Wind Element: Inspiration and Power

Wind Element: Inspiration and Power

Inspiration becomes action and stillness becomes motion. Wind Element specializes in all movements.

Passing from the stability of Earth Element through the nourishment of Water and the transformation of Fire, we move into Wind.

Wind expresses in the principle of Inspiration and Activity.

Wind element organizes all of the movements that happen in the body. Everything from the movement of your joints to the expression of inspiration to action.

It expresses most prominently in autumn through the qualities dry, mobile, rough, irregular and light.

Healthy Wind

Because wind is movement, it’s also power. When you express undistorted wind element you have great, unforced capacity for work. You have great stamina and enthusiasm for life that arises naturally. You feel motivated and creative because the subtlety of wind element conveys inspiration.

Healthy wind also results in great capacity for abstraction and connection to unseen things. Focus comes naturally. Sleep comes easily and continues undisturbed through the night and you weather life’s difficulties without anxiety or excess stress.

In Excess

When wind is in excess, from the outside, it may look to others like we “have it all,” but internally there might be a monumental struggle taking place. It might look like constant striving and achieving while developing a backlog of deep stress and anxiety. Sometimes just the practice of constantly analyzing, worrying or planning develops to the point where thinking about life replaces actually living it.

If left to go on for too long, the anxiety can be debilitating, causing insomnia, fear and instability.

When Deficient

When wind runs down, we are exhausted and depleted. Our lack of enthusiasm and vigor is communicated through our feeble pulse. We lose the ability to connect to our life and circumstances.

What  To  Do?

With its tendency to inspire over-thinking, Wind Element might be the most Human of all of the elements. Living in our heads can replace living in our bodies. Multi-tasking may become an celebrated goal.

So the main remedy for Wind Element is to move back into your body and under-do. You can support this by connecting more deeply with stability and nourishment of earth and water elements. Finding rhythm in your daily life can create a channel through which Wind Element can properly express.

Specific Remedies

  • Underdoing—practice saying “no”
  • Slow yoga practice with long, deep holds; heart opening postures
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Turn off electronics after sundown
  • Nadi Shodhana pranayama
  • Wearing jewelry with stones that have a grounding effect or protect against instability and transition.
  • Sleep
  • Regularity and rhythm
  • Warm, cooked food
  • Abhyanga and bucket-bathing
  • Spending time with close, trusted, undemanding friends

What are some other ways you can think of to soothe excess Wind? Please share in the comments.

Fire Element: Transformation Embodied

Fire Element: Transformation Embodied

Words become understanding. Dinner becomes energy. Fire Element specializes in all Transformations.

Passing from the stability of Earth Element through the nourishment of Water, we come to Fire. Here we reach a turning point.

Fire expresses in the principle of transformation or digestion.

Fire element manages all of the transformations that happen in the body—from digestion of food to the conversion of ideas into understanding.

It expresses most prominently in the late summer and early autumn through the qualities hot, sharp, bright, upward-moving and spreading.

Healthy Fire

With healthy fire element, you have great capacity for affection and compassion, and you feel naturally joyful, generous and enthusiastic. Fire gifts you with intelligence and an ability to “cut through” the surface appearance of things. Therefore, you can transform what you find to reach deeper understanding.

With a healthy expression of Fire Element, your hunger matches the amount of your exertion on a given day. Digestion and elimination are regular and easy, your skin has a healthy glow and your eyes look bright and clear.

In Excess

When Fire Element over-accumulates, your intensity may overwhelm others. This happens when you are under too much pressure to achieve or if you overindulge in heating food, drink or activity. (Imagine how your body and mind would feel after a lunch of hot, spicy chili, paired with red wine while sitting out in the hot sun in the middle of summer.)

The hot and sharp quality of fire may express as anger, irritability and judgment. Surplus fire can leave you feeling hot and bothered all the time. Red, burning skin rashes might appear at the slightest provocation and you may sweat in excess. Fever and bloodshot eyes are also common expressions of excess fire element.

When Deficient

When Fire Element is deficient, you might feel cold, flat, depressed and unmotivated. Your mind can’t digest new information. A lack of drive and enthusiasm may lead to laziness and you might withdrawal into yourself like an animal retreating into its den. Lack of sufficient fire slows digestion and leaves the skin cold, clammy and grayish.

What  To  Do?

With its position in the middle of the 5 elements, fire element marks the transition between cold and hot, heavy and light, wet and dry. This means that when fire builds up to excess, connecting more deeply with stability and nourishment of earth and water elements help it to cool and settle down.

