Flexibility Within The 5 Elements
This post is technically 8.5 years old. It was written on an old blog that I kept sporadically through the years. It chronicled my travels through China in 2000 and South America in 2006. Reading through some of it now makes me want to cringe at myself..but hey, it’s all a part of the story. I stumbled upon it sort of randomly a few days ago and found a post that is EXACTLY ON POINT with what I am doing RIGHT NOW in my e-course: Listen Up! Your Body is Speaking!
The fact that this information has been percolating for that long is not a surprise to me. I recently found a handwritten journal from a yoga teacher training retreat from around the same time as this post. In it, I wrote about having a strong desire to teach people better self care techniques. It’s taken me this long to formulate a platform to do it. Life has a funny way of scheduling things, doesn’t it.
Without further ado…
May, 2009: I am sitting in a hotel at the 40th annual TCM Kongress, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.
All the best of the best are here giving lectures. Thursday starts the “real” congress, but I came early for an extra day on infertility. Rothenburg is still quiet, but the TCM’ers of the world are about to be upon us… and I can’t wait! Living in Poland for the past 2 years has not helped me make a lot of acupuncture contacts. My work in a western style fertility clinic as the only alternative therapist, leaves me with not much chance to chat Chinese Medicine so it’s nice to be around “my own kind”.
One of the speakers this week will be Lillian Bridges, author of Face Reading in Chinese Medicine. I went to her lecture last year and thought about it for months afterward, it was so exciting and totally up my ally. One of the things about it that made it so great for me is the idea that we really are simply who we are and it is written all over our faces. Let me explain a little better. One of the first things that needs to be decided on a face is the most prominent feature. The first thing you notice about someone when you see them across a room or meet them for the first time is the most prominent feature. Then, you can make a quick assessment of which element that person’s personality is strong in.
For example, say you see someone on the street and you immediately notice that he/she has really full thick eyebrows. Eyebrows are related to Liver energy. This person has, most likely a wood personality… even more so if she has a square jaw and a basic overall square face shape and has either a short, stocky or a long sinewy body. A wood personality would indicate tendencies toward anger as the most expressed emotion and a person who is logical, practical and organized. This doesn’t mean that everyone with thick eyebrows is this type, since you have to take into account the rest of the facial features for a full analysis, but it is a good place to start.
The reason I think this is so great is because it gives you (once you’ve had your face read!:)) the freedom to be you, without excuses and/or apologies.
People can make fun of a wood person for being too organized all the time, but he/she can brush it off, they know that this is part of who they are and part of what they need to feel fulfilled and happy. Every person needs to live in accordance with their inner truth. Lillian calls this “The Golden Path”. I like that.
The problem that I run into (in my own head…) with this is that the personality type can wind up BEING the excuse for certain behaviors that may or may not be acceptable. So, I started thinking about the flexibility of personality types and the idea that we have to always remember and know what our tendencies are, but that doesn’t mean that they control us. It is still our life to live, they are still our decisions to make. A facial diagnosis is not a free pass to scream at people at work simply because you are a wood personality and have a need to express anger.
In order to get into the flexibility of personality types, I started thinking more about the elements that are the basis of these types. In TCM, there are 5 elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Wood people tend toward A type personalities, Fire people tend to get easily excited and move very quickly, Earth people are very nurturing, Metal people need everything around them to be perfect and Water people are usually deep and great listeners. (Please search 5 element personalities in Google if you would like a more in depth view of each of the personality types) If we take each element and break it down into things that represent it, we might be able to infer different personality parts that are more flexible than the basic, short definitions that one usually finds attached to these things.
Take Wood for example. In nature, wood is the thickest of tree trunks and the skinniest of branches. It is an oak tree and also a willow. It is a fallen log and it is a twig. If we think about the inherent qualities of an oak tree we think: thick, strong, long lasting, difficult to destroy without serious trauma. If we think about a willow we think: soft, bending with the breeze and provides lots of shade. If we think about a large fallen log we think: difficult to move, heavy. If we think about a twig we think: easy to snap, insignificant. Now think about what all those physical qualities could translate into as personality traits: strong, determined, willed, flexible, protective, stubborn, fragile. These are seemingly or not so seemingly very different things, but we have to remember that people have many sides, many abilities and many situations during the course of their lifetime when they may choice to react in many different ways.
My point here is that, even once you feel that you have defined yourself in someway, remember that you too are capable of many different things and you are capable of redefining yourself at any time, according to your will. Don’t feel stuck in your decisions, they can always change. As a water personality, you may have days were you are like a deep lake: still, quiet, reflective and you may have days that you are more like a waterfall: rapid, loud and powerful. Use all these pieces of your personality, find out which ones work for you best. Who are you when you are feeling at your best? Find that part, and nuture it. 🙂
For more info on Lillian’s work, please see: http://lotusinstitue.com
Hope you enjoyed my little blast from the past and Thanks for reading 🙂