Episode 198: The Five Elements in Psycho-Emotional Health
with Mindi K. Counts, MA, L.Ac.
Understanding our traits and tendencies through the Five Element framework allows us to see ourselves in a new light, so we can make better decisions in our daily life, and steer ourselves in the direction of health rather than disease.
Mindi K. Counts shares a ton of great insights for how we can start to get in touch with and nurture our health by applying the Five Elements to both our physical and emotional well-being.
On Today’s Episode of A Healthy Curiosity:
- How she found her way to this profession
- Her approach for helping people understand their own stories
- A brief overview of the mental and emotional aspects to the Five-Element framework
- Why it’s important to look at both the virtues and weaknesses of the elements
Mindi K. Counts, MA, LAc., is an integrative medical practitioner and Five-Element acupuncturist. Co-founder of the Inner Ocean Center for Healing, Mindi is a keynote speaker, retreat leader and teacher. She is the author of Everyday Chinese Medicine and a contributing author to the Trauma Toolkit and Singing Our Heart’s Song.
She is the founder of the international nonprofit Inner Ocean Empowerment Project, providing holistic healthcare and education through volunteer service missions to underserved populations around the world and in the U.S. She has been featured in several publications including Dr. Oz’s The Good Life magazine for her work in Indian slum communities, Burmese refugee clinics and earthquake-ravaged areas of Nepal.
Mindi is a graduate of Naropa University’s Contemplative Psychology program and holds a Master’s degree in Classical Five Element Acupuncture from the Institute of Taoist Education and Acupuncture. She lives with her family and rescued pit bulls in the foothills of Colorado.
Inner Ocean Center for Healing
Inner Ocean Empowerment Project
Everyday Chinese Medicine by Mindi K. Counts
Connect with Mindi:
Check out the Basics of Chinese Medicine Course
Learn more about working with Brodie
Welcome to A Healthy Curiosity. The podcast that explores what it takes to be well in a busy world with self care strategies from Chinese medicine, functional medicine, Ayurveda, neuroscience, and beyond I’m your host, Broie Welch, licensed acupuncturist and transformation catalyst here to support you on your journey of health, happiness, and personal evolution.
Welcome to today’s show I’m your host Brodie Welch, licensed acupuncturist, and a self-care strategist. And with me today is a colleague who like myself as passionate about educating other people about how to take care of themselves so that we can put that knowledge into practice to see. In the direction of health instead of in the direction of illness and not feeling well.
My guest today is Mindi K. Counts, who is a licensed acupuncturist and integrative medical practitioner and the co-founder of Inner Ocean Healing. Center for healing rather, she’s also a keynote speaker retreat leader and teacher she’s the author of everyday Chinese medicine, which is a book that has come out on healing remedies for immunity, vitality, and optimal health.
She also is the founder of an international nonprofit Inner Ocean Empowerment Project, providing holistic healthcare and education through volunteer service missions, to underserved populations around the world and in the U S. Mindy welcome to a healthy curiosity. I’m so excited to talk to you today.
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me first off. It’s always interesting to me how people find their way to our profession. What is your path look like? Oh, my goodness. It was quite spirally. I was actually in route to becoming a therapist. I wanted to be a licensed professional counselor. I wanted to work with women and.
In a professional counseling program at Naropa university. When I started facing some of my own kind of challenges with a little bit of depression and anxiety, a lot of anxiety, and it was sort of derailing my focus and someone recommended, um, bless her that I try acupuncture. And I ended up at the time.
I thought acupuncture was. Really only for pain. That was just in my mind what I thought, what I’d heard. And so I did decide to try it and it was my first session, which I still remember was amazing. I remember walking out of her office and feeling like myself again. And feeling a lightness of being it wasn’t like all my problems went away, but it was like a lightness of being and a sense of okayness and basic goodness about my life.
And I did commit to a year basically of, of treatment with her. And it totally changed my life. And after that year, I did decide to finish out my counseling degree and then, um, went straight pretty much straight into acupuncture school, the little path. So I’d love to, if you don’t mind sharing a little bit more about, did it actually help your depression, like beyond that momentary sense of well, oh my gosh, I absolutely, I can’t even tell you.
