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If you’re a science buff, you’ll know there are many different elements, 118 to be exact. However, according to the Five Elements Theory, which derives from Chinese and Indian philosophies, five elements make up the entire world.
Each of the five elements represents something different and governs different structures in our bodies. Therefore, by learning about these elements and their relationship with us, you can find ancient techniques to restore health and well-being. So let’s explore the five elements theory further.
- 1 What Are The Five Basic Elements?
- 2 Signs Of An Element Imbalance In Your Life
- 3 How To Balance The Five Elements
- 4 Final Thoughts On The 5 Elements Of Life
What Are The Five Basic Elements?
The five-element theory in traditional Chinese medicine is the belief that everything in nature comprises five basic elements; earth, fire, water, air, and space.
The five-element theory states that everything in the universe, from the smallest atom to the largest animal to each planet, contains a unique combination of these five elements. It also means that we humans are made up of these elements, each of which is responsible for different structures in the body.
Aside from traditional Chinese medicine, the five elements are used in Ayurveda and other traditional Indian medicine, Yin Yoga, and yoga therapy. Thus, many philosophies believe that achieving equilibrium among all 5 elements of life can improve your health and happiness and increase your life span.
This element is grounding, nurturing, and stabilizing. When you think of the earth, you most likely imagine soil and grass. However, the earth forms solid structures beyond this, including giving structure and form to the human body.
In our bodies, the earth element governs all solid structures, such as our teeth, nails, bones, muscles, skin, tissues, and hair. Thus, when this energy is in balance, we feel strong and full of vitality.
Fire is a source of heat and power in the physical world and within us. It is a purifying and cleansing element that can dispel toxins and impurities. It gives energy and vitality to all living things and activates the intimate drive in humans and animals.
Because of its ability to purify and destroy, fire is worshipped in many spiritual traditions and featured in Tantric rituals. Within the human body, fire forms hunger, thirst, and sleep and increases our metabolism (known as our digestive fire or Agni). It also boosts creativity and can increase feelings of confidence, enthusiasm, and courage, as it is linked to the Manipura chakra.
Water is flowing, adaptable, nourishing, and healing and is responsible for creating everything liquid in the universe. In nature, water flows to low places forming rivers and lakes. Here it gathers its power and nurtures life.
Water forms saliva, blood, sweat, and urine. In the body, it is responsible for regulating the blood and keeping the joints lubricated and mobile. The water element also has introspective qualities and is associated with feminine qualities and yin energy.
Air is the vital energy that surrounds us, constantly circulating and keeping all living things alive. It governs all forms of movement, including expansion, contraction, vibration, and suppression. In nature, the air is a mixture of different gases. The atmosphere consists of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and small amounts of other elements.
In the body, air is our oxygen, which is responsible for breathing and is known as our life force (or Qi). It regulates all bodily functions and builds cells. In the psyche, it is associated with communication, change, and transformation.
Space, also called ether, is the container of all other elements and the most subtle. It is believed that space is what all other elements originate from and return to. The space element is present in all cells in the body and nourishes the nostrils, mouth, ears, throat, lungs, and stomach.
The Space element is associated with the higher chakras and spirituality. It is linked to inner wisdom, intuition, psychic abilities, and higher spiritual experiences.
Signs Of An Element Imbalance In Your Life
Out of the five elements, the ideal constitution in the human body should be 72% water, 12% earth, 6% air, 4% fire, and the rest Space. However, this constitution can change due to several factors, creating an excess or a deficiency of one element.
Some people can also have dominant elements, which can be determined by their zodiac sign. For example, if you tend to have an excess of fire, you’re likely a fire personality. The balance of the elements determines many things, such as our health and well-being. So what are the signs of an imbalance?
Water personalities and imbalance signs
Water personalities are emotional, sensitive, reflective, and gentle. However, too much water in the body can result in mood swings, excess mucus, frequent colds, and sinusitis. Other signs of a water imbalance include swelling of glands, blood thinning, or blood clotting.
If you lack water in your body, you may experience dry joints and a lack of mobility. In addition, weak knees, lower back pain, bladder problems are urinary incontinence can also be signs of a water element deficiency.
Earth personalities and imbalance signs
Earth personalities are nurturing, generous, peaceful, and caring. They have a tendency towards introversion and act in an honest, trustworthy, and diligent way. However, they may feel anxious, insecure, and threatened when out of balance. Excess earth energy may result in stubbornness.
Physical signs of an earth imbalance include muscular fatigue and weakness, lack of calcium or brittle bones, high cholesterol, and muscular diseases. Earth element imbalances can also affect a person’s weight, manifesting as either weight gain or weight loss.
Fire personalities and imbalance signs
Fire personalities are passionate, creative, and authoritative. However, an excess of this element can cause them to become impulsive, irritable, angry, or hateful. They can also have insomnia, high blood pressure, chest pains, diabetes, or headaches.
Excess fire means increased heat in the body. It relates to fever, inflammation and skin diseases, excessive sweating, hyper-acidity, and excess toxins in the body. However, a person with a fire deficiency will likely have a low body temperature. Fire imbalances also affect the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Air personalities and imbalance signs
Air personalities are excellent communicators who appear positive and inspiring to others. They are adaptable, open-minded, tolerant, and non-judgmental. However, as air people seek mental stimulation, air in excess can lead to physical and psychological exhaustion. Moreover, too much air can result in scattered thoughts, confusion, and insomnia.
