Elemental Healing 101: The Four Elements

November 21, 2018

There is so much to be said for working with the elements to aid in our own healing journeys. I have been on a long path of wellness and have learned from many different types of modalities that include everything from formal theory and therapy to sensory deprivation floating and many, many between.

 

My connection to nature is the foundation for my spirituality. In working with others on their healing journeys, I have learned the importance of connection to your own spiritual nature as an essential component of the process. Many folks have hangovers from the religion of their youth but you have the ability to reclaim this essential component of your Being. Our connection to Earth is universal and tapping into the elemental energies can bring relief, grounding, expansion, soothing, composition, rebirth and may reveal the deepest truths within ourselves. 

 

This is a basic introduction to thinking about and working with the elements in your own life. The order of the elements corresponds to the way I personally work best with them: Earth, Air, Water, Fire. Another way to see this pattern is: Grounding, Expanding, Cleansing, Transforming.

 

EARTH

 

 

Image: Photo of the amphitheater at Bryce Canyon National Park in Autumn.

Caption: "Earth, my dearest, oh believe me, you no longer need your springtime's to win me over... Unspeakably, I have belonged to you from the flush. -- Rainer Maria Rilke"

 

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The element of earth is associated with fundamental goodness. Earth is practical, grounded, dependable, creative, supportive, tangible, and assured. 

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Earth assimilates. The energy flows inward, in spiral, continuously. Constantly churning composting, decomposing, eroding, compressing and birthing from that nourished ground in infinite loop.

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Earth is the building blocks of nature Herself. Earth is reliable, nurturing, generous. One seed with earth can multiply a thousand times and gives those fruits freely and lavishly, with abandon. Because generosity begets generosity. This is earths way, her expression.

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Earth renews, recycles, and replenishes. Earth takes what is dead, rotten, cast aside and transforms through decay, pressure, time, and heat. Earth is medicine. Minerals, mud, plants, and microorganisms mend, balance, soothe and detoxify.

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Feeling into this energy in our lives will support us physically, mentally, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Forgetting our need for earth energy we feel unstable, lose confidence, lose trust, give into self-deprecation and doubt. If I cannot physically get out into nature, dancing is one of my favorite ways to get into my body and feel grounded and connected.

 

 

 

AIR

 

 

Image: Photo of aspen trees with golden yellow leaves.

Caption: "The answer my friend, is blowin in the wind. --Bob Dylan" 

 

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The element of air is associated with intellect, wit, expansion, communication, possibility, decision making, logic, and liberation. Air can be friendly, inspiring, clever, encourage cooperation, be difficult to contain, flighty, noncommittal, and free.

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Air in balance is life force. Breathing in and breathing out. Air is a tool for communication from mouth to mouth, from body to body, from body to spirit. Air transports and carries: messages, speech, passengers, sails, planes, weather, all electromagnetic waves/frequencies, and all of the information of the internet.

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Air blows both hot and cold. Air intensifies. Adding wind to water, earth, or fire will ignite the possibilities of those elements to be expanded and greater than if on their own (e.g. tsunami, tornado, wildfire). Air paired with any element makes it bigger, wilder, and more erosive. Air magnifies, air shapes.

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Air naturally does not want to be contained. Wisely utilizing the element of air in our personal lives can bring balance, perspective, clear analysis and cooperative communication. Be honest with yourself. Are you a summer breeze or howling wind? Are you assisting or hindering or irritating or refreshing? Listen. As Dylan sang, the answers are blowing in the wind.

 

 

 

 

WATER

 

 

Image: Photo of the sun, high over a cloudy sky and vast ocean horizon.

Caption: "You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop. --Rumi"

 

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The element of water is associated with the emotions, intuition, attunement, sensitivity, spirituality, compassion and creativity. Water can be adaptive, highly mutable, active, and runs deep.

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Earth (and subsequently everything on it, including us) is living because of water. Water has the ability to rejuvenate, cleanse, baptize, heal, quench thirst, grow, soothe, purify, dilute, heat and cool. Water is a tool to give life, to heal life.

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All the water we have is all the water there has ever been. Water recycles and renews.

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Water is mutable, from ice to water, and then water to gas. Water in the earth and in the sky, in our bodies, the entirety of oceans, and the earth bodies of all other living beings for all time. The tears and blood of all the people and all the animals there ever were and ever will be. Out of nowhere, in generous abandon, mornings dew. Because of its dynamic nature, water is a unifier.

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Stagnant water becomes toxic. Torrential rain, tsunami, hurricane, ice storms, hail all have erosive and destructive capabilities. Water drowns or freezes, mercilessly. Even something as benign as a river or a creek takes its toll on the land.

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When we look at the elemental quality of water in our lives we are looking at the fluid nature of our consciousness, our thought patterns, our current emotional states, our moods, our connections to the spiritual, and our sensitivity and relation to one another. It is our ability to feel, perceive and attune. Unlike our brain signaling to our body “move your arm” or unconscious automatic processes such as breathing, there is fluid mystery to the free flow of thought and emotion, intuition, attunement, relationships with others, and many of our other human capacities. The speed at which mood/emotion/thought can transform or appear amazes me.

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Have you worked with the element of water in your own life? Are you attuned to your own flow, your patterns of emotion throughout each day? Mindfulness is one (excellent) way we can work with the flow and integration of information and experience we receive. When we are torrential, what brings us back to stillness? When we are stagnant what pushes us to become unstuck? Life’s chaos will cause the wave but when it comes will you sink or surf? Can you out swim it? What’s your take?

 

 

 

FIRE

 

Image: Photo of the flames of a campfire in motion 

Caption: "Which fires cleanse and which fires burn? -- Heart Vision Coaching" 

 

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The element of fire is associated with energy, motivation, creativity, the ignition of idea and action. Fire can be bold, spontaneous, passionate, zesty, and confident.

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In agriculture, fire is used as a cleansing tool to completely clear an area for planting (called, slash and burn method). Fire has the unequivocal power to level to the ground for a fresh start. Fire is used to heal, to heat, to cook, to melt, to change shape. Fire is a tool to transform.

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Fire without containment can be erratic, destructive, aggressive, combustible and merciless. Destruction in this context is not a positive or a negative, it is rather a description of the erosive process of fire. Fire is moving-centered, always in motion, never stilled. It is hungry, living energy.

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When we look at the elemental quality of fire in our emotional landscape, the parts of ourselves that feel excited and motivated, passionate, hungry, and confident we can begin to learn how thinking in this way can aid us in making metaphors for moving in the world.

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So which fires cleanse and which fires burn? Where can you stand to be bigger and brighter and what parts of you are untamed and going after others? What can you burn to the ground and rid yourself of for good? What seeds can you plant in the dense nutrients of compost left behind?

 

 

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Elemental Healing 101: The Four Elements