Playing with the Four Elements
The “four elements” is a classic embodiment model which draws from ancient practices and has been repurposed for our modern times, among others, by Mark Walsh, founder of Embodiment Unlimited.
I recently came across this model and found it an easy, playful and interesting way to gain more self-awareness of some of our tendencies and patterns.
You can learn more about the model here, but in a nutshell, these are for me the keywords describing each of the four elements:
EARTH- strong sense of stability, control, pragmatism
WATER- flexibility, receptivity to others, flow
FIRE- drive, energy, getting things done
AIR- vision, creativity, prone to change
Mark Walsh in his course (and podcast) invites us to experiment in various ways walking and moving in different ways with our body, and feeling which of these tendencies are more present for us.
That is an insightful way to somatically explore the model, but even without going through a whole guided experience, I think most of us have a sense of what is more resonant for us, as these concepts are quite intuitive.
If you think about it, how many times have we said “I am fired up”, “Let’s get down to earth”, “He’s all up in the clouds” or “She’s good at just letting it flow”...
The model is thus not rocket science, but it offers interesting hints for reflection that I’d like to share with you.
But first of all, let’s keep in mind that the objective is absolutely NOT to put ourselves or other people in boxes, e.g. “I AM Water…”, but rather to see which of these elements and patterns are more or less present for us, which other tendencies we might want to further explore and how to do so.
My suggestion for you would be to reflect and experiment with which of the various tendencies are more present for you, (you can again refer to the above links for some guided exercises and videos), and pose yourself these questions:
How does this tendency feel for me?
Do I use it too much?
Which other tendencies could I balance it with?
Am I willing to explore these tendencies?
Which are the best practical ways to explore them?
Here, try not to overthink it intellectually, but rather be playful and creative in thinking of a few practical ways in which to experiment, starting with small achievable actions.
Here are some ideas I can offer you:
- To experiment more with the EARTH dimension, you could start by walking more slowly, do some centering practices, or deep breathing exercises…
- For the WATER dimension, you can exercise your listening skills e.g. be intentional in giving more space to others in meetings and being the last one to talk), or maybe try out salsa dance
- For FIRE, sign yourself up for a competition in a sport you are just leisurely practicing right now, or schedule that tough conversation with your manager that you have been long postponing
- For AIR, why not experimenting with something totally new(can be as little as taking a new path to go to work up to trying out a new hobby or sport activity you’ve never tried before), or signing up for an improvisation course?
My suggestion would be to pair up with a colleague, a coach, a friend (better if having a very different tendency), and inspire each other on other ways to enlarge your breadth of dimensions.
Anyone guessing what the picture has to do with the topic?
Well, here is how I am personally working with the model:
I definitely feel a high energy in the FIRE dimension.
My walking style also reflects that, being very quick, dynamic, energised. My former colleagues used to joke about the fact they knew I was coming into the office by hearing my brisk decisive steps coming along the corridor 😉
My commitment this year is to tap more into the AIR dimension, and my first step in this direction is giving myself permission to be more creative, experimenting with different forms of art I am a total beginner with.
In the picture, you see the result of my first painting!
It took quite a bit of courage (tapping into my Fire) to silence my gremlin that was shouting at me I couldn’t post on my website such an embarrassing first work, but hey… we are all in it together, and vulnerability shouldn’t be only preached to others!
If you are interested to explore more, schedule a free intro call with me and let's discuss how we can work on it together