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September 1996

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by Morag Campbell

Over the next few months I thought we could take a brief look at the Elements of air, fire, water and earth in relation to the physical body. As you read through maybe you could apply the criteria mentioned to yourself and learn something about your individual elemental make-up. The following paragraphs are taken from "Quinta Essentia" see our Store for purchase details.

Because the air element is the impetus or impulse behind all movement then it is easy to see that it also governs all the movement qualities in our body. The most obvious of these being the beating of the heart, the pulsing of blood through the arteries and veins, the rise and fall of the ribs in breathing and the passage of food through the body through the process of peristalsis. Don't forget the other movements of the body that are present all the time below our normal level of awareness such as all the pulsations of the various organs, the impulses of our nervous systems and even the minute vibrations of every single cell in our body. Even when we doing nothing we are far from still, in fact, we are constant vibration and pulsation. At a grosser level all our movement capabilities such as walking, running and all physical activities have to do with air.

The astrological sign of Gemini is said to have influence over the shoulders and arms as well as the lungs and respiration. Highly energetic, those of us influenced by this sign, can be prone to nervous exhaustion as well as problems of the chest and shoulders such as bronchitis and neuralgia. Libra's rule over the kidneys can lead to hormonal problems in times of stress as well as problems directly associated with these organs. Problems with the lower legs such as cramps or varicose veins can afflict those of us born under the sign of Aquarius as well as a variety of non specific conditions that can mysteriously disappear as easily as they came. The air body is often long and lean. People influenced by a lot of air energy can be tall and very graceful. They have a lot of energy which tends to have an upward momentum so that they can find it hard to sit still. Even when standing and talking they tend to move about a lot, waving their arms in the air to accompany their speech.

Even without any knowledge of our astrological make-up it is easy to see that the air element manifests most strongly in our chests as breathing. The best way to ensure an adequate supply of the air element into the body is to make sure that we breathe well. Breathing is more than the drawing in and the letting go of air. It represents our ability to connect with Life itself. By the very act of breathing we open ourselves to Life and close again in the giving and receiving of this essential commodity. When our breathing is disturbed then we are disturbed. A disorder of the breath means disorder in ourselves, inhibiting our essential self and limiting us to the greater possibilities of life. Many people do not allow deep diaphragmatic breathing to take place. They breathe high up in the chest and the breath is weak and shallow. This kind of breathing is driven by the ego and closes us to the deeper expression of our essential self and our feelings. We do not connect with our bellies. When breathing is deep and even then the whole body feels enlivened. Notice how you breathe when you are feeling depressed and you will see what I mean. A brisk walk or a game of tennis can be just the thing to shift your mood by getting that air element moving again as you increase your breathing capacity. It is essential that we relax and let go of the breath. Doing this completely will enable the air to automatically flood back into the lungs and there will be a natural ebb and flow to the procedure. Any holding here, which is evident in the chronically held concave, depressed chest as well as the chest that looks continually inflated , represents our inability to let go and trust to life. If we can soften the chest wall and allow the free passage of air in and out of the lungs we free ourselves of our inhibitions and hypertension and open ourselves to freer expression of our essential being.

The heart is linked strongly to the air element situated as it is in the centre of the chest. We are quite rightly very protective of this vital organ both at a physical and emotionally level. We tend to guard it well, not giving it away lightly or wearing in on our sleeves where it is vulnerable and can be easily damaged. Over zealous protecting of the heart can lead to holding and tension in the chest. Holding back in this area creates a sunken chest and rounded upper back. We literally lock the heart away in the cage of the ribs, so much so that often we ourselves are not aware of it, until unable to be contained any longer and seeking expression, it rises up demanding our attention and threatening our very existence with an 'attack' of heart. Conversely, someone who is said to be open hearted will have a body that reflects this attitude and the chest will be open and exposed to the world. This is not to say that they will suffer no problems with this organ as a consequence. Some of the most open hearted people I know who can speak and act from the heart, express their heart felt feelings freely and are generous with their love have heart conditions. It is as if they are almost too open and this area of the body becomes over exposed and therefore open to attack not from within but from without and they are often easily hurt and damaged by other peoples words and actions.

Obviously with all this emphasis on the structure of the chest the shoulders and arms also play an important part in relation to this particular element. Any holding of the chest and breathing will tend to hold our shoulders immobile. Our shoulder blades have been called the ' wings of life '. If they are stuck to the rib cage then how can we fly ! It is as if they hold us down instead and we become "heavy hearted." The arms can be thought of as extensions of the heart for as the embryo grows in the womb the tiny arm buds seem to grow out of the organ itself and so the sense that is associated with the air element and the heart is the sense of touch. It is often through touch that we can express our true heartfelt feelings. If we close down on our heart centre we lose the ability to reach out and make contact with the world around us. We do not hug, or caress. We do not touch and therefore are untouched by life. We become cut off from it.

The nervous system is another aspect of the body that is strongly influenced by this element. All pervasive, it transmits messages with lightening speed. It acts as a communication network both sending and receiving messages that keep us in touch with what is going on around us. All conditions of the nervous system such as Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis or Motor Neurone Disease are a problem with this element. Too much air in the system can produce an overactive nervous system leading to nervous exhaustion or panic attacks and that other aspect of the air element flatulence and bloating. The production of gas in our body, caused by poor digestion or intolerance to certain foods, can cause havoc to our whole system. Not only does it cause considerable pain , discomfort and distension in the abdomen but can also lead to headaches, neck pain and pains in the limbs such as the calf muscles. The ease of movement of air seems to enable this particular problem to surface anywhere with disastrous results sending shooting pains all over our body. On the other hand too little air leads to conditions such as asthma, poor circulation and muscle spasm. It can lead to stagnation in the gut causing constipation. So , with an imbalance in this element all the movement capabilities of our body suffer accordingly.

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