It was like now I’m someone I believe we should all be in therapy. And I, and I have been in therapy for years and wasn’t there be for years before getting acupuncture. And there was something about the added, you know, moving energy actually in my body through the treatment that helps me expedite some of the more cognitive.
Patterns and stories I had about myself, you know, dealing with depression and the sadness and the negative self image. It was almost like I just got to push the gas pedal a little bit faster through some of that terrain. And it was, you know, acupuncture combined with my relationship with my acupuncturist, which.
We were very much diving into the, the terrain of the elements, looking at hadrons in my life and some of my story and past medical, uh, challenges, you know, body stuff and mental stuff as well. And I remember after about a year of working with this particular, um, acupuncturist, she said, What do you say? We open up your file and look back to some of your, you know, your initial things that you were working on and just make sure we’ve covered some ground.
So she opens up my file and she’s like, So, where would you say you’re at with anxiety right now? And I have to say, when she asked me that question, it like didn’t even land anywhere in my body. I was like, what do you mean anxiety? Like, I hadn’t actually felt anxious in so long. It was like, it’s like someone, someone else’s chart right.
Exactly. Long ago we forget glee. And she was like, it says that you said on your very first appointment that you were experiencing anxiety. 80% of the time and at a level of about eight out of 10. Yeah. So I mean, yeah, I couldn’t even touch it. You know, it was like not even a part of me. So you mentioned the fact that, I mean, at, for, for listeners to this show, most likely, most people are familiar with the fact that Chinese medicine.
Is this complete system of healthcare that encompasses not only acupuncture, but also things like lifestyle and diet and meditation and body work and, and also applying the philosophy to our lives. And so that the idea that the relationship that you had with your practitioner, where you were getting into the patterns, the, how you habitually relate to life is as much as a way that we stagnate and limit our growth.
As anything else and that, that, so that a lot of, you know, a lot of times when people ask me about like Chinese medicine coaching, for example, people are like, well, how does that work? You can’t needle people over the phone. Like, oh yeah, there is, there are so many ways that we can use our insights into people’s psyches.
Because of our training in Chinese medicine that we can help people get out of ruts. And of course, there’s, you’ve done all sorts of specialized training in your counseling of knowing, giving people tools to take care of themselves. But I’d love to hear a little bit more about your approach of like using how do, how do you help people understand their story so that they can transcend it.
Yeah, well, back to what you were saying about basically acupuncture being, you know, one of the branches of this vast system of medicine, you know, one of the first conversations I have with new clients is, Hey, this isn’t just a, you coming in and receiving needles every week kind of thing. This is a participatory journey that we go on together and I will commit just as much.
You commit, and we will be looking at an earthing, your diet and your lifestyle, and kind of looking for areas where you are really congruent and then areas where it’s more misaligned. You know, for example, if you’re a real sort of yin natured person or introverted natured person, and you’re in a very young driven position, uh, in your work, that’s going to lead to a lot of exhaustion and a lot of, you know, health problems, usually a lot of.
Function and that sort of thing. So, so that part about, yes. You know, it there’s so much more than just needles when it comes to seeing a Chinese medicine practitioner. And when it comes to story are the stories we hold are so important. One because our stories really craft who we become. And if we hold stories about negative self image or lack of success or.
You know, always waiting for the other shoe to drop that kind of thing. Then we basically create a world where that’s always possible. And so part of looking at stories is, is starting to kind of crack open the possibility that, that it’s not a hundred percent true. You know, the stories that we hold about ourselves, that there might be some wiggle room in there.
Sometimes we get stories from our parents or our families. You know, if our, if our mom had a low self-esteem and her mom had a low self-esteem, we’re likely going to get all the signs and signals of developing a low self-esteem. Young women. And so that’s a big part of what I like to unpack with my clients is looking at what are all of these sort of explicit and implicit stories we’ve adopted.
And then we just start chipping away. You know, we look at antidotes, uh, antidote behaviors, antidote, mantras, getting acupuncture and body work. You know, really enables the nervous system to develop more elasticity so we can actually. Create room for new stories for new paradigms. And so that’s what I love about being able to integrate both the sort of cognitive kind of talk therapy aspect of working with clients, as well as the, the actual acupuncture and working physically with a person’s body.
