Justin’s project was brought to my attention when my fiancee and I were discussing the strengths and weaknesses of masculine and feminine energy and how many societies are built around these inherited beliefs.
Take religion, for instance (not to put the spotlight on a hot topic…).
It is rigid and authoritarian in nature, built on the foundation of hierarchy, much like government and corporation, and can be regarded as a stream of energy that is masculine, patriarchal, and authoritarian.
Ideally, religion can be associated with patriarchy (but only for sake of my post.)
I believe that many of us can refer to our own experiences with men and realized that masculinity is often associated with stoicism and the inability to be vulnerable around anyone, especially those we love.
It is endurance, sacrifice, and expectation; not to mention emotional oppression…
My fiancee and I also discussed father-son/father-daughter relationships and how the relationships (both balanced/imbalanced) influence a child’s growth and their ability to create stability, prosperity, and abundance.
Coming from a past stigmatized by negative male interactions, it was insightful to discuss this topic with my fiancee because it made me realize that much of my outlook on life, as well as my prior treatment of others, stemmed from these “daddy issues”.
It was strange to think that I, as conscientious as I am, could be subject to it!
But there I was, rolling through a list of items he’d programmed for me.
The inability to accept that I was wrong
The inability to freely express my emotions
The fear of getting my hopes up “because you’ll only be disappointed“
And running when I couldn’t handle or commit to a relationship
It was a lot of baggage that made it difficult to commit to jobs and relationships and it made it difficult to stay in one place for too long. He taught me that the only way to preserve myself was to escape and that is what I did when life became too hard to cope with.
Upon reflecting on a lot of what I endured, it took little effort to realize that my masculinity was broken because of the example before me.
Talk about ancestral inheritance!
When watching this first episode, I gradually found a weight lifting off my shoulders when I realized that I was not alone in the struggle of masculinity and the way that society plays in a role in its image and evolution.
It was like someone had finally addressed the elephant in the room.
In retrospect, masculine energy is much like earth in that it is associated with strength and stability whereas feminine energy is like water in that it is emotional and creative freedom.
When you have too much of either element, it only leads to dysfunction and discordance and a whole lot of noise..
Since then, I’ve gone out of my way to transform the negative patriarchy. So far, it’s been a hard road but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that…
Men just need to learn to love their inner women and children.
When others are wrong I am in the wrong. When I have transgressed I alone am to blame.
Sixth Patriarch Huineng
Philip Kapleau says, ” With the spiritually developed it is otherwise. It would be hard, I think, to find a higher ethical principle than that enunciated by the sixth patriarch of Zen, who said, ‘When others are wrong I am in the wrong. When I have transgressed I alone am to blame.’ Such a deep sense of personal responsibility could come only from one who truly understood the law of causation at a profound level. Such a person would know that the network of interrelationships between all forms of life is so vast and complex that we cannot, in a cosmic sense, disavow responsibility for whatever happens anywhere–least of all for the repercussions, on our own and others’ lives, of our thoughts, speech, and actions.
Someone once came to me for help in resolving the angry feelings he had for a former girlfriend. I asked him what he had been doing to this end and he replied that he had been directing loving thoughts toward her. I suggested he start reciting a repentance verse and begin directing feelings of contrition toward her. He was taken aback. ‘Why should I apologize to her?’ he insisted. ‘She was the one who hurt me.’ ‘But,’ I told him, ‘the fact that you felt pain means you did something to earn it; no doubt you caused her pain as well. You equally share responsibility for this situation.'”
For the way we die reflects the way we have lived. A good death puts the stamp on a good life. “Just as a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death.” But if we have lived a life of emotional turmoil and conflict, or a selfish and inane existence, our dying will be troubled and painful. Instead of seeking ways to prolong our lives through medical technology, we would better serve ourselves and society by dedicating ourselves to improving the spiritual and moral quality of what life we have.
