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Travel and the Five Elements

36746077 - five elements, creation and destructive circlesThere is a compelling connection between travel and the Five Elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. This ancient Five Element theory is an essential foundation for Chinese philosophy, medicine, martial arts, and Feng Shui. Each Element has its own characteristics and each has an affiliation with different aspects of nature: direction, season, climate, color, and shape. They are also believed to govern our physical, emotional and spiritual existence. In Chinese medicine, they are associated with our organs, sensory organs, body parts and emotions. And, each Element corresponds to specific personality characteristics.

All of us have a constitutional affinity to one or more of these Elements. The following is a general description of the personality traits associated with each Element. Take note of which Element(s) you resonate to and its influence on how you might approach a beach vacation.

71570134 - young woman walking away alone in a deserted beach on an autumn day. If your primary Element is Water, you tend to be introspective, solitary and imaginative. You are more a thinker than a doer. You are dependable, infinitely resourceful, and single-minded in pursuit of your goals. Difficult or demanding situations do not cause you to hesitate or retreat because you have a firm, unshakable sense of self. You follow the path before you with strength, purpose and determination. Your strength lies in your ability to remain flexible and adaptable. The Water personality takes long walks on the beach.

Action compels the Wood personality. You are bold, decisive and perform well under pressure. YouBeachRun are more a doer than a thinker. You are driven by the need to stay in motion and reach new heights. You constantly seek out new challenges. You love adventure and like to strike out on your own. Wood energy is very health-focused, ambitious, and fiercely independent. You are entrepreneurial and your potential is unlimited. Running on the beach is your preference.

46421713 - smiling friends playing volleyball at sandy beachExcitement, enthusiasm and generosity drive the Fire personality. Fire is the force that generates passion, compassion and creativity. If you are energized by Fire, you are filled with a blazing love of life. You value interaction and thrive on drama and excitement. You are fun loving and your natural joy and exuberance excites everyone around you. The Fire personality plays volleyball on the beach.

 People with dominant Earth energy are the peacemakers of the world. You are nurturing,Sand sympathetic and accommodating. You tend to be practical and down to earth and enjoy both anticipating and meeting the needs of others. You value tradition, loyalty, security and predictability. Your strength comes from your ability to nurture and promote connectedness with others. Earth people build sandcastles.

Those with Metal as their predominant energy tend to be36184316 - beach cabana on a maldivian island well organized, analytical, and disciplined. You hold yourself and others to the highest standards, always striving for excellence. People associate you with elegance and refinement. You love to create beauty and value ritual and ceremony. Metal personalities tend to be visionaries, seeing potential in everyone and everything around them. You travel in luxury.

If you found traits in all of them that you recognize in yourself, it is because, in our complexity as humans, all Five Elements exist in each of us.

A wonderful example of how this works is taken from the book, Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield, L. Ac. and Efrem Korngold, L. Ac., O. M. D.: “When we need to take action, it is our Wood that kicks in to gear. When it is time to celebrate in the achievement of our goals, our Fire aspect takes charge. When we are able to let go of old habits and values to prepare for a new stage of our life, it is Metal that provides the power that enables us to release. When our efforts demand we stop, rest, take stock of what we have done and rededicate ourselves to a fresh purpose, our Water aspect gives us the renewed vitality and will to carry on. When the challenges threaten to overturn our efforts or deflect us from our path, the grounding energy of our Earth aspect returns us to an even keel.”

As we take time to better know ourselves, we begin to more easily recognize the one Element that predominates and guides our choices and behaviors. While time and resources influence our travel choices, notice what environments consistently speak to you. A person whose predominate Element is Water might prefer to spend their vacation time deepening their spiritual practice or taking a personal retreat from the world. A Wood person prefers a vacation that allows for a variety of outdoor activities or the opportunity to explore unknown territory. The Fire personality is drawn to locations that provide interaction, fun and excitement. A golfing vacation or one that offers cooking classes tends to be preferred by the Earth personality. The Metal personality is most comfortable upscale hotels, resorts or cruise lines with well-organized activities.

