According to Chinese Medicine our health and well-being are maintained when there is balance and harmony in body, mind, and spirit.
What does this mean to be balanced and in harmony?
There is a universal Life Force energy that is in everything around us and in us. We can see it in Nature, through the movement of the Seasons. In Chinese Medicine the energies of the seasons are described as The Five Elements.
Water is Winter, Wood is Spring, Fire is Summer, Earth is Late Summer, and Metal is Fall. We are connected to Nature, and the same energy of the Five Elements are expressed in us.
The Five Elements correspond to all the organs of the body:
Water: Bladder – Kidney
Wood: Gall bladder – Liver
Fire: Small intestines – Heart, Triple Burner function (thermostat) – Heart protector/pericardium
Earth: Stomach – Spleen
Metal: Large intestines – Lungs
In addition to the physical functioning of each organ, the Elements correspond to our mental and emotional levels, and the full range of emotions.
Emotions are an expression of our Life Force energy. When we are balanced, we can feel, express, and release our emotions. But when emotional energy becomes stuck or imbalanced it is harder to feel, express, and freely release emotions. We can feel mentally and emotionally stressed and out of balance.
These days there are many stresses, and it can be a daily challenge just to stay balanced. When we are in balance, we have resilience and flexibility to deal with daily ups and downs. What does balance look like?
Here are examples of how each Element supports our mental and emotional energy:
Water: appropriate fear – trust – faith – courage – reassurance
Wood: appropriate anger – direction, assertion – self-esteem – clarity – intention
Fire: joy – elation – spirit – relationship/ partnership – connection – open heart
Earth: sympathy – nurturing – understanding – groundedness
Metal: appropriate grief – self-worth – purpose – inspiration – acknowledgement – respect
But what happens when there are on-going stresses that challenge and drain our mental and emotional resilience? What does an imbalance look like?
Here are examples of mental and emotional expressions that may reflect an imbalance:
Water: constant fear – need for control – stress – anxiety
Wood: unresolved anger – frustration – indecision – irritability – depression
Fire: lack of connection – sadness – disconnection – bitterness – lack of joy – closed heart
Earth: obsessive worry – over-thinking – lack of sympathy – lack of nurturing
Metal: emptiness – low self-worth – pointlessness – unresolved grief
Imbalances that are not resolved can lead to mental or emotional conditions, or disease of the physical organs.
How can we address these imbalances?
When we feel out of balance at the mental or emotional level, the Five Elements can be a roadmap to guide us back to balance and harmony.
Are you feeling stressed, full of anxiety, or the need to control the unknown? Look to the gifts of the Water Element. Do you need faith, courage, and trust?
Are you feeling irritable, frustrated, or depressed? Look to the gifts of the Wood Element. Do you need direction, assertion, self-esteem, clarity, intention?
Are you feeling a lack of connection, sadness, or bitterness? Look to the gifts of the Fire Element. Do you need joy, partnership, connection, open heartedness?
Are you feeling worried, ungrounded, or a lack of nurturing? Look to the gifts of the Earth Element. Do you need sympathy, nurturing, understanding?
Are you feeling emptiness, a lack of purpose, or unending grief? Look to the gifts of the Metal Element. Do you need respect, inspiration, acknowledgement?
It’s important during these times we take care of our mental and emotional well-being. Take some time to reflect and explore your own mental and emotional energy.
Celebrate and feel gratitude for areas of harmony and balance. Acknowledge and accept any areas that may need support to stay in balance. Take some time to feel the Gifts of the Five Elements within you, and let them guide you, to help clarify what you may need for your on-going mental and emotional health and well-being.