Creating safety with the five elements

The body's capacity to heal itself is as stunning an experience for me as the existences of galaxies spiraling into infinity. After 12 years of private practice, I have witnessed changes in longstanding illness and disease that have truly inspired me. 

Being healthy is both a cause and a result of wholeness. One perpetuates the other. To establish one we simply have to introduce the other. This wholeness is an expression of cohesiveness; all "parts" in communion with each other effortlessly. This is the basis and core seed of health, a vigorous and fluid vitality that engages the world with authenticity and joy. The elimination of disease and disorder is a byproduct of supporting the body's process of reestablishing wholeness. 

So what are the obstacles to establishing wholeness?

Primarily, it is difficult to attain if the body, mind, or spirit are in states of fear. The body characteristically braces itself for impact by recoiling into a type of density. There is a loss of inherent fluidity as the whole becomes segmented into fractures of separate functioning. Physical systems no longer agile enough to communicate can begin to compete with one another. The mind loses its flexibility and ability to engage in greater awareness, narrowing its scope of information into that to which it needs to survive. Higher consciousness, wisdom states, and physical buoyancy are often outside the capacity of a frightened system.

Long-term manifestations of this state damages the body and mind in a distinct way. Without the full expression of wholeness there is a loss of energy efficiency. This does not mean that all disease is caused from fear but it does imply that longstanding fear and the resulting physical and mental effects it causes damages our potential for wholeness and health.

The crux of my practice and healing work is to help patients create a healthy vitality so they can achieve their life goals. Their radiance and wellness is a direct
manifestation of the investment we make together with our intentions. Some patients’ healing goals are to have a healthy baby, to be pain free, to be unbound by anxiety, or to pair acupuncture treatments alongside biomedicine. Others talk of wide frame
dreams—romantic, financial, philanthropic, and spiritual expressions that are less about fixing and more about a state of thriving. The sweet opportunities that come from taking chances, letting go, feeling unlimited, thinking big. These are the kind of dreams that one doesn't dare to dream unless there is already a greater capacity of self-worth and self-belief. We think "why not me", or even "of course me.” It's a very “New York” type of perspective, and it can be exciting!

We can think of the body easily in terms of the chakra systems. The lower chakras embody energies more aligned with root safety and human needs—to have shelter, to be not harmed, to procreate, to have enough, to have some sense of order and predictability. On top of that we have the middle chakras, which engage equanimity, fairness, desire, creativity, expression, and self-esteem. In the higher chakras we illuminate in the arena of intuition, psychic powers, wisdom, and transcendence. But unless all the chakra energies are plugged in and are working in unison we still behave in somewhat dysfunctional ways. Like a string of fairy lights, all the lights are dependent on one another. If the root chakras are not stable and flowing then the
'higher' points of being cannot be self-actualized.

The ignition-key for manifesting our dream desires is not about the potential we may have in skill, charisma, or confidence but is more about how stable we feel. It's about the foundation. So how do we go back to the foundation to create safety for ourselves?

One wise path is to use the primary fundamentals of eastern philosophy in traditional medicine with regards to the elements or phases. All phenomena can be broken into these 5 divisions: body organs, aspects of consciousness, physical matter, emotions, food groupings, and even sounds and colors. Each person has a constitutional tendency towards one of the phases, as it illuminates certain aspects of one’s personality, motivations, and physical makeup.



Greenish-blue Wood is the phase of spring. Sprouting and escalating up from the ground,there is a surge of creative force to push outward. Associated with creativity, anger, aggressive energy, and innovation—the wood phase constitutions a flourish on growth and movement. It is connected to the liver and gallbladder. Thriving on a challenge, a wood person may often become a justice advocate, trial lawyer, creative director, an athlete, gardener, designer, small business owner, salesperson, or an emergency worker. Physically wood types often suffer from muscle spasms, vascular or one sided headaches, autoimmune Issues, high blood pressure, pain that is migratory in nature, painful menstrual cramps, eye problems, abuse of alcohol or drugs. 

If you want to create a sense of safety with a wood person make sure to allow them plenty of space and freedom for self management; don't corner them in. If you give them some time and space they will often self correct and re-adjust.


