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December 1996

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by Morag Campbell

The typical earth body is strong, well built and somewhat square looking. It can be big boned. This is just the kind of body you needed to fulfill a hard days work geared towards working with the body in a very practical way. Working the land, for instance, which is a very obvious earth activity requires a body with enough muscle bulk and stamina to dig trenches all day or drive in fence posts.

The earth body, being so solid, has a downward energy to it. When the person stands or moves there is a sense that their centre of gravity is quite low. This makes them very grounded and therefore hard to push over and it is for this very reason that lowering your centre of gravity to your Tan Tien, as the Chinese call it or your Hara as it is known in Japan, which is located below the navel, is so important in martial arts training. This sense of downward energy in some can make the gait appear cumbersome and heavy. Having our centre of gravity down in the pelvis enables us to be truly centred. By settling down into ourselves as it were we allow our internal strength to support us and give us a "ground" to move from in our lives. When you look at some people it is easy to see that they are pulling up from the pelvis and their centre of gravity may be somewhere up their chests. This creates tension and rigidity in the body and cuts them off from their sense of inner support and regenerative possibilities as well as their instinctive drives. They will not have what the Buddhists call a Ground of Being and will be cut off from receiving the incoming stream of the Divine Being. Rather as a lightening conductor earths the incoming force of the lightening bolt so too we need the ability to earth these cosmic forces.

Because the earth element is the most dense of all the elements it stands to reason that it rules the most dense of the body's tissues - bone. It is the bones that provide our structure and support, define our shape and build as well as serving a protective function. The importance of the density of the bones is realised when you hear of children with Brittle Bone disease where the slightest knock causes the bone to shatter. A similar thing occurs in some women as they get older when the drop in their oestrogen level causes the bones to weaken as there is not sufficient uptake of calcium and Osteoporosis develops. The bones help to bear the whole weight of the body and give the muscles something to work against so healthy functioning is vital to this support system. The bones also support in another way by providing blood cells from the bone marrow. If there is a lack of the earth element the bones will weaken as above. If there is too much then arthritis and bone spurs can be the consequences. The idea of support is also mirrored in the astrological sign of Capricorn which rules the knees. So any problems here can point to an earth disturbance.

The other important functions that this element presides over are those of assimilation (remember the earth has massive capacity for absorption ) and the seemingly, contrasting function of elimination. It is vital that these two functions are working in harmony to maintain balance. If we continue to absorb and do not eliminate at the same time, the whole system backs up. In the body the small intestine is responsible for a lot of the absorption of nutrients from the food that we eat. This occurs through many tiny finger-like projections called villi. These increase the surface area of the intestine and make absorption that much easier. Absorption occurs in other parts of the digestive tract too, for instance, in the colon. Here water is re-absorbed back into the body from the faecal matter as our food passes through our systems in a fluid state. If a large proportion of the water content was not re-absorbed we would rapidly de-hydrate which is of course, what happen when we have diarrhoea. Even the absorption of oxygen into the blood cells can be thought of as a process of earth. In fact any function where a substance is absorbed into the body to help to maintain and build is a product of this element.

Elimination then is an important aspect of the earth element. The ability to let go of substances that are no longer useful is essential for healthy maintenance of the body. In this respect the colon is thought of as the major organ of elimination in the body and it is ruled by the astrological sign of Virgo. Many people have problems with their colons. The most common being colitis, spastic colon and haemorrhoids. In order to eliminate freely we need the ability to relax, release and let go. Holding on emotionally and physically, usually because of fear, causes a disturbance in this element. There is also a popular fashion myth in the western world that says that to look good we should have a flat abdomen and many women especially fall prey to this sort of propaganda and tighten their abdominal muscles excessively. Whilst this may give them the ideal model figure it reeks havoc with the underlying organs of the pelvis especially the colon, often making evacuation of the bowels difficult. As we have mentioned before this can lead to an eventual build up of toxins in the body which in turn leads to more problems. Our rigid toilet training also does little to encourage the easy movements of the bowels and negative programming around the faeces itself means that many people hold on in this area creating the problems already mentioned as well as gas pains, bloating, general discomfort and pain. If there is a disturbance in the earth element it will effect not only the colon but all our elimination processes such as sweating, urinating, breathing and crying. The astrological sign of Taurus rules the neck and any holding here results in difficulties in letting go of our feelings and emotions and interferes with our ability to communicate. So tension and holding any where in the body but especially the neck, the abdomen and the knees impedes our ability to let go. We are usually fearful that if we do let go we will "fall apart", we will not be able to support ourselves or we will be embarrassed or "let our selves down " in some way. These fears lead to excessive holding and rigidity in our bodies and an over use of this element to control. We control out of fear and it is important to recognise and acknowledge this fact for only then can we change it.  

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