Since intensity and ambition fuel excess fire, we calm fire when we find ways to slow down and do less. Working with a team—rather than working solo for personal glory—can soothe the sharpness of excess fire.

Weak fire element looks like too much earth or water. The practices that relieve us of excess heaviness and dullness, such as exercise, waking early and cooking with spices build fire element, stimulating digestion and helping us think more clearly and handle our emotions more easily.

Specific Remedies

For excess fire:

  • Under-achieving and true “team-work” (especially when there is no personal “reward”)
  • Slow yoga practice with long, deep holds; heart opening postures
  • Chandra Namaskara asana sequence (Moon Salutation)
  • Moon-bathing–spending time under the full moon
  • Simhasana—“Roaring Lion” pose: This is particularly good for physical heat symptoms. Sit in a kneeling posture with the knees spread. Place the palms of the hands on the floor between the knees with the fingers pointing back towards the body. Lean forward and inhale deelply. Stick the tongue out and exhale with a strong and steady “HAAAAA” sound, drawing in the belly as you exhale.
  • Wearing jewelry or malas made from pearl, mother-of-pearl, moonstone, turquoise, labradorite or silver. (not an exhaustive list ;-))

For deficient fire:

  • Exercise
  • Surya Namaskara asana sequence (Sun Salutation)
  • Ginger tea or ginger used in cooking
  • Most culinary herbs increase fire element (and therefore, agni)
  • Light, easily-digested food
  • Media-fasting—minimizing use of media entertainment such as movies, music, books, etc.
  • Wearing jewelry made from copper, rudraksha beads, sunstone or natural red coral. (there are other stones that would work as well)
Water Element: Connecting to Nourishment

Water Element: Connecting to Nourishment

Cool, lightly sweet limeade, on a hot summer’s day. Salty chicken soup on a cold winter’s evening. Nourishment is the super power of Water Element.

Once we’ve established some stability and sunk in our roots with earth element, we turn to water element for nourishment.

Water element is the principle of cohesion.

And in the body, this emerges as nourishment and growth. Water element also regulates lubrication and connection, protecting the body and mind from the destructive nature of wind and fire elements.

Water element is most predominant in the spring-time or during rainy season. It cools, moistens, adheres, soothes, softens, smoothes, dulls and spreads.

When you express free-flowing water element, you connect easily to other people. So, emotionally it helps you feel content, express yourself calmly and allow things to “roll off your back.” Since water element allows for assimilation, it permits your food and experiences to become part of you.

Healthy water element insulates the body with a healthy fat, lubricates the joints and mucosa and produces clear, smooth skin. It produces wide, open, non-judgmental eyes and smooth, fluid body movement.

Too much water and you might get bogged down. But, too little and you shrivel up. There’s a sweet spot.

Remember that Water Element is essentially about cohesion and nourishment. Nourishment comes in many forms. Food is the most obvious, but it also comes through connecting with your life and experiences more deeply and through good relationships with other people.

However, sometimes you might find that even though you have excellent, nutritious food, amazing experiences and loving, engaged friends and family, but you still can’t find a sense of satisfaction and satiation.

So the best way to support water element is to nourish yourself. But you have to make sure you are connecting to and assimilating that nourishment. (This is done partly with the help of Fire Element, which we will get into next.)

Some Specific Remedies

For excess water:

  • Exercise—particularly working up a sweat so the channels become unblocked
  • Dry, light foods
  • Cook with herbs: ginger, white and black pepper, clove, cumin, coriander, fennel (these last 3 also make a great digestive-stimulating tea)
  • Spending time in the sun or a dry climate
  • Surya Namaskara (sun salutation)
  • Twist postures and digestion strengthening postures—such as pawanmuktasana II sequence, uttkatasana (“awkward” or chair pose) or boat pose

For deficient water:

  • Hydrating fluids such as cow’s milk, coconut juice and coconut milk
  • Drinking water so it actually hydrates you
  • Ghee, sweet grains (such as wheat), red grapes
  • Spending time in person with loved ones
  • Abhyanga and Bucket-bathing
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Chandra Namaskara (moon salutation)
  • Moon-bathing (think sun-bathing, but under the light of the moon)

How do you nourish yourself?

What things do you do that feel nourishing and soulful for you? Even if you do them rarely, in the comments, list anything that you do that makes you feel more connected to the flow of life and to community.

Earth Element: Building Stability

Earth Element: Building Stability

Feel your feet against the floor and sink in some roots. Today we’re going to start looking more deeply at my favorite concept I’ve learned to use in my years of practicing Ayurveda and Yoga: the 5 elements.