There are always exceptions, of course, depending on what has been going on in your life. If you are a Fire person who has been “burning the candle” at both ends, you might need to find a more solitary destination for your vacation in order to get your Fire energy under better control and bring it back in balance. It can be instructive to give thought to what type of vacation you find yourself gravitating to. Will that environment nourish your Element energy, calm it down if it feels on overload, or replenish if it’s feeling drained. In Feng Shui, as in the Five Elements, it’s always about supporting and nurturing to maintain a healthy balance. Similarly, we travel to recharge, refresh, revitalize and reconnect with ourselves.

 “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

 If you have the travel bug, but think you don’t have the time or resources, check out www.vacationsooner.com to discover how you can take 4 and 5 star vacations at wholesale prices! Then contact me at hinda@livingyourintention.com with any questions.

 “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag


From Earth to Metal

It’s that time again! The days are becoming shorter and the nights cooler. Based on the Five Element Theory, we’re experiencing the shift from Earth to Metal. This theory postulates these five elements make up all matter that influence everything and everyone: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.

Chart2Water is considered the storehouse of vital essence. It is responsible for growth, development and reproduction and promotes introspection, persistence and motivation.Water is the winter element. The next element, Wood, reflects growth; it carries the seed of new life and is associated with spring. Fire symbolizes the warmth, brilliance and vitality of summer. Earth brings fullness, fertility, order and stability; it is the center from which we operate. When we are centered and grounded, we are better able to embrace inevitable change. Earth is an element of transmutation; it represents late summer – those last warm days before cool weather sets in. The Metal element represents the harvest of fall. It reflects a gathering of soul and spirit and brings decline and contraction with shorter days and colder nights.

And, of course, we see this in progress as we watch our gardens give one last eruption of beauty before dying back in preparation for the dormant rest period over the winter months. We transition from basking in the warm sun to basking in the exuberant fall colors – one last hurrah before the leaves fall.

43282971 - halloween pumpkin head jack lantern on wooden backgroundI typically resist this shift from Earth to Metal until I can no longer ignore the Halloween decorations and pumpkins that suddenly dominate the landscape! I release my hold on the Earth energy and allow myself to become a full-blown participant in the activities appropriate with the fall season. A burst of energy compels me to re-organize my closet. I put away summer clothes, shoes and bags while deciding what stays for another season and what gets recycled. I’m infused with the sense of order the Metal (autumnal energy) element brings. I organize my closet and my kitchen. I pull out the slow cooker; squash soup replaces tuna salad. Fall is officially here and its Metal energy insists on change and a sense of order I can no longer deny.

I begin my garden clean up to assist it in preparation for the coming transition to the Water element of Jimmieswinter. I change out my pots, replacing those plants that succumbed to the changes in temperature with plants that enjoy the cooler nights. I add pumpkins and gourds. While I I know, of course, this natural evolution will happen with or without me, those outdoor pots are a visible statement that I am no longer in resistance.

What other inevitable changes in our life do we resist? How long do we put off succumbing to them? And when we finally do, how do we acknowledge and celebrate the fact that we have actually moved forward? Each season brings the opportunity to look inward at what change or changes are waiting to be acknowledged. We can use the Earth energy of the changing seasons as a gently reminder to look at where and what we might be resisting in our lives and then use the elemental energy of the season to support us in making the transition. There is a rhythm to everything in life; there is a time for growth, and a time for rest. Being in the flow acknowledges these life cycles. And we are reminded of the truth of the Feng Shui Principle: nature is our model.

The Season of Gratitude

VegNovember arrives, ushering in the season of gratitude.Throughout history, fall has been a time for celebrating and giving thanks for Earth’s bountiful harvest. While the nature of these celebrations has evolved through the centuries, the spirit of the occasion remains the same: to reflect on life’s gifts.

In anticipation, we reminisce about our blessings as we plan how our Thanksgiving Day will be spent: whether to be a host or a guest; what traditional dishes to serve and with whom we will spend this day of gratefulness. For some, this Thanksgiving will have new meaning and a different energy. There are those who have experienced the loss of a spouse, a parent or a dear friend; a deep void will be felt as those who are no longer with us are lovingly remembered. Thanks will be given for their presence in our lives. Others will experience an expansion of gratitude as the birth of a child or a grandchild is joyfully acknowledged. Loved ones may be absent because of distance; others will embrace the addition of a new family member or friend to their Thanksgiving festivities.

Regardless of our individual situations, Thanksgiving provides an auspicious time to gather with those we hold dear and share in gratitude for both the gifts and the challenges that brought us to this day.1292

 “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie