- Meet Dr. W
Could the four elements really be at the foundation of everything, or at least the most relevant expression to us of a single cosmos-wide pattern? You certainly wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that the idea of a foursome propping up Nature, the Cosmos, and ourselves was absurd. It is hard to imagine that any four things could be responsible for so much. Still, as you will shortly see, so much can be built and sustained by a simple code with four parts.
Perhaps the most significant one is life itself. For example, we should remember there are only four genetic bases responsible for the entire genetic code of all the life. These four genetic bases have interacted and joined together to build every life form on this planet – ancient bacteria, giant dinosaurs, the mosses, antelopes, sequoias and humankind of today. Each life form is built upon a set of distinctive proteins that define its physical body and its functional mechanisms. What is significant here is that all these proteins are built from the coming together of those four genetic bases. It’s how they come together in almost infinite ways that has allowed life in all its diversity to be created.
As far as naming the four cosmic principles that are theorized to be at the foundation of all those foursomes present in our world – we could simply call them the A, B, C and D principles. As you can see from the title and focus of the book, I have found it is far more interesting and insightful to call these principles by the terms that we see them in Nature: Fire, Air, Water and Earth. I’ve taken my lead from the Ancients, who as we saw in the last chapter, did the same.
Another reason to call these four principles by those terms is that like numbers, Nature’s four elements represent an objective reality we all share and operate in. As I give my talks on the four elements I’ve come to know that there is something about this quartet that rings true to us – our mind, our heart, our human spirit. And again, that’s why humankind’s cultural traditions typically acknowledge them, even showing up as we’ve seen in Genesis, defining the first four days of Creation.
We will continuously see that by better understanding the Fire, Air, Water and Earth elements of Nature, we can understand ourselves more and learn how to live happier, healthier, and more effective lives. Because these four elemental principles are holistic (repeating on all the various cosmic levels), we can gather clues as to how they operate in us by looking at them in that larger field of our lives – Nature.
As we use these four natural terms to see ourselves more clearly – body, mind and spirit-wise – we’re going to start from the bottom and work our way up. We’ll discover that each of the four elements manifest as one of our body systems, one of our mental processes and as an important part of our common human condition. So let us begin by exploring Earth – and see that not only is Earth the foundational or bottom element for Nature, it also plays out in us where humanity’s higher-level functions are anchored as well.
Earth And Bone
Can you sense that as a principle, Earth directs the stuff of the world towards its ideal of rock-hard, solid physicality? For example, when we are noticing an object’s hardness or solidity, we are noting the amount of this element, this ideal, this principle of Earth within it.
Along these same lines, can you see that while our whole body has Earth’s physicality, it is our bones that are the hardest, most solid part of us? Earth expresses itself in us as our bones, then. Women’s post-menopausal desire for strong bones calls out to this element’s power to work within them. But more than just static bone, the whole of your skeletal structure – its alignment and posture relates to this Earth principle. As we will learn later, the skeletal alignment of your body is a foundational part of your health.
On another level, Earth gives you your need for practicality. We need to be practical because Earth demands each of us to maintain this physical life we have; to maintain our house, our car, and often much more. It is Earth that pushes you to complete your actions, to work in ways that make something physically, tangibly real – as opposed to being merely an abstract notion in your head. Earth craves physicality, craves accomplishment.
And too, for good and for bad, and in so many different ways, Earth creates hardness – makes things hard in both physical and metaphoric ways. We would not be able to appreciate the fullness of our accomplishments, or for that matter, to physically sense the world without this hardness given by Earth. Whether it be for skyscrapers or for the heels of our feet, Earth gives the solid resistance needed for important parts of our life to function.
Our health and personal sturdiness demand the stuff of Earth. As part of a four element-inspired lifestyle, you’ll likely want to find ways to strengthen Earth in the problematic parts of your body. A stronger Earth will make those weaker links of your body more able to resist falling apart – showing up as sickness, disease, and pain. You’ll be shown how to make this important foundation of your health stronger, even as you walk.
Further, as we’ll continue to learn, success and prosperity come as we are able to use Earth’s power to physically manifest our goals within the here-and-now of our lives. Part of a healthy lifestyle includes drawing forward the various elements needed for success, which surely includes Earth’s push to make our goals physically manifested and real – even if that process is “hard”.
Water And Our Organs
Think about the way that ancient life began as small amoeba in the seas. Nourishment was carried into these one-celled creatures by way of the water that flowed in and out of their cell walls. We learned earlier how Water is the element of connectedness; life is maintained as water connects life’s creatures to their most primitive need: nourishment, or food. For the ancient amoeba – and for those today as well – water carried the necessary nourishment, from food to minerals to oxygen.
As life got larger, however, canals needed to be developed in order to transport this nutrient-laden water throughout its larger self; later yet in the evolutionary process a digestive system was established to break larger food items down so that the smaller cells could use them. Eventually a heart developed to pump the nutrients through those canals. By then, a whole circulatory system had formed; even an immune system to keep all those watery canals free of invaders. And, too, kidneys evolved to filter the water in those canals. And then life moved onto land. And the oxygen that was dissolved in the oceans now needed lungs to draw it out of the air.
The point is that all of our visceral systems – urinary, respiratory, digestive, immune, and cardiovascular – are all an embellishment of this Water element within our body. Further, when we discuss the nutrients and herbs useful for different organs and our health problems, we become focused on the power of the Water Principle of life working within us.
Can you sense that while Earth pulls the parts of Creation toward hardness and solidity, Water speaks of softness? Softness is inherent in the fluidity of water. This softness allows the parts of a greater whole to connect more easily to one another. It’s useful to think of how a soft tissue or piece of toilet paper can touch your skin in a more gentle way, on a more intimate level than a stiffer sheet of writing paper can. Life depends upon a substance that is gentle, pleasant, and able to reach into the smallest nooks and crannies of a body so as to interconnect the myriad of small parts that build its whole. Water surely fits the bill!
Furthermore, as we just saw, your health depends upon Water’s power to bring nourishment to every cell of your body. Before long we will see, too, that it is this power of Water that builds your ligaments and sinew – your connective tissue – so you can perform all of your life’s activities freely and painlessly. If you are seeking to heal from illness or strengthen a weaker organ (or renew one of those water-filled discs of your spine) in more natural ways, you will want to draw upon Water’s power as well.
It is useful to know that Water as a principle gives us our passion, those energies that motivate us to do important things in our lives. We’ll be seeing how Water helps us feel meaning in our lives, too; it gives us a sense of inter-connectedness and our ability to interact in deep ways with the world around us. Water connects all of life together in its soft, interweaving way.
Air And Muscles
Remember, Air as an element is space. It is the force that creates open, endless space. Everything needs its “elbowroom”, its space. It is not hard to see that everything existing requires a spatial separateness between itself and other things. And, what is it that we use to give us that elbowroom? Muscles. Muscles are very different than the Water element’s ligament structures. Muscles bring forward the self-empowerment that all life desires. This self-empowerment is frequently manifested by our abilities to move through space (Air) in the direction we want, and to do the things we want to do. And, as it turns out, the air that we breathe contains that which muscular power requires, oxygen.
How we use our muscles defines how we do what we do. If we habitually have bad posture, walk slumped-forward or sit too much it is a sign we are not using our muscles properly. As we will continually learn, the way we use our muscles affects our ability to invigorate our body with life. This is a major reason why it is so important to stay active, to move and have good muscle-invigorated posture. If we don’t we truly suffer.
Fortunately, your weaker skeletal parts and even organs can be strengthened when special exercises are done, such as 4 Element Yoga. 4 Element Yoga works to invigorate local tissues by bringing Nature’s foursome of healing forces into your body – all through the power of muscle-invigorated movement.
Fire And Our Nerves
In the same way that Fire is the most ethereal, least physical of the four elements, nerves are the least physical part of your body. The nervous system manifests the Fire Principle in life. Think of those fiery nerve impulses moving quickly down from the brain to the rest of the body.
In the same way that Fire existing as Nature’s sun is responsible for creating order on our planet with its light, it is nerve fire that directs all animals toward well-organized and successful actions. We will see in later chapters that we can do a lot to keep our Fire – our nerves, our brain, even our heart (which is very nervous-system driven) strong, or to strengthen it in other places where it is weak.
Can you seen, then, that the actual order of Fire, Air, Water, Earth plays out not only in the order from Nature’s sun up top to Earth’s solid ground at the bottom, but also in this same order in your body? Your brain – the most concentrated Fire of our body – is up at your top. Your feet, with its density of bones, concentrate Earth at your bottom. Between these two poles you have the airy lungs above the more watery mass of your abdomen and pelvis. As you will continue to see, this FAWE order keeps showing up.
While we just familiarized ourselves with how the four elements build the framework of our bodies, our next step is to see how we can use this holistic model to understand how our human mind works. This book should be seen as a success manual in that it will help you to find strategies to reach your personal goals.
Your mental state is so important in that process. You will find that you can use the four element code to increase the power of your mind, which allows you to more easily accomplish the goals you have set. This is especially important for living a high quality life.