THE 5 ELEMENTS
The practice of Ayurveda is designed to promote human happiness, health and creative growth. Ayurveda believes that everything in this universe is made up of five great elements or building blocks. These are earth, water, fire, air, and ether. The very source of what we are made up of are so much a part of our everyday lives and being, yet most of us do not even consider how inextricably linked they are to our mental, physical and emotional functioning.
This element is the emptiness between matter. Ether is the space in which everything happens. It is the field that is simultaneously the source of all matter and the space in which it exists. The chief characteristic of ether is sound. Here sound represents the entire spectrum of vibration. When we pay attention to sound, we are mindful. Metaphysically, mindfulness is the awareness of the space around you. It is consciousness.
The air element represents the capacity for motion or kinetic energy. Air represents all forces and the movement that transpires as a result of those forces. In the body, air is expressed in the form of motion and life. The force allowing blood to circulate, breath to move, nerve impulses to glide, thoughts to flow and joints to propel our movement through the world are all possible because of the element air. Air is the force behind all motion. Disturbances in the functions of air result in aberrant motion. Air flows freely in through a body and mind that has cultivated an attitude of surrender and faith in both self and the divine.
The fire element represents the capacity for heat and light. Fire is the generator of energy in the body just as the sun is the generator of energy for the earth. Fire represents all sources of energy in the world including solar, hydroelectric, nuclear, fossil fuel and bio-diesel. Fire is the process of liberating energy from its source. The fire that provides our body with the capacity to digest food. The fire that ignites the intellect, digests ideas and allows for understanding. The fire of perception that digests visual impression into recognizable images. The fire that energizes and invigorates the body adding color to the body. The fire that digests touch and sunlight and gives off the radiance associated with healthy skin. Because fire has a destructive quality, in the body it is always mixed with a small amount of water to keep it from destroying the tissues.
The water element represents fluidic matter and the cohesive principle of physics. . Water is the protector of the body. It provides the body with its most basic nourishment. Water protects against the dissolution of the ether element, the roughness and motion of the air element and the heat of the fire element. The water element sooths all pain and inflammation in the body.
The Earth element represents solid matter and the structure of the universe. Earth gives form to the human body and to all of creation. The structure provided by earth is the conduit through which the other elements flow. All elements are born of ether and contained within earth. It is stability, permanence and rigidity such as that of rocks. In our bodies, parts such as bones, teeth, cells and tissues are manifestations of the earth. Earth is considered a stable element. The Earth element is dense, heavy, hard and principle of inertia.