The Four Elements

Posted on in Healthy Living by Debra Silverman

Balancing the Inner
and the Outer


The four elements are the source of all creation. They show up in the physicalm world, and with equal power, they show up in our psyches. They are the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the life-giving force we call the sun. They’re our emotions (water), minds (air), bodies (earth), and our deepest truths and passions (fire). But just as the elements can save us, they can equally destroy us.

The distortions of the elements in the outer world—political strife, war, pollution, and global warming—are nothing more than a reflection of how we mishandle our inner worlds. We disrespect the elements, abusing them in the outer world, the same as we do in our psyches.

There’s no denying that we lack emotional wisdom. Many of us never learned the value of tears, sensitivity, and caring as the natural law of our humanness. We have forgotten the value of clean water and allowed for its contamination while embracing “more is better.” We don’t consider the next seven generations, as the Indians would have taught us, and we ignore the wisdom of our elders. To put it bluntly, we are a shortsighted society.

Let’s Consider the Elements

Water is represented by our emotional bodies. Collectively, we tend to withhold and awkwardly deal with pain, death, and sadness. As a result of this, and many other factors in North America, depression is the epidemic of our times.

The element of air is represented by our minds, which we overvalue in our schools. Too often, overactive minds can impose a negative

view on everything and everyone: I am not smart. I cannot trust my own instinct. I am not as good as those who scored higher on their tests.

The mind has become one of the central figures that will determine whether we can balance our inner and outer worlds. Concepts such as mindfulness are beginning to take hold, but their use is still in its infancy. In school, we don’t learn how to govern our inner world, and collectively, we have lost the right use of the mind—in service to wisdom. In the outer world, the air on our planet has been deeply affected by climate change, pollution, and ozone layer degradation.

And then there is earth, represented by food and money. Both have become a fixation of our modern society, but not in a positive way. In times of old, we grew our own food organically with natural seeds, and we shared and traded our goods in harmony. Look at the way the earth element has been disrespected and destroyed in the outer world today.

Many times I’ve been asked, “How can I make a difference on our planet? How can I help the situations that seem to be overwhelming?” My answer is always the same. Take care of the elements inside you—in your heart, in your body, in your relationships, in your mind—and watch the world change. That’s the fundamental basis of my work: the hope that I can change the world from the inside out.

This brings us to fire. Inner fire is represented by the activist who wants to get up and do something. In the outer world, fire is the sun and its radiance. In the inner, it’s burning passion and the truth in our hearts. But sunspot activity has dimmed the radiance of the sun more than we’ve ever seen before, and a deep-seated lethargy in our hearts has stifled our passion for change. People are using fire in the wrong way—to burn out their adrenals with stress and rage, and drinking firewater. The healthy use of fire has been abandoned.

Find Your Missing Element, Find Balance

A growing number of people are studying meditation (water), reading books (air), doing yoga (earth), and learning how to stand up for themselves and be independent (fire)—all in an effort to assist the impetus for transformation. This is good, but they’re doing it without realizing that the change required must begin from within. It’s not enough to read, eat, watch, and try. What’s required is to know the power of your choice. Choose to be the agent of change, and do so by falling in love with who you are and where we are as a collective. We are on the brink of radical change.

Whichever one of these things you don’t do—if you neglect to research (air), if you avoid eating healthy food (earth), if you never exercise (fire), or if you can’t find time to meditate (water)—this is how you find your missing element. There are many more examples of what you might be missing.

Our planet, a beautiful mix of all the elements, is in trouble. Our world is tipping out of balance, and we’re the only ones who can introduce the change required to save it. There are seven billion people on this planet. Will you play your role in the tapestry of life in respect to the elements? It will make all the difference in the world. Don’t ever underestimate the power of one in tandem with the right use of the elements. The world was created by the four elements, and it will either be destroyed by our inability to dance with them, or it will be healed—it’s our choice.

Debra Silverman works on an individual basis, as well as in workshops, to impart emotional wisdom through a simplified language that describes the qualities of water, air, earth, and fire. She received an MA in clinical psychology from Antioch University.

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