At the heart of Chinese medicine theory, a practice created over 2,000 years ago, is the theory of Yin, Yang and the concept of the “Five Element Theory”. Five Element Theory states that all energy in the world can be divided into “five movements or phases” – or, “the Elements”: the five fundamental qualities of matter in the universe.
Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal
Each Element has distinct characteristics and qualities that we can observe in nature, from their physical properties as well as their associations to the different seasons that transition throughout the year.
Below is a summary that we will come back to throughout this series:
- Water: Connected to winter, initiating a slowing down to be still and reflective.
- Wood: Attributed to spring, a much more Yang energetic that is emergent and directed. Think of it this way - sprouts shoot upward out of the soil towards the light and we feel motivated to forage ahead with plans and projects.
- Fire: With summer, where we experience warmer temperatures and feel inclined to be more extroverted with less inhibition.
- Earth: Connected to the late summer, crisp mornings and warm afternoons, inviting us to savor the sweetness and welcome the harvest.
- Metal: Connected to autumn and the invitation to come inward and bring closure to a year of growth. Much like the leaves that fall, we feel called to let go of what we no longer need in order to prepare for new beginnings as the seasons and our spirits prepare to cycle again.
Though observation and metaphor, the Elements were further defined with specific associations to the human body, each having a unique Yin and Yang organ and meridian, as well as a particular color, sound and emotion etc. The categorization of the Elements has proven to assist Chinese medicine practitioners in having a whole system in their skill set that has the capacity to view each Element individually as well as all of them together in relationship to better observe patients and diagnose their physical and mental-emotional health. Thus supporting the entire wholeness of the individual.
Using the 5 Elements to Determine Personality: The World’s Oldest Personality Test
While each of us is an embodiment of all five of the elements, it was discovered that though noticing behavior the Elements could also be used to define personality traits, and thereby becoming the worlds oldest personality typing test. Believing that each person while having all of the elements present within, typically has one dominant Element which is more prevalent than the others.
This forms the early development of particular repetitive patterns, thoughts, coping mechanisms and emotions as we seek to specific requirements to be met as we move through the world. Through identifying strengths and deficiencies that exist within each of the element personality types, practitioners of Chinese medicine and acupuncturists can determine the main elemental nature of the individual to then further support them to greater health.
In my own practice, I have used these principles to better support my patients. Through asking them a few questions, it is as though I can know my patient that I’ve just met in a much deeper way. This enables me to build greater rapport and trust with them from the very beginning. By Identifying their Five Element Type I can speak to the essence of how they encounter stress both physical and emotional in their body allowing me to creating an individualized plan that allows them to feel seen and supported right away.
Being Supported by the Elements to Achieve Your Goals
The Five Elements are a portal to deeper understanding of who you are and why you are the way you are along with a complete guidance system to designing a life in alignment with your inherent strengths and values. It has been my experience both for myself personally and my patients that when we tap into this medicine it helps to confirm and support your body, mind and inner knowing so that we are able to more easily come into harmony with our life’s pursue to create a life that we love.
Teaching my patients to engage with their “Five Element type”, identifying and fostering their innate gifts and strengths so that they become supportive threads that emerge to help inform them of directions and opportunities that are in their best interest. They no longer feel that they need to second guess themselves or their intuition, because they immediately know what is the most supportive to them in that moment as it relates to them and their “Element type”.
One of the most amazing things regarding the working with these Elements has been watching my patients easily release guilt, shame and comparison from others. As they can identify how another person is a different Element type from them and therefore has an entirely different set of skills and values that supports them. Instead, they get to stay in their own lane, problem solving and trusting themselves to achieve their goals on their own terms and definitions of success.
Essentially what this Five Element work has helped me do is stop asking myself “what’s wrong with me” and has empowered me to take a stand for who I am, and honoring my alchemy so that it works for me, my life, my relationships and assists me in bring my desires full circle to their manifestation out in the world. I want that for you too.
In the upcoming article in this series, I will be sharing a version of the quiz I have each of my new patients take as well as an introduction to each of the Five Element Personality types. If you can’t wait and you just need to know right now, you can head over to my website https://ashleyabbs.com/5-element-alchemy-guidebook/ to take the quiz and download the guidebook to learn which one you are as well as an in-depth look at why you are the way you are.