Imagine you have taken a long hike and finally come to a clearing in the woods where the view opens up to the spectacular display of a landscape totally untouched by humans. What would you anticipate the sensations to be in your body? How would your mind and spirit feel? Have you ever had an experience like this? For myself this experience usually comes with a mixture of immense relief, wonder, feelings of awe, and deep appreciation for the beauty and harmony of the natural world. Viewing the Earth’s natural landscapes creates an inner sense of harmony, a resonance with our soul.
Within natural landscapes there may be so many things happening, flowers may be blooming, spring water bubbling up, a breeze, deer grazing, mountain lions hunting, trees falling or being digested back into Earth by fungi, new plants sprouting, or clouds gathering on a clear and bright sunny day. Although there is always life and decay occurring within a landscape, when left to its natural cycle, environments tend toward a greater harmony that you can feel as vast and very majestic. Our body, mind and spirit are a reflection of our environment, our connection to it and the way that we interact with it. These gorgeous landscapes are the environment from which we emerged. They are our inheritance.
Cityscapes reflect both the elements of harmony and disharmony. Sometimes when we go into a city we have a similar experience of awe and inspiration observing the incredible brilliance of the human spirit to create such beauty and culture. And the less harmonious aspects exist as well such as noticing the imbalance between privilege and oppression. Also, the consumer culture in which we live is directly opposed to the natural harmony of nature by continuing to take from the Earth without replenishment. There tends to be disharmony not only in how we treat each other but in how we treat our immediate environment as well. A city is often referred to as a “concrete jungle” which is a metaphor for the way that we suppress nature by covering everything with cement to keep the wildness of the plants and animals out.
The way we treat our environment is reflected in how we relate to our body and mind and the way we treat our body and mind is reflected in how we treat our environment.
Why is suppression a problem?
Anything that inhibits the free flow of energy over long periods of time creates disease whether it is in our body or in our environment.
Why is consumer culture a problem?
When we do not respect our natural resources and we exploit them inappropriately, this will lead to disease as we are taxing the essential components that are necessary for a balanced ecosystem. In our environment this could be deforestation, or the way we extract oil from the ground and burn it thereby putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In our body this can lead to imbalance with stress and inadequate rest. In this manner we are depleting our deep reserves of energy that are necessary for our health.
In a thought experiment I want you to imagine a city that is suddenly abandoned by humans. What would happen and how long would it take for the wildness of nature to begin to reoccupy that space? If you are familiar with meditation this would be a metaphor for what meditation allows. It is an untying of knots, no longer resisting the natural pattern of nature to emerge within ourselves.
This is the basis of Five-Element Acupuncture and we have yet to talk about acupuncture. Five Element Acupuncture is an answer to the question of “How do we learn to allow ourselves the space to reconnect to the natural rhythms of our world?” It is not a complete return to the wild, it is a return to understanding how to live more closely to the harmony of a natural rhythm. We can only realize “health” when we act in concert with these basic principles. And when we do, when we find natural, ordinary simple health within ourselves then it may be possible to create city spaces that are healthy for people, animals and plants. When you do see spaces like this you can be sure that the people who created them had some level of understanding these principles.
How does Five Element Acupuncture work?
Five Element Acupuncture is based on the understanding that each element of the Earth has a unique energy and these energies are associated with aspects of human beings. We can begin to understand these ideas by observing how the elements act in nature and how this is mirrored in our body. The elements in Chinese medicine are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. Each person has a unique elemental constitution and these elements relate to different organ systems in the body and different emotions. For example, suppose you have a Water constitution, the organs most closely related with Water are the bladder and kidneys, and these are related to the emotion of fear or lack of fear.
It is less common today than it was even a 100 years ago, for disease to arise from external factors such as excessive heat or cold, or injuries and infectious disease because we now have heated or air conditioned spaces and modern medicine has the ability to treat most infections and injuries. Now, it is common for disease to stem from deeply habituated emotions over time. Later we will go into more depth explaining how these emotions relate to the elements, seasons, organs and other associations.
The emotions and seasons are connected with each Element. Water is connected to winter and the emotion of fear (or lack of fear). Wood is connected with the season of spring and the emotion of anger (or lack of anger). Fire is connected with the season of summer and the emotion of joy (or sadness). Earth is connected to the season of late summer and the emotion of empathy (or an inability to give or receive empathy). Metal is connected with the season of fall and the emotions of grief or longing.
Who are the types of people that come in for Five-Element Acupuncture?
Clients who come in for Five Element Acupuncture are about as diverse as Colorado wildflowers because Five Element Acupuncture can treat a wide range of people and their challenges. Among the most common conditions treated are pain related issues, anxiety, depression, fertility, women’s health issues, autoimmune disorders, and digestive disorders. Often we find that clients come in for pain, not realizing the vast scope of acupuncture and Chinese medicine and then when they sit down for our intake they suddenly realize that they have not previously delved into such depth during a medical appointment before!
As they begin to receive treatment, they realize that they are also feeling less depression, less anxiety, and generally more at ease in themselves. Often other symptoms that they did not come for initially are improving, too.
Five Element Acupuncture treats at a deep level and when the Elements return to balance through acupuncture, Chinese herbs and the resolution of harmful habits, you begin to move toward a more balanced expression of yourself and you begin to see glimpses of how your experience of life is becoming similar to that pristine natural landscape. It is not that all is perfect or that there are not any problems, but you begin to see that the natural movements of stillness, growth, maturation, fruition, decay and return to stillness are just the natural flow of life. When you allow these natural rhythms to come and go without repressing them or exaggerating them, then over time not only do your symptoms improve, but from a deep place there begins to be an internal radiance and balance that is returning and increasing in you. And THAT is the state of health we are after.
If this work resonates with you, click here to schedule a five-element consult with me.
John Winternitz, MA, LAc.