The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus is famous for his declaration: Life is Flux. In other words, all things change. At the same time that Heraclitus was contemplating his navel, on the other side of the world, ancient Chinese philosophers were articulating a similar view from their observation of nature. In times ancient and modern, people see changes occurring on a daily, seasonal and annual basis. We notice changes in our bodies and minds as we age over a lifetime. Cultural shifts occur over generations. Nowadays we are constantly being called to adapt to the changes brought by the pandemic and by climate change.
Today, February 4th, marks a pivotal change in the course of the year. It is a cross-quarter day, the half-way point between equinox and solstice. Here in the southern hemisphere it marks the beginning of autumn, while in the northern half of the globe, spring is springing.
The ancient Chinese classic of medicine the Nei Jing states that the last 18 days of a season are the province of the Earth Element which provides a period of transition between four seasons with very different qualities. We have just spent the last two and a half weeks making the transition between summer and autumn, or winter and spring. This is a time when we are more likely to wobble in our health, especially if we are moving into a season whose Element is a challenge to us.
It is helpful to support the Earth Element at these times. A function of Earth is to facilitate transitions and to mediate. In this capacity it can help us to manage change by providing a grounded centre of orientation.
One of the buzz words to arise from 2020 is pivot. Governments, businesses, families and individuals have all been challenged to adapt to the constraints that the pandemic has wrought. Pivoting suggest a change of direction or orientation, a swivelling around to point in another direction. This same word of pivot can be applied to the Earth phase: it is the axis or fulcrum to which the other Elements orient.
In times of change when we are pulled away from our centre, wobbling like a spinning top, dizzy or giddy with the sudden reconfigurations of life, then supporting the Earth Element helps us to maintain a centre when all around is changing. We can use acupressure to support the Earth’s organs of Stomach and Spleen and to help reconnect us to centre. Some helpful acupoints that have been discussed previously include
At a deeper level
We come into this world as pure droplets of the Tao, dropping from the infinite into a world of time and space and limits. In our first years of life, we develop an ego structure in order to give coherence to living in this world. This egoic self becomes a fixed conglomeration of memories, ideas, beliefs and identities. It is a structure that is challenged by change, both external and internal. Change is challenging to the ego structure which regards itself as the centre of everything. Its very existence is threatened by change. For who are we if we are not who we thought?
The more we grow spiritually, and the more we can unhook from the delusion of ego, the easier it becomes to roll with the change, to swim with the stream. Practices that help us to de-couple from ego and support our Earth at the same time include meditation, movement meditation, belly breathing, microcosmic orbit circulation breathing, taiqi, qigong and mindfulness practices. Also we can enquire into our resistance to change. What is it that prevents us from flowing with the river of our life, a river that is constantly changing?
As Heraclitus put it, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”.