In an ideal world, we would be able to maintain a deep connection to nature at all times. But it’s not always easy, as we get consumed with daily life.
Developing a true understanding of the five elements (the basis of all material existence) and how they impact our physical and mental health is an ongoing process. So, I often find myself meditating on this mantra that I discovered awhile back, which helps me stay alert to the ways Mother Earth’s facets affect us on micro and macro levels.
I first became attuned to these ideas in my study of ayurveda about 12 years ago. The philosophy is that the five elements—air, fire, wind, earth and ether (or space)—not only surround us in the natural world, but also live within our cells. It’s our jobs as individuals to constantly check in with ourselves, staying alert to imbalances as they are likely to develop in different areas over time.
Each element represents its own state of being and mind. So, here are some CliffsNotes:
First, earth nurtures all—everything that lives on the planet. This element symbolizes stability, permanence and rigidity. It is directly connected to the digestive system and, when it’s out of balance, a person might experience weight gain, lethargy and an excess of stress. We’ve all been there before! That’s why it’s important to have a grounding process. Personally, I listen to a grounding meditation in the morning that helps me to balance my energy for the day ahead. It’s only 10 minutes and makes a huge difference.
Water is all about fluidity and eternal flow. It’s connected to youthfulness and taste and, in terms of our bodies, is often related to the blood and lymphatic system. An imbalance of this type can lead to kidney issues, energetic and emotional issues and an overall instability in life. It can be recognized through feelings of anxiety, fear and nervousness.
Fire embodies passion and vitality—the power to transform, burn anger and shift self-esteem. This fiery element transforms into tissue and energy and, in extreme examples of imbalance, can cause depression and sleep issues. Signs of excessive fire in the body can include hot flashes and skin irritations.
Air is eternally dynamic and flexible. Since we must breathe air to live, this element is connected to respiration, as well as sense of touch, movement and relaxation. An imbalance can lead to feelings of being trapped inside one’s head and overthinking, commitment issues and an inability to make decisions.
Finally, space is the foundation of our relationship with the universe. It’s the manifestation of all our desires, creativity, wisdom, dignity, knowledge and compassion. Hence, it is the essence of life. Proper rest and meditation are both key to keeping this element centered.
Striving for this perfect balance is a process and a constant effort, since our bodies and circumstances are always changing. For September, as we ready for a change in seasons and a new set of challenges, we are excited to have enlisted all manner of experts to help guide us through a deep dive into these concepts, so we can each explore the ways our own existence is impacted by these different influences.
Nature is complex—as are human beings. It’s only with the proper tools that we can find our way to balanced fluidity and openness.
Stay safe, healthy and balanced!
xo - Robyn