We get to help them not necessarily transcend, but really start to integrate some of these things, these new ways of being, and. Examining the old ways that are maybe not, not as helpful. So, yeah, I don’t know if I answered your question, but I think it just, what I, what I was hoping to get at, I think you, you answered the kind of beautiful layers are looking, looking at the past, looking at like, well, well, if I, if I do have low self-esteem or low self-worth or an idea, a limiting belief about who I am in the world, First of all, where did that come from?
And is it true? And just recognizing that, that these stories that often hold sway about that, that influence our daily actions and also how we view the world, whether or not we view and value, what is in ourselves already. This is where I feel like looking at ourselves through the lens of yin and yang and through the lens of the five elements that we can really help people.
That I love that you said like antidote behaviors and antidote mantras. Like, I I’d love to have you expound on that, but just the, I, the idea that for me, at least when I’m thinking about, when I’m thinking about helping someone. For example, if they are feeling bad about themselves because of X, Y, and Z, you know, like let’s say they’re feeling bad about themselves, that they don’t feel like they have a right to assert their own wants and needs and desires that other peoples are more important or that it’s selfish for, for asserting those needs.
Right. That’s, that’s a pattern that we yeah. See with our earth element patients and being able to call that into question and say like, okay, well this thought form, like if it’s not necessarily true, that opens up other avenues for being in the world where you can break this pattern, right? Where are you?
Where are you where you can kind of step and evolve and in a different way. And, and, and in that sense, teaching people that. That maybe you had parents who didn’t value the same kind of things that you valued, or maybe you had like, maybe it was necessary to adapt to the chaos of your upbringing by becoming very earthy.
And that that’s actually an exaggeration, you know, or something that you don’t necessarily need to lean on as heavily as an adult. And so being able to just like, kind of look at different traits and tendencies through this five element lens, I think a lot of times people can get like, oh yeah, there’s me being overly metal again.
Or like, oh yeah. There’s, there’s my, there’s where my wood elements. It’s over and whacks me out of balance and causes me to deplete into my reserves and just helping people understand, like looking through the lens of the five elements, they can oftentimes see their, their own imbalances and be able to act differently.
Would you agree with that? Absolutely. Yes. And I just, you know, feeling the sense of relief. In the languaging of the five elements, for example, you know, someone who says I’m depressed, I’m chronically depressed versus someone who says I really struggle with a metal imbalance. And so it’s, it’s not about bypassing, but it is about acknowledging the stories right there.
There’s a very different, energetic quality to, I am depressed. I am a chronically depressed person. Versus I, I really struggle with metal. I really struggle with metal energy and letting go and letting the things that need to die, die so that they can make space for the new that’s my challenge. And so, so that frames it totally differently.
And we as practitioners, like our first job should be to strip off the, the allopathic label, right. That we take depression and we throw it in the garbage and we say, all right, depression can mean 10,000 things. What does it look like for you? And then we get a sense of what it looks like for that person.
And then we’re able to maybe ascribe a new label to it, or like, just see it in with a different framework and be able to move from there. Um, which I think is just the gift of looking through multiple lenses and in the world, I’m wondering if it would be potentially interesting and useful to do like a super fast overview of what the five elements are like so that people can get a taste of.
Um, cause I know this is something that you dive into pretty heavily in your book coming from a five element tradition and um, whether or not that could maybe pique people’s interest in, in seeing themselves to. Oh, sure. You know, there’s so much we could say about the five elements. Absolutely. Well, and it is the kind of thing, um, that yes, obviously it could, we could go on for days and years talking about it, but just in terms of like people or like what it just in terms of maybe, um, we could, we could make this, we could narrow the scope a little bit to the.
Dominant strengths and weaknesses that tends to throw people out of balance. If they are. Yeah, just the mental, emotional aspect. yeah. So, um, I would say, let’s start with fire. How about that? Sure. The elements of fire is, you know, sort of the most young energy out of the five. And so if you think about summertime and that kind of upward, rising, expansive kind of energy, um, the emotions that are related to that.
Joy. And then the other end of the spectrum would be sadness. And so sometimes to kind of assess someone’s, uh, fire elements, I would ask them questions like, where is your joy? What are you celebrating? Who or what can you trust? Because trust is a big thing. When we have a really solid fight, healthy fire element, we really trust not just ourselves, but we can also trust the way we’ve set up our world.