Physical signs of excess air include skin dryness, lung disorders, lingering dry cough, bloating, constipation, or muscle spasms. In addition, people with a deficiency may experience shortness of breath or other breathing difficulties, tightness in the chest, inability to express themselves, lethargy, or depression. An air imbalance can also affect blood pressure.
Space personalities and imbalance signs
A person with dominant ether will be intuitive, have a great imagination, and will dream big. They will also possess strong self-awareness and wisdom.
However, when unbalanced, they may experience issues with communication or speech disorders, Thyroid disorders or other throat problems, or epilepsy. A space imbalance can also result in frequent ear infections.
How To Balance The Five Elements
Knowing about the five elements and their effects helps us ensure they remain balanced in our bodies. Here are some ways you can strengthen each one.
- Spend time in nature, such as at the beach, in a forest, or in the mountains.
- Walk outside barefoot (known as earthing). This allows you to connect your physical body to the earth and absorb its grounding energy.
- Eat earthy, grounding foods like root vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, grains, and beans.
- Sleep with your head towards the south.
Feng Shui For The Earth Element
Yellow is the color of the earth element in Feng Shui. So you can try adding more yellow, brown, and earthy tones to your home decor if you want to increase this element. You should also choose heavy materials like ceramics and stones.
For example, this KALIFANO Extinct Natural Polished Ammonite Fossil Stone has Feng Shui Healing Properties and is associated with the root chakra. The heavy, dark stone can increase stability in your life and keep depression at bay.
- To reduce excess fire, eat cooling foods like cucumber, mint, watermelon, and pears. Alternatively, add hot spices like cayenne, chili, black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon to your diet if you need to increase your metabolic fire.
- Practicing Sheetali pranayama (the cooling breath) is another excellent way to reduce excess fire as it cools the body, the mind, and the emotions.
- Sitting out in the sun and ensuring sufficient light enters your home will also help balance the fire element.
- To increase the fire element, do strenuous exercises and dynamic asanas that build your internal heat, make you sweat, and connect you to your inner power. To reduce it, practice more gentle exercises and opt for static poses in yoga instead.
Feng Shui For The Fire Element
Red and orange are the Feng Shui colors of the fire element, so adding these warm tones to your home decor will increase your energy and boost your mood. You can also improve fire energy with candles, and you should place them in the southeast direction to emit positive energy. I love this Energy Scented Candle by Bath and Body Works as it contains orange and ginger essential oils to further boost the fire element.
- Increasing your water intake is one of the best things for a water element deficiency. Aim to drink at least 2 liters, or half a gallon, daily.
- Another of the top cleansing practices for the water element is swimming, preferably in natural water like an ocean or lake. If you are not close to any natural water sources, taking a dip in a public swimming pool will still be beneficial.
- Taking a long soak in the bathtub is another way to connect to the water element and its healing properties.
- Eat more blue, purple, and black foods like eggplant and blueberries.
Feng Shui For The Water Element
Cool colors like blue and back help balance your water element so you experience more fluidity and can better go with the ebbs and flows of life. Water is also believed to be connected to your career, so increasing this element may bring more prosperity and motivation into this aspect of your life.
Aside from adding blue and black decor, indoor water features like fountains or aquariums are a fantastic way to balance the water element. They don’t have to be large or expensive, though. For example, this Desktop Water Fountain is ideal for placing on your desk or bedside table (preferably in a northeastern direction). The tabletop fountain has changing color lights, therapeutic sounds, and relaxing mists.
- Practice breath awareness meditation or pranayamas like Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).
- Eat light but regular meals. Foods like beans, lentils, and green leafy vegetables are best.
- Get plenty of rest and incorporate more relaxing self-care activities into your day.
- For an air element deficiency, spend time watching the sky by admiring the clouds, watching the birds, or star gazing.
- Keep the windows in your home open as often as possible. It is best to have air entering your home from the northeast, so doors and windows should preferably be in this direction.
Feng Shui For The Air Element
Adding plants to your home is one of the best ways to improve the air quality in your home and, thus, balance the air element. Don’t worry if you haven’t got green fingers because there are some very low-maintenance indoor plants.
For example, Lucky Bamboo is an element of Feng Shui. These Live Lucky Bamboo Shoots are easy to care for as they just need to be placed in bowls of water and pebbles in indirect sunlight. Along with balancing the element of air, they are also said to bring good luck.
- As the space element is linked to the throat, exercising this part of the body with singing and chanting is a great way to balance the energy.
- Meditation, pranayama, and other spiritual practices will also increase ether and enhance the element’s qualities like intuition and imagination.
- Another way to balance ether is to increase your spatial awareness (knowing where your body is in space concerning other things). Somatics, body-scan meditations, Qi Gong, and yoga are all excellent practices for this.
Feng Shui For The Ether Element
In Feng Shui, the space element is associated with the center of your home. Thus, you should keep the middle of each room open and light by moving furniture to the sides and corners. You can also use cleansing techniques like smudging with sage to remove negative energy and infuse your home with positivity. I recommend the Purple Canyon White Sage Smudge Kit. It has four eco-friendly sage stick bundles and a smudging guide for beginners.
Final Thoughts On The 5 Elements Of Life
As the five-element theory explains, these basic elements make up the entire world, including the bodies of all living things. Therefore, balancing these elements is essential to our health and well-being. If you feel excess or deficient energy in any of them, try the tips above to restore balance in your body and mind.