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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.

From Gallop to Graze

horseMy transition from gallop to graze began several months ago! It turns out, the free-spirited, high-energy year of the Yang Wood Horse took me for a ride! I thought I was ready for the 2014 Horse’s sprint! After all, sprinting through life has been my M.O. or modus operandi. I have always been an eager learner, open to new ideas and ways of thinking. And I have always been a sprinter. One would think, then, that the Year of the Horse would support my sprinting energy. What happened was quite the opposite! Joining energetic forces with the Horse energy wore me down, forcing me to take a good look at how I have run my energy all my life. That high energy, so valued and rewarded by our culture, turns out, really doesn’t support good health or mindfulness.  Of course, I have been aware of this for years; however, I believed I was sprinting with mindfulness, appreciating the moment, stopping to smell the roses. But, wait a minute……maybe not so much as I thought.

I frequently use the analogy that life’s lessons are like peeling an onion. Each layer of learningOnion02
peels away to reveal a new level of awareness. At certain times throughout our lives, if we are paying attention, we are made aware of another layer waiting to be peeled back. When my energy aligned with the Horse energy, I lost the race, or won, depending on which perspective you take. I was unexpectedly forced to peel away the layer of belief that said, “sprinting works for me.”

I began to notice I had less stamina to do the things I did on an everyday basis. My vitality for certain activities, ways of doing, and thinking would quickly burn out. I was being challenged and it was distressing! The familiar way I ran my energy was no longer working! I was getting less Orb02done in a day and feeling more tired. Ignoring these changes, I galloped toward new learning and signed up for a series of classes on expanding consciousness.  Of course, once they began, I questioned why I had committed to weekly classes, with assignments, when I was feeling so “un-energetic!” And then, the irony of it began to reveal itself: I was taking these classes on expanding consciousness, while being challenged to expand my own consciousness! Of course, the timing was perfect! These classes showed up just in time to support me in a transition I wasn’t even yet aware of!

The Sheep/Goat officially grazed in February 4, finding me continuing to evaluate my Ram01
engagement in life, based on what my body is telling me. I have always felt a deep connection to the earth and to my body. The Horse energy challenged me to listen to and respect that connection on a level deeper than I had before – another layer of the onion!  How perfect that my personal transition coincides with the transition from gallop to graze.

Although far from easygoing, this Sheep year bodes for a gentler and more stable time. This Yin Wood Sheep year is considered a symbol of optimism and flexibility for compromise and progress. And I plan to graze on that!






The Year of the Free Spirited Horse

This is the year of the free spirited Horse. The Horse came galloping in on the lunar Chinese New Year at midnight, January 30, 2014. The seventh sign of the Chinese zodiac, the Horse, a Fire Element, loves life and adventure, is charming, smart and popular. Quick in all he does, he is wise and talented with a cheerful disposition and a gregarious nature. He can also be very headstrong, stubborn and quick to anger.

HorsesThe Chinese Element in this Horse year is Wood. Wood fuels Fire so we can expect the energy to be more intense, willful and independent. What does this mean for each of us? While characteristics of our Chinese animal have their own specific interactions with the horse, no one is exempt from this fast paced and active year. Will this energetic year serve to increase our already perceived busyness or might it support a greater sense of free spiritedness?  Since I’m voting for free spirited, I decided to explore what that actually means. With horses, we might think wild and independent. When attributed to people, definitions are many and include: unconventional, independent or uninhibited; those with highly individual or unique attitudes, lifestyles or imaginations; nonconformists. Perhaps, in all of that, free spirited is being true to yourself.

What do you consider free spirited? I immediately think of the playful, uninhibited energy  of Kidschildren. Does being a free spirit exempt you from the burden and cares of everyday life? I think of a friend who quit her job to follow her passion. Are free spirits risk takers? If so, they are certainly not exempt from responsibilities and worries. Maybe its an attitude!

Attitude decides the size of our dreams and influences our determination when we are faced with new challenges. Jim Rohn

While continuing to explore the concept of what it is to be or become a free spirit, I found several articles that shared a variety of perspectives on the subject. The following is a compilation of some of those thoughts; a few may be surprise you. They may also raise awareness of any stereotypical thinking that stands in the way of our stepping out of the comfortable, predefined roles in which we tend to live. Additionally, these viewpoints might reinforce how difficult it is for most of us to live the life of a free spirit, even for occasional moments, in a culture that rewards conformity.

  1. Free Spirits dream and dream big. They have the courage to follow those dreams. FreeSpirit
  2. They identify barriers that may be standing in their way and then find solutions for moving past them.
  3. Free Spirits live in the moment. In our day-to-day lives, with our schedules and deadlines, living in the moment can seem almost impossible. However, noticing the moments in which we live seems attainable.
  4. Free Spirits keep their self-importance in check. It has been said that ego is the death of authenticity.
  5. Free Spirits honor other people’s freedom. As we seek our own personal freedom, it is critical to remember to be generous with others who are also seeking theirs.
  6. Free Spirits get to know not only themselves but the world around them.
  7. Free Spirits laugh, especially at themselves.
  8. They put a high value on free choice. Everyone else seems to have an opinion of how we should live our lives. A free spirited person does what he or she thinks is right, not what others tell them is right. 
  9. Free Spirits develop their own unique vision of life and the world, while remaining open to discussion and compromise.
  10. They have the courage to try things that other people think are impossible, unimportant, or impractical.
  11. Free Spirits trust themselves and trust in the natural flow of life; they trust in the unknown.

DancerUse the energy of this year of the Horse to get in touch with your own free spirit. I hope above list is helpful. You can also begin by applying the Feng Shui Bagua to assess the Children and Creativity area of your home. While this area represents your own children and any other children in your life you are close to, it also represents your inner child. How often do we visit the creative playfulness of our inner child? Locate that area in your home. How is it used? Any clutter or stagnant energy there? Once you’ve evaluated and made the necessary adjustments, set an intention about how you will embrace your free spirit this year. Let your inner child be your guide. A free spirit is easily recognized by his or her vitality, warmth, and openness. Do whatever allows you to get in touch with your aliveness. I plan to join you in that endeavor. Welcome to 2014!