As I mentioned in my last post, the 5 elements–earth, water, fire, wind and space–combine to compose our entire reality. And although all 5 are always present in all things, the predominance of one or another bestows each thing with its uniqueness.

The poetry alone of this way of seeing the world first caught my attention. But when I realized that I could connect with this reality from a feeling, intuitive place, I felt really bowled over and filled with awe and inspiration. When I started to understand that feeling grounded and stable depended upon my relationship to earth element and that fire element fueled my passion and transformation, it changed my life.

So, today let’s talk about Earth.

Each of the elements can be seen as a sort of set of qualities, and Earth element expresses as regular (symmetrical), stable, heavy, dense, and hard. It’s classically illustrated as a golden, glowing cube of light.

Earth element expresses through the principle of stability. It helps you feel grounded and rooted, but not rigid. With the help of Earth Element, you can define clear boundaries, relax deeply and make well-considered decisions without wavering in carrying them out. Earth element supports commitment and confidence.

Seasonally, Earth predominates in the mid to late winter and at the beginning of spring. It shows up in your dependable friends or institutions that have persevered for ages. A leisurely walk in an old-growth forest offers deep heart-rooted Earth Element stability.

When deficient

A lack of earth element can leaves you ungrounded and undependable. You may become anxious, emaciated and flighty. A deficiency of earth element makes you “spacy” and unreliable and can make you lose touch with basic reality.

In excess

A surplus of earth element can make you feel dull, stubborn, depressed or despondent. The hard, dry quality of earth element may block the channels of your body resulting in poor digestion and an inability to perceive the world clearly.

What to do?

Remember that Earth Element is essentially about stability. Finding more stability in your life mostly boils down to regularity.

When your schedule has a regular rhythm, your body and mind can anticipate the movement of the day without fear. Your nervous system expends much less energy just getting through the day.

Small reminders to pause in even a moment of stillness can reestablish stability and grounding.

Even if you discover that you experience too much earth element in your day-to-day life, creating rhythm in your schedule will still support you—as long as you make exercise part of your daily routine.

In its simplest form, a daily routine includes a regular waking time, regular mealtimes and a regular bedtime.

Some More Remedies

For deficient earth:

  • Earth Element reminders–try sketching the golden cube geometric form of Earth Element, wear golden yellow clothing or wear an Earth Element inspired piece of jewelry. 
  • Grounding foods including healthy fats, root vegetables and, if you eat them, animal products.
  • Forward-bending yoga postures 
  • Yoga Nidra–a guided meditation/relaxation practice that you do lying down! Click here for a free version of one I recorded to support healing
  • Making commitments (and keeping them) 😉

For excess earth:

  • Exercise—particularly getting your heart-rate up a bit
  • Warm, well-spiced foods using spices such as: ginger, white and black pepper, clove, cumin, coriander, fennel (these last 3 also make a great digestive-stimulating tea)
  • Inducing a light sweat in a steam room
  • Dry-brushing–using a natural bristle brush to gently brush your skin all over your body before bathing
  • Twisting yoga postures
  • Digestion strengthening postures—leg-lifts, plank pose, etc

For more ways to stay connected to the Elements, sign up for my newsletter and receive a sweet guide to Honoring Your Essence.

 

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Playing with Symbols

Playing with Symbols

 Imagine yourself walking, barefoot, into a softly-lit, wood-floored yoga studio. The walls are painted a warm, golden yellow and the air is lightly scented by the flowers standing in a ceramic vase on the simple altar at one end of the room.

The floor feels cool, smooth and supportive under your feet and the almost cave-like space welcomes you with a sense of peace and safety.

You have just connected with the energy of Earth Element.

All day long, the colors, shapes and forms in your surroundings profoundly impact your sense of well-being—for better OR for worse. Artists and healers throughout time have understood this well, and developed and explored systems of symbols and forms which nourish the mind, body and spirit.

Perhaps you’ve seen a beautiful geometric image on the walls of a yoga studio or the office of an healer or therapist. These forms are like prayers in visual form which point your awareness toward an aspect of Nature and natural cycles. They are symbols, but they are also more than that. They don’t just call to mind an idea (like “stop” when you see a red octagon), they embody an experience.

Some of these forms represent huge concepts, or even the entire universe. But many are much simpler. For example, the same sense of stability and stillness that you feel with your bare feet on cool, rich soil finds expression in the form of a golden cube of light, the sacred geometric form of Earth Element.

