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Healing Connections: the Fire Element in Five Element Acupuncture

The Power of Love: the Fire Element in Five Element Acupuncture

Love is at the essence of the Fire Element in Five Element acupuncture, and love connects. Humans cannot thrive in isolation. Maintaining a vibrant Fire Element is key to health in body, mind and spirit.

The Fire Element, within us and around us, gives us the power to break through isolation, loneliness, and alienation that poison the world we live in. The energy of Fire fosters connection that nourishes body and soul. It dissolves barriers and melts the hatred and narcissism that cut us off from the web of life.

Love is at the heart of human experience and what makes life worth living. The Fire Element gives us connection that makes love manifest.

Summer and the Fire Element in Five Element Acupuncture

In the seasonal cycle of the Five Elements, Summer is the season of the Fire Element. Summer bathes us in the physical and spiritual warmth of Fire. Life reaches the peak of activity. Plants bloom, mature and set fruit, benefiting from the heat and light of long days. Summer is the season of reproduction, regeneration and relationship.

Like plants and animals, humans enjoy the long days and warmth of Summer and the Fire Element. The colors of nature delight us, and pleasant weather brings us outdoors. Summer is time for play and relaxation. Life flows more easily on all levels. Summer brings the energy of Fire, and the spirit of love, most strongly into play within us. It’s a time to socialize and to reconnect with friends, family and community.

For more on Summer and the Fire Element in Five Element acupuncture, watch the video.

Joy: Emotion of the Fire Element in Five Element Acupuncture

In Five Element acupuncture theory, joy is the emotional aspect of the Fire Element. Joy comes into being through the capacity to love and connect. In Chinese, the joy associated with Fire is not the momentary thrill of excitement. It’s the deep and profound joy of harmony and unity.

In Chinese, the ideogram we translate as joy, le 樂, has two pronunciations and two meanings. The other pronunciation, yue 樂, means music. This ideogram and the connection with music can help us understand the true meaning of joy and the Fire Element within.

This ideogram, le 樂, shows a picture of a great drum surrounded by chimes or bells, suspended from a wood frame. Le 樂 shows not just one musician, it’s a band. There are several instruments and players involved. To make beautiful, harmonious music together, the musicians have to keep the beat. Rhythm brings them together, and keeps things flowing smoothly.

Music is an experience of the present moment for makers and listeners. There’s a unity of spirit that happens when people make music. Everyone is caught up in the experience. We are caught up completely in the present. We stop worrying about the future, or brooding on the past. In the present moment, we are free to just be. We feel alive, and joy can arise.

In the physical body, rhythm is kept by the heart and circulation. The Fire Element governs the acupuncture meridians and organs connected to these physical functions, as well. But the Heart in Chinese medicine does more than keep the physical beat. The Heart is regarded as the Emperor of the body. Even in Western lore, we recognize the heart as the seat of the emotions, and so it is to the Chinese. The Heart governs all of the emotions, but its native emotion is joy. Joy heals the Heart. The Heart lives in the present moment.

Reconnection and Joy: Antidote for Depression

Joy gives us enthusiasm and energy that lights up life and makes it fun. Each of our lives is a piece of music, and play is in the living. Our joy, and the love that powers it, flows outward and benefits everyone we contact. With the joy that comes from a robust Fire Element, it’s impossible to feel depressed.

Depression has many roots. An imbalance in any of the Five Elements may be at the source, as discussed in an earlier blog post. Yet, there’s a key to depression that gives it a special relationship to the Fire Element: loss of connection.

The Fire Element restores connection, not only to the human world in terms of relationships to family and community, but also to the natural world that encompasses us as human beings. Connection to others and connection to nature are part of the same whole.

Healthy Relationships and the Fire Element in Five Element Acupuncture

One way that we can nourish the Fire Element and help relieve depression is by building healthy relationships. Isolation and loneliness have been shown in many research studies to be a factor in depression. Friendship, family and community are governed by the power of the Fire Element in Five Element acupuncture and the capacity to express love.

Healing relationship can be challenging because not all relationships are healthy. Many people have been hurt in the past by toxic connections, leaving them distrustful and fearful of reaching out. Someone may have a family history of demeaning and abuse, leaving them vulnerable. Communities and groups can also be hostile and discriminatory, scapegoating individuals. Nourishing the Fire Element through relationship requires both courage and the ability to discern healthy relationships from toxic ones.

What are the essential ingredients of healthy relationship? In a healthy relationship, whether friend, family or larger community, every person must be held in the highest personal regard. Every person must be treated with respect, kindness and empathy. There must be authenticity, honesty and trust. And, there is one more essential ingredient: sharing. Healthy relationship involves both giving and receiving. Nourishment and energy must flow both ways for the Fire Element to heal.

One form of relationship deserves special mention for those seeking to heal depression:  the relationship with a healer, guide, mentor or teacher.  This may be a health care practitioner, a spiritual teacher, or a wise elder.  Building a safe relationship with someone who understands without judging, and has the experience to guide you on your healing path, may be the first step in empowering you to heal other relationships in life.

Connection to Nature and the Fire Element in Five Element Acupuncture

Human beings are animals. We evolved on planet Earth. We respond to it. We are part of the habitat, just as much as any other ape. Modern Western thinking, rooted in mind-body dualism, splits us off from instinct and nature. We see ourselves as separate from the whole web of life. We lose connection with the natural world and, by extension, our true nature.

Urban life may leave us with so little contact with the outdoors that nature feels alien and uncomfortable. We go from climate-controlled building to car to building. Yet, many studies show that even simple exposure to green space and sunlight – say, having an office with a window that faces greenery – has physical and mental health benefits, including relieving depression.

There are many ways to connect with nature. It doesn’t have to mean taking a hike in wilderness. It can be something simple, like bringing a living plant into your home, or paying attention to the beauty of a flower. The key here is that connection with living things shifts your focus to the present moment. It takes you away from yourself and gives you a little relief from your mental state. Even a moment of relief, the space of a breath, is beneficial.

Caring, Touch and the Fire Element in Five Element Acupuncture

Two common activities that connect to the natural world offer special remedies for both mental and physical health: gardening and pets. Both of these have been shown in multiple studies to have health benefits, including helping to relieve depression.

The first remedy is caring. Tending living things, whether plants or animals, builds healthy relationship outside the human sphere. That relationship nourishes our own spirit and the Fire Element. You can’t spend all your time in bed if someone else you care about depends on you, even if it’s just walking the dog every day.

The second remedy is touch. Touching animals, plants and the earth itself takes us out of our heads and away from our mental chatter. It brings us into experience of the present moment. We respond to the natural rhythm of other living things. Touch calibrates our physiological rhythms like a great tuning fork. For example, studies have shown that petting a dog stimulates release of oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone,” for both the dog and the human.

Healing Connections: the Journey

When depression is overwhelming and terrifying, each of these ways to reconnect – gardening, petting the dog, taking a hike, sharing with a friend – may seem too small to help. Please understand that healing connections and nourishing the Fire Element is a process. It’s the journey not the destination. Chinese wisdom tells us that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you have been depressed for a long time, you know not to expect instant results. Just take one step, and then another, and another.

The Fire Element lives in the present moment. Every small step to reconnect is moment when you are truly alive, strengthening love and creating the possibility for joy to arise.


Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 64

Hari, Johann, 2018, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions

Larre, Claude and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee, 1996, The Seven Emotions

Worsley, J.R., 1998, Classical Five-Element Acupuncture, Vol. III

Inner Works Acupuncture is a Five Element acupuncture clinic in Portland, Oregon. Call us today at (503) 227-2127 to schedule an appointment.

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