of Winter is the hardest part of the year. It requires resolve to live through it whilst at the same time nature is preparing beneath the hard cold surface to provide for the coming surge of spring.
The Wood Element: Go for it!
Now as nature at present is starting to transition from winter to spring so we are transitioning. During the winter particularly this winter we did not look ahead but were concerned with staying warm and dry and conserving ourselves. Now as spring peeps out and nature plans the growth for the year, so we start to think about perhaps summer holidays and spring cleaning the house. Where we are reasonably in balance in body mind and spirit, this forceful energy drives us on and gives us the momentum to adapt to the new energy of the next season. In some people, this facility is blocked and as the seasons change they can’t change with it – it is AMAZING how many people knock on our door for help when they cant successfully transition to the next phase. People with imbalances in their Spring Energy – associated with the Wood Element – are coming knocking asking for help at this time – they don’t know about the flow of this energy but symptoms or internal frustration hits them and they can’t manage it themselves. Classical Five Element is wondrous in that it can go to the root of this and help the person transition smoothly from one season to the next.