Archive for October, 2011

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The Four Elements

October 12, 2011

Our bodies are comprised of three quite distinct structures or hierarchical levels. The highest, or deepest, level is the core of our body, made up of all our internal organs. This structure is divided up into five distinct sections, the head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis, but all of them combine to produce a single entity that pulsates with the life force of breathing. The entire structure expands and contracts with breathing and although it is possible to breathe with conscious effort, this is largely an involuntary action controlled at a sub-conscious level. We breathe without knowing we are and we breathe in our sleep. This is also the structure that processes our food, controls the flow of our blood and allows for the capacity to think, feel and undertake actions through our will. However, it is also far more than this. In a bio-mechanical sense it is the foundation of our strength. It provides the body with a core around which the skeleton is arranged, a core that has a resistance to compression providing stability to the body. We consider this structure pneumatic, not because it is responsible for breathing, but because of its compressional properties. It is composed of living tissue but behaves in a pneumatic sense. Being at the heart of our body’s strength and function it is ultimately responsible for our ability to rise up against gravity. This is the element of ‘air’.

Built around and dependent upon our pneumatic structure is our skeletal structure. We tend to think of this structure as being made up of our bones, but in reality these are merely the inert remains that we can wire together and hang up in the biology laboratory at school. Of course the bones serve a purpose in providing rigidity to the structure, but it is the joints that provide the forces to this structure and the bones are formed as sedimentary deposits along the force lines between the joints. Each joint is a fluid filled capsule having an hydraulic capacity and, combined, these joints provide for the body’s ability of movement. It is our skeletal structure that gives our bodies their fluidity. This is the element of ‘water’.

Finally we have the skeletal muscles. Attached to the bones, and so obviously dependent upon the skeletal structure, our muscles are responsible for the actuation of movement. They are the force and the power in our movements. Our muscles cover our body giving it a strong outer casing. Relaxed muscle is soft, but tense muscle is incredibly solid. This is the element of ‘earth’.

These three elements of ‘air’ ‘water’ and ‘earth’ complete the picture of our physical body, but we must now consider the fourth element; that of ‘fire’. I often consider this element poorly named, fire being destructive in essence, and feel that it should really be referred to as ‘warmth’, which has a formative essence, so in this context I will refer to the element of ‘warmth’. This is the element that pervades throughout the other three. Our skin is warm to touch and our bodies have an internal temperature. However, I believe there is more to warmth than mere heat or temperature. I live in a body that fifteen years ago was paralysed from the waist down. For the last ten years I have been slowly rebuilding the damaged structure of my body through Advanced Bio-Mechanical Rehabilitation (ABR Therapy) and as I do it is slowly coming back to life. That feeling of life welling up within regions of my body that have been lifeless for many years is truly incredible. It is difficult to explain, but in reality I can only describe it as ‘warmth’. It is true that the ability of a paralysed body to regulate temperature is impaired, but I am not suggesting that a paralysed body is cold and once brought back to life it is warm again. I am not talking here of temperature, but of that comforting feeling of a life force within us, a feeling that can only be described as ‘warmth’.

Long may it continue to well within me.

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