THE FIVE ELEMENTS
‘The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.’
– RALPH WALDO EMERSON
When we look at our personal connections with the five natural elements, it’s truly incredible to see how we are each so deeply connected to Mother Earth.
In Ayurveda and many other ancient schools of thought, it is believed that everything in and of our universe is made up of the five elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Space.
This includes each one us. We see the five elements in each of our bodies: there is Earth, in our bones and minerals. Fire, in the electricity and heat that we produce. Air constantly flows through us with each beautiful breath of life, as does water, in our fluids and our blood. Space or ‘Ether,’ is what contains all of the above, within us.
Understanding these elements can help us understand the laws of nature. It can also help us to better understand our true selves.
It is believed that if any element within us is impure or out of balance with the others, disease and suffering can occur.
So, to avoid this from happening, we must simply take the time each day to notice and cultivate these incredible elemental forces, within our bodies and minds.
Today, let’s start with the Earth element.
‘Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.’
– HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Earth: the first element. Stability, grounding and strength. Industriousness. Grit. Solid matter. Feminine energy.
The earth element is our foundation, our bodies and our survival. By cultivating earth energy we ground ourselves, allowing us to find a sense of place within our body, and the world.
Through building and maintaining a strong foundation of Earth within ourselves, we are fully supported as the other elemental energies later introduce movement.
Earth energy is the beginning. It is our roots.
To grow beautiful, healthy and tall, trees must grow sturdy roots which stretch deep into rich soil. We too must feel safe and supported, in order to grow.
Just as roots grow downward, the earth element is one of downward moving energy: down our spines, our legs and feet, down into our past and our ancestral roots.
By creating deep roots, a healthy body and a strong sense of self, we become grounded in ourselves, wherever our journeys may take us.
‘If nature is your teacher, your soul will awaken.’
The earth element represents the densest and heaviest form of matter, and it is ruled by gravity.
On our planet, we experience this as a downward pull.
But if we take a second to widen our perspective, we can see that gravity is actually drawing matter towards the earth’s core from all sides; gravity, in terms of the Earth element, is an inward pull toward the centre.
Weather it is walking bare foot, digging our fingers into the sand, or ground based asanas with deep slow breathing – Mother Earth encourages us to go inward and centre ourselves.
We become fully present by connecting to her through our senses, getting out of our heads and enhancing a deeper connection with our physical body… our vehicle for life.
‘Do not be afraid to suffer. Give your heaviness back to the weight of the earth.’
Imbalance within any of the elemental energies within us can manifest as either excess or deficiency. When they are aligned, our energy is balanced. When they are not… we can experience disease, stress and stagnation of negative emotions.
Thankfully, we are given the opportunity for deep healing when we acknowledge the elements and recognise whether or not we are in touch with these fundamental energies.
A disconnection with the Earth element means we are not fully present within the body, causing a sense of being out of touch with the physical and natural world.
Without Earth energy, we cannot develop the support, containment, or solidity for our own needs. For me, this most often manifests as feeling spacey or scattered. We might also move towards patterns like irrational fear, poor personal boundaries or an inability to focus.
It is so important that we incorporate the work of deep grounding with the earth element, as part of our everyday lives.
EARTH ELEMENT PRACTICE
‘Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.’
– THAT NICH HANH
There are many ways to ground and connect with the Earth element. It can be as simple as focusing your attention on the heaviness of your body weighing on Mother Earth, feeling how you are always totally supported by her.
In yoga, by connecting the body and mind through movement and breath, we allow ourselves to purify these elements, restore balance, and to unfold the inner powers and abilities present within each element.
We have recently posted an Element Series yoga class on YouTube, focused on the element of Earth.
If you are feeling disconnected or if any of the above resonated, I deeply encourage you to try this class. It is all about connecting to our deeper selves, with gentle movement and grounding postures to help you find that stability, balance and peacefulness of the mind… as you surrender to the gravity of our beautiful Mother Earth.
Anodea Judith & Selene Vega, ‘The sevenfold journey reclaiming mind, body & spirit through the chakras,’ (New York, Crossing Press, 1993).