From Chapter 1
The 4 Elements in a Nutshell
Earth is the need of everything that exists to have a physical structure, instead of being simply an abstract idea or rambling thought. We call our own version of this physical structure our body. Within our bodies, Earth finds its deepest home in our bones, which give the body its most dense, earthen physicality. Bone expresses Earth’s evolution in life. Bone and its related Earth element parts create one of the four pillars of your health. Whether it is the calcium-built bone of vertebrates, or the silica-based solidity that frames a jellyfish, there is a requirement for all life to have within itself, some measure of Earth, some core of solidity.
Part of the 4 Element Lifestyle is appreciating the power of skeletal alignment. You’ll learn the importance of walking with good heel strikes so that you might better engage Earth – existing in that hard terra firma under those feet – as you do.
Water is the need for nourishment, which every cell requires. Our blood and circulatory system are expressions of Water within us. We could go further and say that our various digestive organs, and even our hearts, lungs and kidneys work to maintain this flow of nourishment throughout our bodies.
All of these organs are the evolution of Water within life. The strength of these organs represents the second pillar of health within each of us. The 4 Element Lifestyle’s emphasis on wholesome nutrition comes from its appreciation of Water’s power to help our organs stay strong.
Air gives life its need for self-empowerment. It pushed life to extend itself upward (the direction in which air rises) against the powerful force of gravity. When life came out of the oceans and into the airy environment, muscles progressed far beyond those in fish. Having to hold us up in this airy space, these muscles provide self-empowerment to life. The 4 Element Lifestyle’s urge toward having some level of robust muscular activity in your life comes from a respect given to Air. This third pillar of health relates to our muscular vitality.
And lastly, Fire is the organizing element, which unifies and creates a sense of organic order and wholeness to every creature. The nervous system (with its brain) represents Fire’s power in animals. Humankind is endowed with considerably more access to this highest of elements. The nervous system, then, is the fourth pillar of our health.
Whether it is our appreciation of colors, which Fire gives us through light, the way we use heat to cook, or for the spiritual purpose of candles in our places of worship, Fire is bountiful in the ways it has been used by humankind. The 4 Element Lifestyle pushes us to feel the power of this highest of the four elements.
My clinical work has led me to realize that many of our health issues stem from a breakdown in the function of these four elements within us. As we take the time to learn how they operate in Nature, we can apply those insights to our own bodies and understand how to employ them to our sick, dis-eased, or painful parts.
Before I go further, let me say this about our foursome and how you will be encountering the terms Fire, Air, Water and Earth in this book. Sometimes you’ll see the word element after the name of a member of this foursome. It may be helpful for you to substitute the word element with principle, ideal, force, or even value. In other words, Nature’s four elements are expressions of four primal principles, ideals, forces, and values of Creation. You’ll also notice that many times I will choose to not put a defining term after the name.