Enlightenment does not mean that we lose the ability to experience sorrow and it does not mean that we become tranquil and unfeeling… It means that we are capable of accessing the deep, non-egoic, heart of love and compassion and that we can mourn the presence of pain, celebrate joy, and experience life in all its vibrant facets. Despite that we suffer, and live in a world of suffering, it means that we can be in the heart of hearts and still remember love.
Self-estrangement and anxiety are not something accidental to the ego-self, but are inherent to its structure. To be human is to be a problem to one’s self regardless of one’s culture, class, sex, nationality, or the era in which one lives. To be human means to be an ego-self; to be an ego-self means to be cut off from both one’s Self and one’s world, which means to be in constant anxiety. This is the human predicament. The ego-self, split at the root into subject and object, is forever dangling from a bottomless abyss, unable to gain any footing.
:: Absolute, or complete, Samadhi is a state of total immersion in which one is no longer aware of oneself as a subject separate from a person, thing, or activity as an object. It is a a state of intense yet effortless concentration, of heightened and expanded awareness.
“In the case of the ordinary person, intellect promotes discrimination and delusion, but if it is employed with a knowledge of its limitations by one who has awakened, it can directly illumine the Way itself and act as a vital means of showing the Way to others.”
Wheels represent how things begin and end on the same note and go through a cycle of birth, growth, harvest, and death. They represent the cyclical nature of things and reflect the motion of our lives, our experiences, and even our relationships.
The planets, the sun, the moons, atoms, cells, our eyes, dream catchers, marbles, and lots of other things are circular as well. Wheels, or circles, are also used in alchemical grids, they compose the structure of the fruit and the tree of life, and have a rounded nature, just like the spiraling golden ratio.
Wheels are also used in transportation, they are plates, bottle caps, steering wheels, wreaths, door knobs, soccer balls, oranges, compact discs; many objects in our daily lives we often bypass. Circles are often involved with motion, support, action, and creation.
It is easy to see that much of what we create as a race involves many things of a circular nature! As is the nature of things, as my professor would say. 🙂
Because I love wheels and circular things so much, I thought I would share the Chinese Medicine Wheel. On one part, it is because I think it is a very important tool for learning about oneself, and on the other, because it is a kind of medicine I think has an integral part in understand our balance of yin and yang, the health of our minds and bodies, our personalities, and the way that we interact with the world.
Interestingly enough, my professor stated that America has the fire sickness and that the best thing we can do for ourselves is balance our elements and understand how it affects our bodies, our dietary needs, and behaviors.
(My professor’s favorite example was angry drivers, haha.)
First, here is a well-rounded look at the Chinese Medicine Wheel:
Image courtesy of Tom K Brink
I just want to highlight the irony of Fire and note that per Medical News Today (as well as my Mosby’s Pathology book and various other sources), that heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. 1 out 4 people experience heart attack, stroke, angina (chest pain), arrhythmias, and heart failure; this is 23.4% of total deaths in the country. That’s a big deal!
You will see that the wheel is composed of five elements; moving in a clock-wise direction.
You will also notice that there is a small block of information belonging to each element. Each describes what the element controls and promotes and what domains it specifically represents according season, color, and emotion.
This brings me to the star of arrows at the center of the wheel, which you always start according to your most dominant element (and there can be more than one).
For example, we will start at fire… fire generates earth by controlling metal.
See how the first arrow demonstrates the statement? Then how metal promotes water by controlling wood? And how metal goes to wood and so on and so forth? These are what I would call their elemental attributes, meaning, if you have a lot of fire in your wheel, metal or water would be keys for balancing it.
And how does one balance their elements?
Traditionally, practitioners of Chinese Medicine would (and will) usually prescribe herbal tea, acupuncture, an element-oriented diet, and a healthy dose of meditation, Qi Gong, or Tai Chi! (Eastern practitioners will typically look at your health first through your elemental wheel, determining whether you are more yin and yang and what happens to be your dominant element. Though there are Western practices assimilated into modern-Eastern medicine, traditional-Eastern medicine is still strong.)
You will also notice that each element has two sets of organs.
