Five elements

Finding inner balance with the five elements

By reconnecting with the Earth we can all find calm and stability. By India Terry

So much happens when we venture out of our houses and into the great outdoors. We might feel the fresh breeze on our skin and feel awakened; feel the Earth under our feet as our mind starts to de-clutter, or we may even feel our creative blocks start to dissolve as gentle raindrops land on our skin. Whatever happens, we return home feeling connected: with ourselves, and the elements.

There are five elements we might experience when in nature: Water, Fire, Earth, Air and Spirit. But these elements are also inside our own homes, and inside ourselves. Once we can identify these elements and their meanings, we can invoke their essence wherever we are; whether we need to invoke the element of Air when trying to speak clearly on a Zoom presentation, or to invoke the element of Fire when we are feeling a lack of energy. Sometimes we might have too much of one element within us, or too little. This can lead to us feeling or behaving less aligned with our balanced self.

Understanding the five elements

The Water element, in a physical sense, is anything liquid - the sea, rivers, rain and even wine! In an energetic sense, Water is the ruler of our emotions, like love and creativity. With too little Water element, we might be apathetic or inconsiderate. Too much and we may be overly emotional or feeling drained from constantly looking after others, instead of ourselves.

Imagine how we would feel or act in the presence of the element physically. For example, we might wash our clothes in Water, therefore, this is an element we may use for cleansing our own emotions; think about it, we often feel better after a good cry or a soak in the bath.

A simple practice to connect to the Water element
When you do not feel in a hurry, turn on the shower . As you step under the flowing Water, first notice the physical feeling of it on your skin (this is best with eyes closed). This shower, even though not necessarily a waterfall or bubbling spring, is charged with comforting and healing energy: simply for it is Water. Start to turn your attention to how you are feeling under this element. If this is difficult, try to centre your attention around the space in the middle of the chest: the heart centre.

You might start to feel the warmth of love, or peace flowing around the body; our internal Water connecting with the external Water. If, however, you're feeling very emotional today, simply feel the Water helping to move this feeling through. Like Water, our emotions are not stagnant and want to flow freely. Stay under the shower until you feel your internal Waters balance.

Five elements

Fire is often described as our passion and power. It is the only element that cannot exist simply by itself. Created from wood, air and spirit. In its nature it is transformational. But this transformation is a fine balance between creation and destruction. Too little Fire element can often lead to us feeling low in confidence and a lack of motivation. Whereas too much, and we may be more angry or irritable. Fire can turn ingredients into a meal but can also make them charred and burnt. Similarly, when we invoke the element of Fire, we need to make sure it is balanced and controlled.

A simple practice to connect to the Fire element
Sit down in front of a source of Fire, a candle or a fireplace if you're lucky! Sit close enough so that you can feel a warmth (you may need a few candles if your candle is small). Notice how the warmth feels on your skin, you may close your eyes, or keep them open if you would prefer to see the fire and aren't easily distracted. Once you have started to become connected to the warmth of the Fire, visualise that same Fire burning within your belly (here we're not talking literal stomach, just in the energetic space above the belly button).

Notice how this inner Fire is burning - your first thought is usually right. If it's a little out of control, maybe step away from the outer Fire, if it's very small and not at all warm, continue sitting by the flame, imagining the outer flame giving fuel to your inner Fire. Once you feel your inner fire in balance with the outer fire, you are welcome to utilise this element to manifest, or just blow the candle out, knowing your inner Fire is still burning bright.

Five elements

Earth is the home-place that holds all elements. Similarly, it is the home-place that holds us. We might experience Earth energy as a hug from our Mother. In nature, we might experience the grounding practice of Earthing - walking barefoot on the Earth. The planet we inhabit is made greatly of earth, and most of our food grows from earth. It is the Mother/Father balance of stability and structure, nourishment and fertility. Too much Earth energy and we might be un-adventurous or bored, too little and we may be unstable or irrational.

A simple practice to connect to the Earth element
As mentioned above, a great way to connect to the Earth element is 'Earthing'. First, find a space outdoors where you can have some privacy. Next, take off your shoes and socks, leave them somewhere beside you so that your hands are free. Whilst standing barefoot on the Earth, close your eyes, feeling the weight and solidity underneath your feet. Notice the temperature of the ground, notice how you are feeling, but try not to feed any thoughts with your attention. You may like to imagine your feet are growing roots, as this happens, the feeling of stability and nourishment in your body may start to grow.

Allow whatever arises to rise. Feel free to take a walk barefoot: if you feel that you are a little dis-connected however, simply standing still may make you realise you are already connected to the Earth element.

Five elements

'Having your head in the clouds' is an idiom that explains a symptom of too much Air element, this may lead to overthinking or anxiety. Too little Air element and we might find communicating difficult. The Air element rules our mind, intellect, communication and freedom. It comes out of our voice box as words, and travels around our mind as ideas. In nature, it is the breeze, the wind, the storm and the smoke.

A simple practice to connect to the Air element
Whilst seated, and in a ventilated space, place and light a stick of incense. Here, remain with eyes open, gazing as the smoke rises. Notice how the smell starts to travel up through your nostrils. Whilst watching the smoke dance, you may feel called to move your hand, arm, maybe even your whole body! If this feels awkward, you may need to sit and experience the smoke for a bit longer.

Allow the dance to move through you, as air weaves its way around your body, feeling your body and mind become free. Stay dancing after the incense is finished, connected to the Air element within.

Five elements

The fifth element is the lesser known, also known as 'Ether.' It is the binding thread of all elements. The space in between our breath, the sea and land, the spark that ignites the fire and the seed inside us that begins a creative idea. Too much of the Spirit element and we might become illusional or dissociative. Too little and we might feel a lack of purpose with little wonder. Energetically, Spirit is our intuition, our memories, the part of us that seeks understanding and spirituality.

A simple practice to connect to the Spirit element
Sit in a comfortable position with closed eyes. Begin inhaling and exhaling, slowly, through the nostrils. If thoughts or feelings arise try to let them pass, bringing the attention back to the breath.

Now, bring your inner attention to the space in between the inhale and exhale, do not try and fill it, or think about it, just notice it. Notice the space just before the exhale, and once again notice the space just before the inhale. This is a simple meditation you can do anywhere, for however long, until you feel at ease with this sense of space.

After practicing some of these techniques to connect to the elements physically and understanding their subtle energy. We might feel like practicing these regularly, or other techniques to connect to the elements just within our own mind.

For example, imagining that you are standing close by to a source of running water, or visualising roots under your feet. Connecting to the elements in this way is very useful because we might not always have the time or place to physically connect to the elements. Realising that the elements exist energetically within us, we can call on them at any time, and in any place, so that we can feel balanced and connected.

Five elements

Words by India Terry, a yoga and mindfulness teacher who creates vegan mala beads and other yogic jewellery. Enchanted Malas are hand-knotted in the UK using intuitively chosen semi-precious stones, seed beads and vegan thread and tassels. Find out more about Enchanted Malas and the elements here, enchantedmalas.com.

Images taken by Natalie Wyborn.

Five elements

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