We can benefit from Ayurvedic understanding of the Great Five Elements to not only to understand the outer universe, but also our inner universe – our unique mind-body personality. According to Ayurveda, the relationship of the Elements with each other greatly determines our natural constitution, health, and illness; This influences even little things like our habits, hobbies, and spiritual inclinations.
When Elements combine together,
they form bio-psychic forces calledDoshas
While Dosha-based constitution is a standard in Ayurvedic tradition, the great teacher of Ayurveda – Rishi Sushruta – also elaborated upon Five Element-based constitution.
Being a part of Nature, we are ourselves are an expression of these five attributes. It should be noted that each of us contain and express the qualities of all the five elements. However, our particular constitution, or nature, has dominant elements.
If you do not know about the doshas and your particular dosha. Click here
If you are dominant in the Space Element, the ether state of matter, then you will possess a soft and light weight body. The various openings in the body and internal spaces will be large and well-defined. You will possess great understanding of sound and multiple tones. A Space Element dominant individual will display expansiveness, love for cleanliness, light body weight, etc.
The mind may be expansive and unattached naturally – in Sanskrit, we call this qualitySattva, which will make you, from birth, a lover of all things spiritual, lightness, refinement, truth, and expansiveness. You will seek Space in how you are in relationships, inside your home, closet, and even inside your body (no congestion permitted). On bad days, you may feel “spacey,” but if you understand yourself, you will enjoy the uninterrupted quality of your self-expression, whether in being or becoming.
Your body will embody mildness, softness, subtleness, lightness, and looseness (of joints, ideas, etc.). After all, your body is weaved with oodles of ether, that ever-so-subtle matter in the universe that effortlessly flows, connects and holds, but is barely there and yet everywhere.
Watch out for an excessively fragile body by feeding yourself well and with intention. A mind that is not grounded enough, where emotions and thoughts do not hold or cohere long enough to create a decisive state of mind, are other challenges. Otherwise, enjoy your spontaneous ability to meditate, channel, connect with cosmic ether, and embody being and non-being at the same time.
If you are dominant in Air, the gaseous state of matter, you will possess a wiry, light, rough, and clear body type. You may find that you get excited easily and always on the move, physically or mentally, or both. Also, you will possess a sensitive skin, with a well-developed sense of touch. Even the ever-so-subtle wind, as it moves in creation, will stroke your skin and alert you to its divine existence.
Your constitution will embody dryness, subtleness, lightness, looseness, lack of compactness, easy extensibility, coolness, roughness, and the ability to perceive touch excellently. In the mind, there will be an overflow of quick thoughts, as the thinking process is really a play of the Air Element. The quality ofRajas, or excitement dominates the mind, creating non-stop mental activity, frequent agitation, mood swings, and sometimes even turbulence in the mind.
After all, what is Air? Grab a handful, and you get a non-substance in your palm, but lots of sensations on the skin of your palm. Motion without substance describes you, and also describes some of your projects, in which you may turn your wheels for not much substantial gain. Like wind, you can live harmoniously and creatively. But when the mood changes, watch out for depletion from over-action, exhaustion of body and mind, thinness, skipping meals, or sacrificing normal sleep hours in favor of excitement – as that also aggravates Air. Enjoy the spontaneity, quickness, and unparalleled imagination and visions, which are your gifts from the nature.
If you are dominant in the Fire Element, the radiant state of matter, you will possess a light, but warm, or even hot body. Your will embody the thermal and radiant state of matter, and hence, you will run hotter than most people. You will digest well, or rather too intensely, and this heat in the mind will translate as intelligence, sharpness, and even anger at times.
You may be easily impatient, and burn out quickly with a mediocre endurance capacity. The spark that enlivens you, may also burn you in summers, or if you consume excessive fiery foods or lead a fiery hot lifestyle. Your skin may have a deep pinkish to reddish hue naturally, and you may possess not only excellent vision to begin with but also, an eye for details. An excellent digestion, if taken for granted, may lead to burning sensations, etc.
Your body embodies fiery qualities, such as sharpness (tongue, temper, appetite), hotness (body and mind), dryness (due to over heating and parching), subtleness (of mind), lightness (body weight), and clearness (in mind and complexion). In your mind, both Sattva and Rajas qualities dominate, so you may seek spiritual solitude (Sattva), and at the same time make a list on how to obtain it (action tinged quality of Rajas).
Watch out for burnout in professional life. Enjoy your natural leadership potential, sunny cheerful temperament, your ability to find solutions, and achieve mastery of life and health through sheer force of transformation.
Water dominant individuals are dominant in Water, or liquid state of matter. If you have mostly this element in dominance in your body type, you will possess a soft, smooth, somewhat heavy, and even flabby body. You will feel cold easily and your appearance will show your skin to be well-moistened, soft, smooth, and almost oily sheen.
Your joints will look well lubricated and hair, nails, etc. have a fluid, soft quality. Your body fluids (including sexual ones) will be abundant, endowing you with fertility and beauty. Your body embodies watery qualities, such as liquidity, coolness, heaviness, slowness, gentle mobility, and stickiness (yes, everything glued together).
Emotions posses your being often, and in floods of feelings and loyalty, memories and attachments, you dwell in a landscape that is more often than not romantic, sentimental, and special.
Look out for water retention, and body fat, because fat is predominantly made up of the Water Element. The watery, introspective quality of your mind may sometimes slip into sad weepy depression. Enjoy your natural nurturing and healing ability, appreciate your soft beauty, and dwell in your flowing bodysuit with grace and artistry. Embrace what comes naturally to you.
If you are dominant in Earth Element, the solid state of matter, you will possess a well-developed and perhaps well-endowed body, displaying naturally large bones and well-defined muscle structure. Your well-built body will display sturdiness, heaviness, largeness, and compactness (density) of Earth. You may have a tendency to put on weight, too, which is not flabby, but hard – more muscle buildup than fat. Your bones may be heavy, too.
Often, Earth dominant individuals possess a more earthy complexion (darker than usual), and even newborn babies that are dominant in Earth are large enough to look older than their age, or look really well nourished when compared to the puny Air, Space or Fire dominant babies.
Your body embodies earthy qualities, such as hardness, slowness, compactness, bulkiness, and steadiness. The Earth in you makes you capable of tolerating heavy odds, do hard labor and demonstrate patience and remarkable enduring power. You may find that you are often courageous and easily forgive others. Yes, you are the down to earth, rooted, solid, stable, and dependable one in this Five Element universe.
Watch out for excessive Earth creating blockages, growths, and a stubborn mind. Flexibility and ease should be your mantra even as you enjoy the divine gifts of calmness, sturdiness, and resolve in body and mind.
Born from the womb of nature and destined to return back to nature, we human beings are indeed weaved by the same five threads that intertwine and compose the rest of the universe. Though we contain all five in every atom, every cell, every particle of our being that makes us up, yet often a single element truly rules our show and dictates the genetic script and our personality, its weaknesses, and strengths. It also rules as to what will balance us and what will imbalance us. When we make a conscious effort to understand the Great Five Elements, we see in that ancient wisdom a reflection of our own being. We begin to know, at an intuitive level, how the elements play inside us and their behavior in the macrocosm is a mirror to how they will behave inside us, in the microcosm.
This article by Acharya Shunya Pratichi Mathur was originally posted on www.ayurvedalifestylemedicine.org.
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