And the way we’ve set up our lives. And there are decisions from moment to moment and have close, intimate relationships that, um, that are safe. And so another element earth, earth element, which is related to the stomach. Actually before we leave fire for a second. So like, so in other words, every like just to, to contextualize this a little bit, every element is kind of like, if you look through, if you look at refining light through a prism, you can see all the different colors and its component parts.
And so when we’re thinking about this five element, you can think about it, visualize it. Circle where like the bottom of the circle is the most yin. The top of the circle is the most young and young is this like upward, outward, hot, busy, active fire element is the most young. And every, every element is going to have like a season, a taste, a color, a virtue, an emotion, uh, you know, like they’re really.
Everything in the universe could be divided into one of these five things, which is why it’s like, we’re just giving this quick cursory overview. But, but yeah, within that, there are sort of like these lessons of the elements that are, you know, that people kind of sometimes have to learn. And so yeah, if people are having trouble accessing joy, or if they’re having trouble trusting also the firearm.
Uh, pericardium the heart protector, which has to do with boundaries and has to do with our, our one-on-one relationships and things like that. So, so within these elements, there are like there’s there’s room to kind of maneuver and really acupoints can be little portals of consciousness that can, that can kind of restore the, the, the virtues and the functions of the elements of the body.
And that we can steer with things like food and lifestyle and diet and rewriting our stories, like in terms of how we think about it. So, okay. So now moving on to earth. Absolutely. Thank you for that visual too. You know, that visual is just sort of burned in my psyche. So whenever I start, well, he does like all of us as practitioners.
It’s like, how can we not draw this out? But unfortunately, people are going to have to use their imaginations because of the podcast. Yeah, so, and the other thing I’ll just add on to what you said is that we all are made up of all five of the elements, as you were saying, it’s like a prism and we are also a little bit, usually more dominant and one element versus some of the other.
And so, and then sometimes we can have kind of a, an Achilles heels sort of elements, something that when stuff goes down, you know, we, this element gets shaky. It’s like, if you always get a little bit of a coffer cold, every time you get really stressed out, If you get really irritable as a sign of stress, you know, that could be the wood element, getting a little bit shaky.
And so, so I will say that as well, but that we are also made up of all the elements. And so, you know this as a practitioner, we, we do work on all of them, even though someone might. So fire dominant, you know, we can’t negate it, but we still always want to encourage all the elements to stay in balance for that person.
Yeah. Like it’s, it’s not about making everybody look the same. It’s not about equal slices of the pie, but it’s about recognizing, okay. If you’re somebody who is. Your strengths and your gifts to the world are found in this particular element. It tells you what kind of context to be in, in order to maybe to self-actualize easily and what kind of, how you’re going to find your happiness, but you still also need to like be in, in balance within that.
And so the idea that again, knowledge is power and that this is how we can help ourselves steer. And the ideas sometimes are like, you can have fire, but your dominant element. And that’s where the problem is. So up to, you know, like. Sometimes our greatest strength and our greatest weakness or one of the same thing.
Exactly. Yes. And I love that you mentioned this part about sort of more purpose and more virtue aspect of the elements. Cause I remember, you know, I’ve had so many teachers over the years and there were sort of a, a group of teachers who they believed that the elements were only your Achilles heel. And it was like every fiber of my being.
Like rejecting that information because it’s not at all what I had ever seen in my treatment room. It just didn’t make sense to me. And so it sort of set me on this journey of really inquiring are they only challenges? And the answer is absolutely not when the elements, when someone who has a lot of fire in their constitution and we can help them balance it and find a way to live with that fire.
So it doesn’t burn them out. Then they are so in their hearts seat and able to live so fully from a place of authenticity, rather than trying to be like someone else or telling them their fire is bad. Or, you know what I mean? It’s like really encouraging this sort of natural impulses that we have.
Exactly. And if someone can look to like maybe somebody who. Fiery. They tend to be very social, very extroverted, outgoing, maybe they like to perform. And if they were told as a kid like, oh, you’re a show off or stop hogging the spotlight. It’s like, then that fire person is going to have a tough time.
