Ayurveda is a sanskrit word meaning ‘the science of life and longevity’. According to this science, every individual is both, a creation of cosmic energy and a unique phenomenon or a unique personality. Ayurveda teaches that we all have a constitution, which is our individual psychological and biological makeup. From the moment of conception, this individual constitution is made by the universal energies of space, air, fire, water and earth.
The concept of five elements is one of the most fundamental in ayurvedic science. These five elements exist in all matter, both organic and inorganic. A human being is a part of nature, therefore, the five elements also exist within each individual. Ayurveda says that these elements come up sequentially in a person’s lifetime starting with space.
Sometimes referred to as ‘ether’, space is empty, light, subtle, all-pervading, omnipresent and all enclosing. It is universal and formless. We need space in order to live, move, grow and communicate. Space in the body include the nose, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, abdomen and thorax. In the psychological sense, space gives freedom, peace and expansion of consciousness. It is responsible for love, compassion, feeling of isolation, separation, insecurity, anxiety and fear.
Air is light, clear and mobile and moves in space. Air being formless can be perceived by touch. Air expresses itself in the movements of muscles, the pulsations of the heart and the expansion and contraction of lungs. It is responsible for breathing, ingestion and the movement of the intestines. The flow of thought, desire and will are governed by the air principle which gives us happiness, freshness, joy and excitement. Just like space, it is also responsible for fear, anxiety, insecurity and nervousness.
Fire is hot, dry, sharp, penetrating and luminous. When air begins to move, it produces friction, which generates heat or fire. In our solar system, sun is the source of fire and light. In our bodies, Our biological fire regulates temperature and metabolism along with digestion, absorption and assimilation. Fire is associated with light and vision. It is important for transformation, attention, comprehension, appreciation, recognition and understanding. Psychologically, it is responsible for anger, hatred, envy, criticism, ambition and competitiveness.
The next manifestation of consciousness, water, is fluid, heavy, soft, vicious, cold, dense and cohesive. Water is associated with the sense of taste. This means that without moisture the tongue cannot taste anything. Water exists in the body in the form of all sorts of fluids like saliva, urine, sweat, etc. It is necessary for nutrition and to maintain life. Water means contentment, love and compassion. It creates thirst, edema and obesity.
Earth is heavy, hard, rough, firm, dense, slow-moving and bulky i.e. the most solid of the five elements. It is neither hot nor cold. According to ayurveda, it is nothing but solidified consciousness. It gives energy and stamina to the body. All the solid structures in the body like nails, teeth, hair, etc., are derived from this element. Earth promotes forgiveness, support and growth. It also creates attachment, greed and depression.
Both in our outer environment and within us, the balance of these elements is forever shifting and changing with the seasons, the weather, the time of the day and the stage of one’s life. For health and survival we have to continuously accommodate ourselves to these changes through what we eat and wear, where we live and so on. Are you ready to make the change?