By Jill Henry
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, August/September 2005.
Unseen energy flows throughout our bodies. These energy flows are the basis for China’s acupuncture and India’s ayurvedic medical systems. Randolph Stone, an osteopathic physician, explored these energy systems in the early 20th century, ultimately developing his own understanding of human energy in health and illness. Called polarity therapy, this system identifies five major energy elements. Balancing them can lead to healing the cause of disease in the body and mind. Based on the five element theory, here is a quick guide to tuning up your element energy.
Earth energy flows through the neck, bowels, and knees and feeds the bones. Unbalanced, it is the energetic cause of problems such as osteoporosis. Earth energy is vitalized nutritionally by eating foods that grow below the ground (potatoes and carrots); physically by activities like gardening and hiking; and mentally/emotionally by releasing fear-based thoughts and maintaining an attitude of courage and optimism.
Water energy flows through the breasts, pelvic area, and feet and feeds the body fluids. Unbalanced, it is the energetic cause of problems in the reproductive organs. Water energy is enhanced nutritionally by eating foods that grow on the ground such as melons; physically by activities such as swimming; and mentally/emotionally by releasing attachments and learning to go with life’s flow.
Fire energy flows through the head, solar plexus, and thighs and feeds the body’s metabolic processes. Unbalanced, it is the energetic cause of digestive problems. Fire energy is enhanced nutritionally by eating foods that grow near the ground including wheats and grains; physically by movements such as Pilates that focus on energizing the abdominal area; and mentally/emotionally by releasing anger and embracing a loving perspective.
Air energy flows through the shoulders, adrenals/ kidneys, and calves, and governs the body’s nervous, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Unbalanced, it is the energetic cause of panic attacks and chronic fatigue syndrome and similar diseases. Air energy is enhanced nutritionally by eating foods that grow high above the ground (fruits and nuts); physically by free-flowing activities such as yoga and tai chi; and mentally/emotionally by developing the attitude of contentment with life, rather than constantly desiring things to be different.
Ether energy governs all space within the body. Unbalanced, it is the energetic cause of arthritis and joint problems. Ether energy is balanced by creating space in the mind through meditation. The ability to find peace between our thoughts allows us the space to live an active, rather than reactive, life. Peace is attained by not taking our thoughts and feelings too seriously and allowing calm to precede action.