Those on the inside of the circle are Yin attributes (introverted) which transform and that the outside are Yang attributes (extroverted) which transport. Personally, I relate it to a matter of thinking vs. doing.
Water and metal dominate my wheel which means that I am a very introverted person, but because I live in a fire-based society, have had to learn how to communicate audibly and effectively, meaning that I’ve had to assimilate and blend in a lot of yang.
I have also noticed that a lot of my work at current has been in the Metal, Water, and Fire domains. I’ve had to cut down on particularly nasty nightshade vegetables and spicy foods and have had to up my intake of herbal teas for digestion; I have been using Ginger Aid from Traditional Medicinals (which is a quality brand, I might add).
(I could ramble on about tea brands I don’t like but I’ll save that for another time.)
As my professor noted, there are certain foods that belong to certain elements and one of the first ways to eat balanced meals is to increase our intake of foods that belong to elements we need more of and to reduce foods that belong to elements we need less of.
I consider them adjustments rather than complete changes because Spirit knows there are some things I just can’t sacrifice… Like chocolate.
Chinese people believe that consuming food that is red in color is good for your heart, small intestine, and brain.
Foods that fall into this category include carrots, tomato, sweet potato, strawberry, chili, red beans, red pepper, jujube, goji berry, dragon fruit, apple, brown sugar, and anything else that is a shade of red.
If you consume green-colored food, it’s good for your liver, gallbladder, eyes, muscle, and joints.
The list of green foods could be endless. Some of the main ingredients used in Chinese food include mung bean, Chinese leeks, wasabi, and all the green vegetables and fruits.
According to this theory, yellow food is good for your digestive system and spleen.
Again, yellow is a common color in food. You can eat things like sweet or baby corn, yellow sweet potato, taro, oats, pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow pepper, soybeans, egg yolk, bean curd, ginger, orange, star fruit, lemon, pineapple, papaya, peanut, walnut, honey, and more.
If you eat white-colored food, it is supposed to benefit your lungs, large intestine, nose and respiratory system, and skin.
Common white foods include rice and noodles, both of which are staples in Chinese cuisine. The list also includes lotus seed, daikon, onion, garlic, bitter melon, winter melon, broccoli, bamboo shoots, white wood ear, milk, tofu, soy milk, Asian pear, banana, almond, white sesame, rock sugar, and more
Black and blue foods are reportedly good for your kidneys, bones, ears, and reproductive organs.
Black or dark blue foods aren’t as numerous, but the list includes some great options. Look for ingredients like wood ear, seaweed, shiitake mushrooms, eggplant, black beans, raisins, blueberry, black grapes, black sesame, black vinegar, tea, sweet bean sauce, and more.
I love me some seaweed snacks; I always share a couple of small sheets with my cat because it has a lot of great benefits for him; in addition to that he loves them. Because I could ramble on about cats and how imperative their health is too, I’ll just shamelessly drop another link….
Anyhow, it can be noted that food color has a lot to do with what element on the wheel we are feeding and it can be noted that the same can be said for the chakras!
If you want to feed your heart, send it a little love by eating green stuff and filling it with intent while you prepare it. That is a lovely magical way to feed your soul and your body simultaneously.
The next post has the questionnaire and the elements sheet that my professor passed out. In it, I explain how the questionnaire works and what it means to your wheel, and I will explain the elements sheet and how it helps identify the elements in your chart according to your personality.
After that, the information is yours to play with!
Please not that this article is not a medical replacement: it is not intended to recommend, prescribe, or diagnose any situations or conditions you might have and is not meant to replace your healthcare regime or physician. It is also important to know that none of this is a cure-all, and that if you have any health issues, it is important to consult your doctor or a nutritionist before you take on any specific diet or make any changes to it.
I do not hold any current medical accreditation and should be noted that my information comes from the team at the Healing Arts Institute as I am a student for Massage Therapy due to graduate in October in Fort Collins, CO.
If you have any questions or comments, either contact me directly or leave a comment below.