Ellen F. Franklin, PhD
“Our heart’s ability to transform all of the information coming from the outside and to give what is needed, is the work of the earth element. In this way the earth has the ability to digest and transport the caring and nourishing thoughts of our heart. This is how our heart can expand itself to the dimensions of the universe.” — Debra Kaatz, Characters of Wisdom
In the Fifth Season of Chinese Medicine, the Element of Earth, there is a focus on nourishment, digestion, stability and harvest. Residing between the peak of summer and the golden days of Fall this is a time to reflect on and identify ways to nurture ourselves, embrace the bountiful abundance of Mother Earth, and find center physically, emotionally and spiritually. Compassion, sympathy and empathy are positive emotions associated with this element, qualities so needed at this unprecedented time of heightened worry, anxiety and trauma.
As many of the contributors to this newsletter cite, there are huge opportunities that can emerge from our darkest times and in this elemental season of late summer, the element of Earth, we have an opportunity to step up, find our voice, and direct love and compassion to the planet for personal, planetary and collective healing. Each one of us has the tools we need to ride this extraordinary storm and to find the richness within it.
The Earth element relates to the paired organs of the stomach (yang) and spleen (yin), and our ability to be nourished or feel a sense of stability, which is deeply challenging six months into a global pandemic. There is a rise in anxiety, reduced coping responses, anxiety and depression and for some full-blown PTSD. There are also many consequences that arise from imposed quarantine including a rise in domestic abuse, substance abuse, social isolation, and break down of relationships. Many are thrust into financial stress, long nurtured small businesses are being forced to close, there is a loss of jobs and risk of eviction from homes is a reality. The statistics are unprecedented and grow more dire each day. Fires rage across the West, police killing of unarmed black men continue, ice sheets continue to break off, oceans warm and hurricanes and tornados bring devastation. Our planet is in peril, our democracy is in peril, human rights are being violated daily. But with courage, will and compassion we have the tools we need to remain strong in the face of adversity to guide others back to a place of health and holism amidst the perils of our time.
Exploration of approaches to unwind and release trauma and promote well-being whether in your clinic or through self-care has been a focal point of my work with Acutonics. It was also a driver in the development of our new course, Unwinding Trauma with Acutonics the Eight Extraordinary Meridians and Fibonacci, that Donna and I co-developed to ensure that our practitioners and faculty have a solid foundation in how to address the overwhelming impact of trauma. Recently we had the opportunity to offer two trainings on Zoom, one to faculty and the other to a group of advanced students. Many Acutonics senior faculty are now scheduled to teach this timely new elective. As we collectively seek wisdom and holistic strategies to address the pervasive trauma that impacts all life on our planet.
Traumas impact individuals, families, groups, communities, specific cultures, generations and the earth itself. It may have lasting adverse effects on physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being, that overwhelm an individual or impact an entire community. It often ignites the fight, flight, or freeze reaction. Fear, vulnerability or a sense of helplessness results and cannot be metabolized resulting in unbearable pain. For some regardless of severity of the trauma, they demonstrate resilience. However, a growing number of people have prolonged reactions, enduring mental health consequences such as posttraumatic stress, secondary traumatic stress, anxiety, substance abuse, sleep issues, depression and a range of mood disorders.
The human psyche is also deeply impacted. Jung wrote that every neurosis is an offended god. That when some archetypal principle is violated – the psyche in and of itself might be viewed as divine for it seeks to find the deep connections, that help us to find meaning and transcendence out of our darkest times.
All of us our injured to some degree or will experience trauma in our lives. Beyond this we feel at a cellular level the daily abuse to the planet we live on and call home. It is difficult to witness the abuse of power throughout the world, where greed and corruption are far too often the most common form of currency. It leaves an imprint that results in collective trauma. Even high functioning people are experience low level depression or dysthymia. Something Michelle Obama, gave voice to, as she looks at what has unfolded in the world. A recent survey indicated that one in three Americans are reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety, this is more than three times the rate from a similar survey conducted in the first half of 2019.
There are walls within and without, loss of structure or too much structure. Demands made that walls be built to protect us from other or to promote separation. It is critical to embrace and hold in our hearts the Taoist ideal that we are infinitely connected to something far greater than ourselves.
The Heart (Shen) and Kidney (ZHI) are the primary systems in trauma. The heart is the root of life, the seat of Shen, and it connects to the Kidney, our personal Will and ability to take action to achieve our destiny. When the Kidney is out of balance there is fear and isolation. The Taoists teach us that the highest use of our personal will is to align with the will of Heaven or with the Tao, Wu Wei or right action. When the heart and kidney are not communicating, we also have stress and disfunction in the hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal axis a major neuroendocrine system that controls our reaction to stress and regulates many body processes including digestion, immune function, mood and emotions such as panic attacks, fear, irritability and hopelessness.
The secondary systems but no less important are the Liver (Hun) and Spleen (Yi). When functioning poorly the symptoms are far ranging from lack of enthusiasm and vitality, to mental restlessness, depression, insomnia, despair, confusion, anxiety and loss of vitality. The Liver out of balance often results in anger, resentment and frustrations. When the Spleen is out of balance we have excessive worry, loss of appetite and exhaustion.
During this time of the Earth element we have an opportunity to invoke a healthy Spleen, which represents a powerful, compassionate understanding for others and the ability to manifest spirit-infused intelligence, creativity and understanding, to midwife a new and better harvest for all. Combined with a health Hun we are able to access our spiritual path, so that our soul is able to expand and grow with kindness and compassion.
As you stand tall, reflect on how to move beyond the prison walls of anxiety, stress and trauma, to transcend, unwind and release self-limiting counter-productive behaviors. Choose tools that you would use for your own self-care, Ohm, New Moon, Sedna, Chiron, Nibiru, Venus, what tools call to you, what would you direct outward to your communities and the Earth.
Begin by bringing balance to your own microcosmic orbit, the DU and the REN, then activate the three treasures to bring in the wisdom of the ancient ones (DU 20), root that wisdom (REN 4) and grow it in your heart (REN 17). First stabilize your physical body, bring in self-love, and light. As you hold strong to center with your heart fully open, direct healing out to those most in need, to the collective, and then out to the planet. Lift your thoughts, and healing sounds to the microcosmic orbit of the planet with love, compassion, humility and wisdom directed to the collective. By first engaging in our own self-care, to manage personal stress and anxiety we are better able to follow our souls’ journey, to be renewed, and present for self, family, clients, community and the collective.