Red Fire is the phase of summer. A fire person wants to express, experience, merge, and perform. They are about affection and attention, needing to connect and have their presence felt. If they don't feel connected, they can grow sullen and withdrawn. This phase is connected to the organs of the heart and small intestine. It is associated with the emotion of joy and over stimulation. A fire person may become a physical artist, healer, therapist, dancer, teacher, advertiser, media/communication type, or language professional. Fire types often have health issues with anxiety, insomnia, palpitations, abnormal sweating, hypoglycemia, and skin rashes. 

If you want to help a fire person, simply give them warmth and affection and watch them melt! They need to feel loved and adored more than anything else.


Yellow Earth is the phase of late summer. An earth person is a natural giver and provider, prioritizing consideration and care giving. This phase is connected to the digestive organs, the stomach and spleen and it relates to the clarity of thought. An earth person may become a banker, chef, construction worker, management specialist, professional caregiver, nurse, doctor, stay at home parent, teacher, or behind the scenes professional like a member of a film crew. Physical problems that can come up for earth types include worry, obsession, self doubt, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, water retention, and fatigue. 

If fear comes up for an earth person, consider making them a soup or a good meal. Have something planned for them. They feel grounded by being nourished and cared for. 


White Metal is the phase of autumn. A mental person is our finicky friend. It is the element of distinction and judgment. They have an apt ability to make excellent comparisons and parallels. A mental person may become an exceptional corporate lawyer, judge, politician, critic, space designer, detective, engineer, architect, locksmith or hardware store owner. This phase is related to the organs of the lungs, large intestine, and nose. Physical problems can include stiff joints and muscles, dry skin and hair, climate sensitivity, allergies, poor circulation, asthma, frequent colds, and shallow breathing. 

If a metal person is triggered be sure to compliment them or show them special respect. They thrive on learning, being, or having something of value. Once they know this they can relax and feel safe.


Navy-blue Water is the phase of winter, the season of hibernation and going inward. A water person tends to be very intuitive and introspective, valuing transparency and clarity. The organs of water are the kidneys and urinary bladder. A water person may become a writer, priest, monk, philosopher, fisherman, financial planner, creditor, musician, security worker, archeologist, anthropologist, car-wash worker or mail delivery person. Water types often have issues with loneliness, depression, sexual dysfunction, amenorrhea (no period), low body or high body temperature, teeth problems, low back pain, or deep exhaustion. 

If in a conflict with a water person be sure to show them your open hands and make them feel safe. Don't keep any secrets or withhold any information. They thrive on transparency and collapse when mistreated with lies or hidden behavior.

We all share similarities within these five phases yet tend to gravitate primarily towards one. For years I could confuse myself with what element I was until I thought of what quality could bring me back to neutral the fastest when upset. For me, it was clearly the affection and warmth. Give me a strong hug and big smile and any mental affliction I may have had is washed away. It's a little bit humbling to know that a little bit of warmth can cure me so easily!

When a dear friend of mine gets off balance he tends to get irritable and expresses a strong temper. On the surface he appears to be a wood element type of personality, but In fact I believe that is not his 'true constitution'. I know this because giving him space will only moderately help him find balance. Now if you cook him a big meal and allow him to get proper rest—he transforms back into a saint. He craves nourishment and being cared with
consideration is his best medicine. He is therefore an earth type.

There is no more powerful way way to create safety for ourselves then to offer it to others. Seeing ourselves give safety to someone plants a seed in our own mind that we have a enough safety to give. If you have enough of something to give away, you must have enough in general. Karma works on a reciprocal and complex system, but we can be sure that what we create for others will eventually be returned to us on a larger scale. Investments grow with time, and all our actions (and thoughts) are nothing less than planting seeds for what we want to experience ourselves.

Once we begin to understand our constitution tendencies, we begin to shift our fears into stable foundations. Fear is only a reminder that something is not working. We have the capacity to manifest our dream desires and thrive. Grounding ourselves in our wholeness so our body, mind, and spirit can flow in communion with itself and others.