Five Element Theory is the relationship between the Bodymind (our thoughts and emotions) and all of nature. Gabor Mate, MD, in his book When the Body Says No – The Hidden Cost of Stress calls this process ‘psychoneuroimmunology’ or ‘the Mind body connection’. The seasons and climate changes affect both our body and psyche. Learning how to use our energy to understand and control stress frees us to move more fluidly through life. Stress is simply body energy that has become stuck. The more we cram into our lives the less flexible we are forced to become, causing body energy to take on a horizontal holding pattern. Shoulders and neck tension and low back pain are chronic in our fast moving culture and have become common holding patterns that many struggle with.
The Wood element is where the spark of new ideas begins. This could be a nudge or thought, flavored with a sense of desperation, "I’ve got to do something about the busyness of my life; I’ll get sick if I don’t.” Pause and notice; this one thought is the body nudge needed to begin.
In the Fire element, the spirit of our ideas begins to emerge and take form. A sense of longing or inspiration as our body speaks the need to start exercising, begin a meditation practice, some morning quiet time or simply REST. The voice of our quiet inner guidance needs to be heard. Carl Jung once said, "If your body gives you a nudge and you don’t listen it will give you a slap”.
Moving into the Earth element is where we nurture the idea. Action often begins here, as we look for ways to make these insightful changes happen. Worry is the body’s gift that shows us change needs to happen soon. Often illness or injury can become the turning point needed to initiate these positive changes. In the Metal element, we let go. We need to give up something to get something. It’s also the last stronghold where old ideas struggle to keep their ground, so there will be grief or a sense of loss with this process. At the same time our inner critic will be loud and obnoxious as ever.
The Water element is where dreams manifest, and our "will to become” is born. We see ourselves actually doing what we long for.
Starting with what can be let go of is easiest. Instantly changing everything causes more stress than we had to start with! A simple recipe for New Beginnings is to start with one small change at a time. It’s then bound together with a bulky supply of discipline, seasoned with new insights, inspiration from others and served with a healthy dose of self-induced gentleness. When we find ourselves spinning out of control again, take time to notice… pause…then follow the wise inner guide back home.