The Fire Element
Chinese Medicine & The Five Elements
The heart is the centre from which we beat. The home of our emotions. The place where we experience life. The place that makes us feel alive!
Fire element is the manifestation of spirit (Shen) within matter (Jing) that propels our energetic life force, our bioelectricity known as Qi, around the body through the blood that the heart pumps.
And just like the fire element which it embodies; the energy of the heart can be both transformational and destructive, it can burn bright or it can burn out, it can be beautifully enigmatic or rampage ferociously out of control…, it can leave you feeling warm or cold-hearted.
A classic Chinese text states ‘The Heart is the Emperor, the Supreme Controller. The Heart is the fire at the centre of our being, from which spirit radiates.’ ~ NeiJing SuWen
The Fire element is the ruler of our spirit, known as Shen in Chinese Medicine. One of The Three Treasures in QiGong, Shen in its large expression connects us to the unity of all things. It represents universal love, peace and belonging. There’s also a little Shen, which is concerned with the spirit of the heart and its emotions, the vitality in the body and the spark in your eyes.
Imbalances in the Fire element
Because of its fiery nature, Shen can easily become disturbed and scatter, preventing it from coming home to the heart to reside. This imbalance in the Fire element can present itself in the form of mental anxieties, restlessness, palpitations and sleep disturbances. To cool and ground the fire of the spirit it’s important to nourish it with calming Water element practices such as meditation, and with things such as breath centred awareness. The element of Fire is always moving, making stillness a valuable contrast to its constantly flickering flames.
Thinking with your head or with your heart? According to Chinese Medicine, the two cannot be separated. Disturbances in one can manifest as pathologies in the other. For it is our heart residing spirit (Shen), which allows us to conquer logic, preventing us from being mere cold heartless machines. Our Heart senses what is right, even if our head discerns differently. The Heart and the mind are considered one of the same things in Chinese Medicine, with Shen being what we in the West call awareness or consciousness.
Learn about how to balance each of the 5 Elements, along with inspirational yoga and mindfulness practices for each element – In My Element: Yin yoga sequences guiding you through the Chinese 5 elements.
The paired organs of the Fire element
The Heart is coupled with the organ of The Small Intestine in Chinese Medicine, with the Fire element being the only one of The 5 Elements that has a second set of paired organs: The Heart Protector, also known as the Pericardium, and The Triple Heater. Just like the energetic pathway of the Heart and Small intestine, this second set of Fire meridians also run along the front and back of the arms.
It’s the role of the Heart to produce and circulate the warming blood that nourishes our being. And the meridian pathway of the heart opens into the tongue, which allows it to govern true and clear speech. The Small intestine separates the pure from the impure. Separating out purer food and fluid essences from the stomach to send to the spleen, and impure substances to the Bladder and large intestines to be illuminated.
The Heart protector ensheathes the most vulnerable of organs, the Heart, from overstimulation and emotional shock. The Triple Heater divides the body into the Upper, Middle and Lower burners, which control the water passages in the body by distributing and dispersing its water and fluids.
So when considering the energy of the Fire phase:
‘Follow your heart’
‘Open your heart’
‘Listen to your heart’
‘Have a heart to heart with yourself’
Feel it. Sense it. Journey to its centre, accepting whatever you find there, good or bad. And then allow yourself to love your wonderful unique heart, exactly as you find it, with all its vulnerabilities, strengths, passions, joys and pains.
To learn all about the next phase in the Five Elements, Earth, click here.
In My Element
Discover inspirational and informed ways to use 5 Element theory in your yoga and mindfulness practices with the new book from Flow Publications.
Whether you’re a yoga practitioner who wants to deepen their understanding of their body and mind, or a yoga teacher looking for class inspiration, this beautiful book has something for every-body and every mind. Exploring the poetry of the 5 Elements through the language of Yin yoga and meditation, In My Element, serves as a portal to finding a more harmonious place within this life.