Stable, symmetrical, solid, regular, dependable: these qualities define Earth Element. But, when you envision this luminous golden cube, you don’t merely think of a list of adjectives, you feel it with your body. You experience it with your whole being.

That’s what makes sacred symbols different from a stop sign, or the triangle-skirted stick figure on a bathroom door.

You feel it.

Maybe you’ve heard the advice “what you think about, you become.” In other words, that which you spend your time focusing on (including symbols and images), becomes your reality. And it can be much more tangible and specific than just “stay positive.”

You get  to choose what  lives in your awareness.

There are many different (and over-lapping) systems of symbols that artists, seers and healers have used throughout time. But let’s start with a simple set of forms that you can connect with in your body and life…

The 5 Elements of yoga and Ayurveda:

Space  Hosting and Openness—a perfectly clear sphere or a sphere of swirling points of color.
Wind   Movement—a luminous, smoky-green form like a cube with a pyramid at the top and bottom.
Fire   Transformation—a vibrant red inverted pyramid.
Water   Nourishment and Cohesion—a silver moon sliver surrounded by an iridescent bubble of light.
Earth   Stability—a golden cube of light.

Spirals:

It’s hard to find an ancient culture that didn’t recognize the special energy of spirals. From ancient Asia, to the Americas and Europe, artists used spirals to signify growth, expansion or contraction. The pattern appears in Nature, from the structure of a shell or growth pattern of a fern down to the very DNA of all living things.

The symbol of a spiral has an almost shamanic power, indicating the movement of your soul towards the divine or universal consciousness while maintaining balance and stability.

Wings:

Of course wings symbolize flight and the ability to transcend, but their relationship to Wind Element imparts a sense of playfulness and creativity as well.

They can also indicate lightness and sweetness, like the translucent fairy wings that we made as children from panty-hose and wire hangers. Or they can remind us that we are powerful and free, like the wing-inspired insignia across Wonder Woman’s breasts.

So, now you might be wondering…

What  do I  do with all of this?

Here are a few ideas:

  • If you haven’t already, click here to take a short quiz to find out which Element is
    lacking in your experience.
  • Play with these forms by drawing or doodling them.
  • Take notice where these forms show up in your life. What kind of art catches
    your eye? What colors do you prefer?
  • Try “Wearing Your Medicine” by choosing colors or talismans to act as Awareness Reminders
    while you go through your day.
  • Sign up for my newsletter and get bi-monthly inspiration in your inbox.
  • Can you think of other ideas? Are you interested in commissioning your own personalized talisman? Let me know at susan@susanfauman.com or fill out the contact form below.

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Contact Me!

The Time is Now

The Time is Now

Something happened to me about a year ago. After many years of telling myself—and anyone who would listen—that I wanted to bring art-making back into the center of my life, I finally actually did. It was as if my heart suddenly whispered in my ear, “Now! Now is the moment.” And there was no possibility of ignoring this quiet, insistent imperative.

But, why? Why “Now” after so many years of “Soon”?

One of my friends insisted it was a matter of astrology. “Well, it’s not surprising, you just entered your Venus sub-cycle. Venus governs aesthetics and creativity. It’s no wonder you’re feeling the call of your creativity…”

My initial thought was a bit different. As a mother of a child just entering into the world of school, friends, activities-without-mom, I suddenly had the time to come back to myself a little bit. And I came back different.

Or more the same. More me. More stripped of the expectations I had piled up around myself for who I should be.

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Being a mother brings the bittersweet recognition that my days are numbered. I only have so much time left in the day, in the year, in this lifetime.

And while I have no doubt that healing is in my blood, for many years I sold myself the notion that medicine is a more “noble” pursuit than making art. That art-making is too self-indulgent and, maybe, unimportant.

My secret love of being “in the know” convinced me that my self-worth depended upon being an authority. A subconscious fear of being found out as “just an artist,” kept me defensive and on-edge. And those attitudes turned my healing work from an opportunity to smooth out the bumpy parts of my ego through service to humanity, into a way to crystallize and solidify my hard edges into sharpened little points of pseudo-certainty.

And nothing kills creativity and compassion more than (pseudo) certainty.

But maybe our healing work as artists sometimes just takes a more oblique and abstract form. Maybe I won’t have to come “back to medicine.” Perhaps the softening into myself infuses my talismans with a palpable healing energy of their own.

And maybe none of that really matters all that much. Because the truth is, these days I get to wake up most mornings and spend most of the day doing exactly what I love. And if that isn’t good for the world, I don’t know what is.

 

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