What is it like to embody the all encompassing, nourishing stability of Earth in our stomach? The passion, joy and communication of Fire in our heart and our belly – the balance of all elements in the expression of life within us?
Beyond the personal, it is the elemental dance of life as it lives through our being.
“People are born with the energies of Yin and Yang and the five elements so they have these energies in their bodies. When these energies are active in the body they constitute the five virtues. The five virtues, in essence, have a natural course which does not require forced effort; this is called the path of following nature” LUI I MING (1731 – 1821)
The Chinese system of Wu Xing – “Five ways of being”, grew out of the early observations of nature that taught of sun and shadow, action and stillness – Yang and Yin. The Five Elements of Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal were seen to describe not only energies, but organs, sounds, tastes, emotions – all of life. The interactions and balance of the Elements describe how things work, how things get stuck, and how to restore flow, health and harmony.
The Five Elements system offers us a way of understanding and being in relationship with ourselves, each other, and the rest of the natural world of which we are part. It is not a ‘theoretical framework’, rather it is a living, breathing, dynamic observation over thousands of years that can guide our interactions, our wellbeing and our lives.
Our bodies are in constant communication with the rest of the natural world. Much of this is often below our conscious awareness. As we learn to listen deeply and to understand the languages of nature, we find ourselves softening into a deep and archetypal resonance of communion and belonging from which our current pace of life divorces us and leaves us bereft. What is this longing that we have sought to quench with everything from religion to possession to consumerism to . . . It is the call of nature. It is the call back home.
As we learn to listen, and to appreciate the qualities of the natural world, we begin to hear a resonance within ourselves. From this perspective, we will know (for example) our kidneys as an expression of the Water Element. Listening deeply – do we sense a stagnant turgidity? A stomped in muddy puddle? Or a clear mountain stream, or a wide, tranquil lake? What might they need, these kidneys? A channel digging to guide the flow? Vitalising minerals from the Metal element? To be sucked up and used to nourish a tree?
Having a sense of the core quality of water, we are able to ask what does this water need in order to express its natural vitality? Maybe stillness from the earth to allow the mud to settle?
Water within, water without. Nature within, nature without. As we forget our belonging and drift ever further into the illusion of separateness, we dishonour our world just as we express our disconnection through an ever increasing number and variety of illness and dis-ease.
What is to be done? If I sense that my Lungs (Metal) feel cold, hard and tight, how may I bring them warmth, to soften and allow them to expand? If I am full of anger (Liver, Wood) how may I begin to use and direct that energy in a creative way? How may I find a point of growth and learning, or cut away the tangle of choking undergrowth?
Observation and immersion in the languages of nature will show us that as Water feeds Wood, so Wood feeds the Fire. Fire makes ash to feed the Earth, which compresses and creates Metal. The vitalising minerals in Metal feed the life giving Water. So too may we bring the sharp edges of Metal to cut away overgrowing Wood, or bring Water to quench a Fire.
Sensing our bodies as an expression of the Five Elements, we may work with the correspondences of Earth – the Stomach and Spleen; of Metal – the Lungs and Large Intestines; of Water – the Kidneys and Bladder; of Wood – the Liver and Gall Bladder; and of Fire – the Heart and Small Intestines . . . and the Pericardium (the membrane holding the heart) and the Triple Heater, the connective tissue, the fascia and the ‘heat’ generated by the processes of living. Not only through our senses and our internal imagery, but also through specific points on our Acupuncture Meridians (our ‘channels of Chi’ our ‘rivers of light’) which assist in the free flow of energy through us.
Which brings us back to the embodiment of the Elements and the generation of the Five Virtues within our lives . . .
One who understands
the principle of the mutual generation of
the five elements, and causes humanity,
justice, courtesy, knowledge and
truthfulness to flow as one energy is
administering the natural way of heaven
LUI I MING
If this concept fires your enthusiasm, or gets your sap rising – do please join us on Dartmoor this August (22-29) for a whole brain, whole being immersion in the model and practice of Five Elements Body Nature Resonance.
We will be spending our mornings looking at both physical and energy anatomy, at the teachings of the I Ching and the old masters, and listening, sensing into our bodies. Our afternoons will be full of romping in rivers, woods and moorland, journeying to meet Plants and find our natural allies, building fires and forging iron with our Blacksmith. Each day will build a celebration of its Element. Our evenings will be open for offerings, some from us, and with space for whatever you may like to bring.
At the end of the week, we will reflect and bring the work into our lives and our practice.
The retreat is informed not only by Nature and the ancient teachings of the Five Elements, but also by our 100 years of joint practice in Kinesiology, Plant Whispering, Essence making, CranioSacral Therapy, Esoteric Healing, Shamanic Journeying and Celebrancy. Not to mention bringing all Five Elements together in the ancient art of Blacksmithing.
To join in the discussions, find us on FaceBook – Wood Shouts, Earth Sings, and at www.woodshoutsearthsings.wordpress.com.