Living the Elements: Earth
Earth, the element that embodies Late Summer, is all about the feeling of stability and satisfaction. It’s our sense of familiarity and comfort, our sense of homeyness. The stay-at-home measures of COVID-19 are definitely “bringing it all back home” for us, and that has certainly been giving us an opportunity to appreciate family and home much more—or else made us realize what’s absolutely got to change.
On a national and planetary level, there’s a whole lot coming home to us—and it’s been coming for a long time. We are living right now in the midst of so much upheaval that it is both an opportunity and a necessity for us to do the kind of pondering ...
What is the Difference Between Healing and Walking?
I’ve been in a lot of discussions these days about what kind of healing is needed in these drastic times. Truthfully, I don’t think that healing is needed. I think that what is needed is something called walking. What's the difference between healing and walking?
“Walking” is a term borrowed from Sufism, but applicable to Chinese medicine as well as many other modalities. Walking refers not to the outward manifestations of healing, but the inward spiritual transformation associated with deeper connection to Source via the Heart. Different traditions have different names for this journey from individuality and separation to greater and greater oneness with the One. Beyond words, beyond doctrine, drastic situations like ...
I read the autobiography of Frederick Douglass Jr. when I was in fourth grade. The part of the story that struck me the hardest was the description of little Frederick being sold up north to Maryland, to be a happy little white family’s very own first slave.
When Frederick first arrived, he joined a warm and loving family, filled with laughter and natural flow of kindness. Within a year, however, the family became cold and bitter. There was no more singing and easy affection, and there was severity where once there was kindness. The continuous strain of having to be “superior,” and needing to suppress their natural generosity and loving impulses towards a fellow human being—a child, in fact—meant ...
Living the Elements: Fire
Summer is a time when it is safe to blossom, because all danger of frost is past. What a relief! We can shed our protective layers, and stand in the open, to see and be seen as who we really are. Summer is the time of extended light and warmth, and this is the basis of its capacity to invite us into the openness and exposure that allows us to create fulfilling connections.
The gift of Fire is lightness of being. Humor, playfulness and the ability to be silly are crucial to the health of Fire. Fire understands that in order to be truly sane, you have to be a little bit crazy — and not be ...
Why a Healer Needs to Consider Race
Too often, “I don’t see color” is translated as, “I don’t want to hear about racism.” The white person who said these words might not have meant it that way at all—but it is important to be aware of how we are coming across in a context where there really are a lot of white people who just do not want to hear or know about racial pain.
Those of us who are white healers supporting BIPOC clients do need to take some extra steps to signal clearly that we are ready to listen, and ready to have our awareness stretched beyond our own lived experience, into domains of experience that we haven’t known.
Living the Elements: Wood
There are a number of different serious blog pieces still in the works, but right now, I really just want to have some community fun. I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite Wood-element art and music.
I’d love to hear from you: Are you listening to, looking at, or reading anything that moves and heals and awakens your Wood element this spring? Please share in the comments section below. I’m always up for more healthy Five Element nourishment through the arts. Meanwhile here are some of my favorites, just to get you started.
Song: It’s Not Easy Being Green by Kermit the Frog
At first listen this might not seem to be your average Wood song, ...
The Power of Stopping
We have a choice about how we use this time of immobilization and quarantine, which is in many ways like a winter right in the middle of springtime. In Chinese medicine, Winter is about the evocation and transformation of fear, but it is also about deep revitalization. Over the winter, a while ago, I wrote a piece about “The Power of Stopping” which feels even more apropos now, so I will share it with you:
How does revitalization happen? What is vitality? Where and how is the power of life force gathered and maintained? How do we do that for ourselves? How do we assist others in revitalizing and living from deep, powerful vitality?
It’s not just about ...
How to Become a Reassurance Expert, on a Me-First Basis
Whew! When those around us are in fear, how can we be most in service to them?
Heroic emotional rescue is exhausting—we may not have it in us to support others when we ourselves are tired, and possibly just as afraid. We need a me-first way of healing, so that we feel better, too, even as we support others.
Teachings from the Water element can give us what we need, to stand like a lighthouse in the storm of strong emotions. These are practices that affect the body, mind, and spirit, and what’s best about them is that you don’t have to master them in order to receive significant benefit. They all ...
Water Transformation of Virtue:
Fear (Kong) to Wisdom (Zhi)
In Chinese medicine, there are Five Elements, each with a particular capacity for emotional disturbance. The Water element’s emotional disturbance is fear. Each element also has a virtue that is developed when we bring that emotion back in service to the Heart. Water’s returning to the Heart is called the Transformation of Virtue from Fear to Wisdom, via reassurance.
What is fear, what is wisdom, what is reassurance? They are physical states, and thus to understand them, we need to work through the body.
Fear (Kong) 恐
Fear is the acute awareness of the unknown in its rawest state. People who do not have a significant Water element tend to ignore what they don’t know: ...