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Throughout the ages, the experience of healers and sages is that underlying the apparent phenomenal world is a more refined realm of energy and creation; this is the realm of the 5 elements. These elements both stand alone as well as mix and blend with each other to create subtle effect.
As those before us did so long ago, so too can we today follow the guidelines of 5 elements healing. We can use these elements – earth, water, fire, air and sky – in our approach to health and healing. Together the 5 elements, in varying degrees, constitute the essence of every living being. Each of the elements represents a different kind of energy and impacts on us in different ways. Each element, too, has a specific universal lesson that it can teach us.
- Earth is the element of matter, representing grounding and stability. Earth is the most nourishing as well as balancing of the elements. From earth, we can learn how to nurture. Mother Earth never ceases to share with us her generosity, her valuable minerals and food. On the most literal level, earth lends us her support. On the more subtle and energetic level, it is the most nurturing and nourishing of the elements. And like earth, we can be either verdant and life-giving, or we can become barren and arid.
- Water is the element of bonding, representing our emotional and sexual selves. Water it is the most restorative as well as refreshing of the elements. From water, which is flowing and progressive, we can learn to move forward and grow emotionally. On the most literal level, water hydrates us and feeds all of the fluid systems in our body. On the more subtle and energetic level, it is the most restorative of the elements. And like water, we can be either gentle and soft or we can become ferocious and thunderous.
- Fire is the element of thermodynamics, representing power and intensity. Fire is the most invigorating as well as detoxifying of the elements. From fire, which gives warmth, heat and light, we can learn to see clearly; our insight gives us untold power. On the most literal level, fire provides us with heat and light. On the more subtle and energetic level, it is the most invigorating as well as detoxifying of the elements. And like fire, we can be soft and flickering or we can become scorching and frightening.
- Air is the element of kinesis, representing love and life. Air is the most cleansing as well as rejuvenating of the elements. From air, which is imperceptible and constantly moves, we can learn to be subtle and unattached. On the most literal level, air gives us prana, breath, the essential life force. On the more subtle and energetic level, it is the most cleansing and rejuvenating of the elements. And like air, we can be crisp and clean or we can become stifling and stagnant.
- Sky is the element of space, representing transcendence and hope. Sky is the most purifying as well as uplifting of the elements. From sky, which seemingly changes constantly but in truth is always the same, we can learn to live from our soul, the deepest part of ourselves that represents truth and is eternal. On the most literal level, its vastness — beyond human imagination — receives the universe. On the more subtle and energetic level, it is the most purifying as well as uplifting of the elements. And like the sky, we can be radiant and glorious or we can become stormy and menacing.
From observing all of the elements, we can learn the profound interdependence of all things. We understand that earth is a synergistic combining of all the elements. We understand that the sun represents the fire element, but the sun is comprised of gases and thus has a close connection to the air element. We understand that the water element is closely connected with the sky element, as water reflects sky. We understand that earth and water comprise the basic material of our planet and that these have the umbrella of air. We understand that sky both surrounds all the elements and contains all the elements.
We can learn from our teachers, the five elements, how to live as a human being in harmony with nature, abiding by the cycles of the sun and moon on this, our Mother Earth, sharing her air and her water as part of the infinite cosmos.