Using the Elements to Understand the Cycles and Rhythms of
Your Body, Mind, and Soul
Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal represent five movements, stages, and transformations. They represent the stages of visioning and manifesting your heart’s desires, and the organic life cycle in which all things are conceived, birthed, expanded, and ultimately die. The five elements are a guide and a system for organizing all that we experience as the manifestations of a greater universal pattern. Whether you find this to be scary or exciting, tapping into the flow of these five currents offer us a great potential for change. You can work with these energies to create the life you want. Take a minute, right now where you’re sitting, to think about the healthiest person you know.
Go ahead, I’ll wait… Got it?… Awesome!
Now for the next thirty seconds, write down all the words you would use to describe this person…
I’ve posed this question nearly a hundred times over the past 10 years of leading workshops and retreats. And you know what? No one has EVER described the healthiest person they know as “free from a particular disease.” Ironically, sometimes the opposite can be true: the healthiest person we know might be battling cancer or struggling with a degenerative disease like lupus or multiple sclerosis. And sure, you may have thought of a person who inspires you with their dietary regimen and exercise game. But most likely, the person who came to your mind is healthy because of how they move through their life — not because of their physical body.
Maybe they are positive and upbeat, and make you feel better about your own life just from being around them. My friend Keiana is like that. I swear it doesn’t matter what the hell I tell her, she will always empower me with some affirmation that helps me see that my life is unfolding as it should. She has the unique ability to find the good in every situation without being annoying about it.
Maybe the person you thought of can approach whatever you throw at them with an air of calm and composure. My friend Trena is like that. I remember doing a walkthrough with her as she prepared for a high-stakes event. She had single-handedly organized a conference, which invited over 3,500 students from all over New York City together for performances and workshops. Community politicians and stakeholders all had their eyes on her. In the moments before showtime, I was practically having an anxiety attack at the sheer enormity of it all. But Trena didn’t break a sweat. She redirected every crisis thrown at her as if she were directing planes on a runway. Needless to say, the event was an incredible success and one of the highlights of her career.
Maybe the person seems to have it all together. Their parenting, their career, and their love life all seem to flow. My friend Lurie is like that. She manages to host a radio show, raise a baby and a teenager, and be kind and loving to her husband, all while having her hair and nails done. I thought her trade-off was in domesticity, but nope! One day I came over for dinner and found her making zucchini noodles. From scratch. Did I mention she’s also an attorney? And that she finds time to respond to my random texts about way less important things, like the exact shade of brown of my new boo? I get heart palpitations as I consider her daily to-do list.
We all know amazing people who laugh often, have a positive outlook, and move through the world with grace and ease. The point is, we know that true health is not just about how we feel in our physical bodies, but also how we feel inside of ourselves. The healthiest people we know are tapped into something that is beyond just physical health and material success.
Soul Medicine is About Energy
Soul medicine is any medicine that helps us heal the subtle, intangible aspects of our being that are necessary to feel healthy, happy, and whole. There are plenty of resources out there to get physically healthy — the sumthin’ sumthin’ that makes our lives flow. And that something has a name: qi. Qi is the animating life force that makes everything move from our thoughts and feelings to our bones and muscles. Qi is what makes some people feel like they’re giving off good vibes, and why we feel “at home” in certain places. Qi is what makes us suddenly stiffen when someone walks a little too closely into our personal space, and it is what makes us melt into the arms of a lover. Qi makes plants grow and seasons change. Qi is an invisible current of energy. It is everywhere, all of the time.
Qi flows like a river. When a river gets blocked with debris, you get a buildup of too much stuff on one side of the blockage. Swamped with gunk, things get mushy, stagnant, and overwhelmed. On the other side of the debris, there’s not enough water. Things on that side of the blockage wilt and die from the dryness and heat. Nothing can really thrive until that debris gets removed and the river can flow smoothly. That pretty much sums up the whole science of acupuncture, as far as I’m concerned. Acupuncturists use those tiny needles to clear the body’s qi rivers, called meridians. Then, every organ and cell can get the qi flow it needs.
When qi is flowing properly, we experience good physical health. When qi is not flowing smoothly, we experience pain, inflammation, and disease. But that river can get blocked in any aspect of our life, not just our body. We can feel stagnant and blocked in our relationships, our finances, our creativity, our parenting, our career, etc. Over the years, I have found that my clients are drawn to soul medicine to harmonize their qi in one (or more!) of the following areas: money, honey, or health.
Money is not just about financial abundance. When our “money qi” is flowing, we are able to live ‘on purpose’ and discover ways to bring our gifts and talents into the world. We experience abundance and prosperity in the form of resources, time, love, children or accomplishment.
Honey “honey qi” brings pleasure and sweetness to our experience. It includes self-love and appreciation, connection to a spiritual source, and a sense of loving kindness in our most important relationships. When our “honey” is right, we enjoy our lives and feel a sense of connection.
Health is not just physical. Good health also includes mental clarity — knowing what to do and when to do it. We have the vitality to experience the joy of being alive, as well as emotional self-awareness and equanimity.
There are hundreds of ways to work with the elements to create mind, body, soul, and spirit wellness rituals that work for you. I’d like to introduce a few allies for exploring, living and aligning with the elements on your path to personal discovery and transformation. I encourage you to personalize this process: pick and choose what works for you and expect that even that may change over time.