The Earth Element is the fertile soil that allows plants to grow and flourish to provide nourishment and sustenance; it gives protection and shelter as well as stability and substance.
Earth contains water, creates boundaries to define continents and carries us through space with stability. Earth represents safety, protection, and our home base.
Being centered, calm, and balanced, feeling at home, and having a sense of harmony and peacefulness are the essence of a healthy Earth energy. For example; creating a comfortable home, cooking for oneself, cooking for your family- are all essential factors to nourishing the Earth energy in one's life.
Cultivating a healthy Earth means understanding and prioritizing our needs. If we pour all of our energy into helping others or work excessively, we'll have nothing left for ourselves. If we don't discipline ourselves around our diet and set boundaries around eating generally healthy foods, our health fails. If we continuously deprive ourselves of a good night's rest we slowly but surely deplete our blood, our Yin, and our essence, which accelerates our aging process.
In other words, strong boundaries around how and with whom we spend our time, what we eat, and when we sleep is fundamental to our health.
In the body, these boundaries are established by the Earth element organs that govern digestion, the Stomach and Spleen.
Nourishment and the Earth element
Earth energy is about transformation. Transformation of food into energy, raw material to rebuild the body, Transformation of our thoughts so we're not stuck obsessing about negative things and can have clarity of mind.
Earth energy is also associated with our relationships with ourselves and others. This begins with our relationship to our family, especially our mothers. As the archetype for the Earth type personality, the Mother represents unconditional love and the nourishing qualities that exist within each of us.
Loving, supportive, and nourishing parents help children understand they are accepted for who they are giving them a deep sense of security. Healthy boundaries between children and parents are crucial to cultivating healthy relationships and to prevent enabling unhealthy behavior patterns. Held with love, compassion, and respect boundaries help create a sense of stability and safety.
Starting life with unconditional nourishment both through food and emotional support, supports a calm and secure demeanor. It also prevents the development of excessive dependence on others to have one's needs met.
Earth Element Imbalances
Physiologically, Earth element imbalances most commonly relate to weakness of the Spleen, which manifests as poor digestive function, as well as bruising and hemorrhaging. This is because the Spleen not only transports and transforms food and thoughts, but it is also the organ in Chinese Medicine that's responsible for holding blood in the vessels. A woman who has very heavy flow during her menses for example needs to focus on strengthening her Spleen and blood.
Chronic digestive issues as well as eating disorders are common among people who have imbalances in their Earth element, which may have begun during childhood as a result of lack of nourishment emotionally and physically from one's parents or through excessive consumption of prescription drugs, especially antibiotics, which directly damage the gastrointestinal system.
When there is an Earth imbalance, or weakness in Spleen Qi, dampness or phlegm tends to develop in the body, which leads physically to weight gain and psychologically to obsessive thinking. This is why worry and pessimism are common symptoms of imbalanced Earth energy.
Psychologically, Earth imbalance manifests as neediness, self-absorption, resentment or excessively self-sacrificing and lacking the ability to care for oneself.
A weak Earth also inhibits one's ability to hold strong personal boundaries, making one inclined to meddle in other people’s lives as a distraction from looking at herself or lack the personal boundaries to prevent other people from meddling in her life.
Earth imbalance often creates a challenging relationship with both food and money, each of which energetically represent a form of nourishment that allows us to feel safe.
People with an Earth imbalance will not only have digestive issues, but they'll often also have an unhealthy relationship with money management as well as with food, which that may result in eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia or simply addictions to food for comfort.
Balanced Earth means that we know how time, energy, food, and money all fit into our lives. It allows us to feel abundant no matter how much we have. Therefore, an imbalanced Earth will cause us to feel lack -especially with our money and our energy.
Balancing Earth to Establish Healthy Boundaries
Having a more balanced Earth element helps us feel more calm, secure and nourished. When we feel more peace within, we can make our needs, and therefore our boundaries, more clear. Strong boundaries and a healthier relationship with ourselves allows us to then cultivate healthier relationships with others.
Here are some tips on how to strengthen the Spleen and your Earth element to help you establish stronger boundaries:
Cook - the physical act of preparing a meal nurtures the mind, body and soul.
Eat a healthy, low carbohydrate diet - carbohydrates and sugars increase the damp or fungal terrain in the body so it's important to reduce these foods and increase the consumption of leafy green vegetables, root vegetables and clean meats to clear this dampness, cultivate clarity and optimize your health.
Eat regular meals - Earth thrives on a regular daily rhythm.
Manage your time and money - Earth is about nurturing and abundance. Keeping track of how you spend your time helps you manage your energy. Managing your finances is another way to help consolidate your Earth energy and is an essential aspect to cultivating the feeling of security in your life. Money is energy which when circulated properly helps balance Earth energy.
Journal to replace worry and obsession with contemplation and reflection.
Get involved in the community - find what organizations, church groups, charities, etc. interest you and see what role you can play to contribute.
Self-care is therefore essential to rebalance the Earth element. When your food, money, time and energy are properly managed, the mind becomes more clear and you're able to naturally set healthy boundaries that allow you to share the best aspects of yourself with others.