Right? Like, are there, they’re going to, they’re going to be told that they’re too much and that they need to tone it down so that other people can be comfortable. And that might actually be holding them back from, from like what they were born to do on the planet. I am so with you Dan’s that said, right?
Like somebody who’s fiery, they mean they, it may be harder for that person to see their very real need for rest and downtime and alone time, because it’s not in their nature to necessarily need that as much as somebody who. Naturally has a lot of water in their constitution. Who’s naturally drawn to want to introspect and reflect and, and spends a lot of time contemplating their spirituality on a mountain top or something like that.
Exactly. Yes, but let’s keep going around the circle. So fi so fire for people who want to stick with this visual fire would be kind of at the very top, the most Dion. And then we’re going to move over into the earth elements, which is maybe going to be like two o’clock on this. Clock face of elements that we’re looking at.
Yes. And then also where we’re headed to energetically right now. So we moved from summer to late summer. We moved. So we’re starting to move a little bit more yen from, from young. And so what is this late summer season and, um, an earth element, spleen, stomach affiliation. What’s that all about? Yeah. So someone who has a lot of earth in their constitution tends to be, um, a very nourishing presence.
Someone who cares about not, not only nourishing themselves, but also nourishing others and being of service. They might have a really great community. They might have a really strong relationship with food and growing food, maybe gardening and things like that. You know, some of the emotions that are associated with earth are empathy or compassion.
And so someone who has really good, healthy earth element is someone who is able to really see themselves in the other and have an immense amount of compassion for them. And so. And then of course, like you said, the stomach and the spleen or the organs associated with earth, which are, you know, sort of our frontline of digestion and nutrition, absorption, nutrient absorption.
And so really working with our own microbiome and our own sense of groundedness and centeredness here on earth. And so. Yeah. Is there anything else you want to add to that I could cycle? Yeah. Well, it’s I guess like maybe just drawing the parallel that if, if earth element is about nurturing all life on the planet, that’s like kind of the, that’s the global aspect of earth.
And then inside the body, the earth. Spleen and stomach that’s responsible for nourishment and, you know, nursing all the cells in the body and getting that nourish net where it needs to go in the body and just like compassion. It’s not arbitrary. It’s not like there’s like a list of rules we have to, to look up it’s the nature of earth is to want to be, is to want to be generous and giving and supportive and loving and compassionate like this extension outward.
Of, of its nature right. Of, of its nature is about nurturing. And so, so that kind of like that inherent in, like, if we look at what it does in nature, you can extrapolate from what that element does inside the body and that, um, yeah. So when we have this, like this giving loyal, wanting to support, wanting to wanting to be rooted in the ground, wanting to connect to food, for example, It went out of balance.
There is the tendency to give beyond our capacity, right? Or to, or to maybe not assert our needs because we don’t want to rock the boat. We want to keep with harmony, or we want to, you know, we want it’s, it’s important to us that other people get their needs met. So maybe ours go on a back burner. And that, that can lead to, uh, that can lead to an imbalance.
That can be a little bit, uh, and, and that thus prevent us as earthy people from generously giving over. Absolutely well said yes. Earth out of balance earth is, um, yeah. Can overextend be that overextending and to where I’m, I’m putting your needs first. And then I’m just going to exhaust myself because I’m really taking care of you.
It’s oh. And for people who might be seeing themselves in that description, what’s your favorite self care assignment? Oh my gosh. Um, a lot of things I want them of the things I would say is a mantra that I like to work with is that my, my self worth is not tied to taking care of others. Yeah. I love that.
That’s so fun because, because from that mindset, when we believe it, then we get to include ourselves in that circle of compassion that we so easily extend to everyone. Exactly. Yes. All right. So after late summer, um, uh, after late summer comes autumn, this is a time that we associate with lungs and large intestine and the metal elements.
And so that’s going to, we’re going to be moving even more deeply towards the end. So maybe we’re at like a four 30 on our clock face. And, um, and go tell me about. Yeah. So, um, with metal, I always think of the energy of like the, the high priestess or priest, you know, someone who is pretty connected to something larger than themselves.
Someone who is, has sort of a, uh, Easily can find that bird’s eye view on life, you know, find that sort of big picture perspective. Um, someone who is more understanding or more willing to step into the, uh, letting go death transformation, fire that is always happening in our lives. And so, and grief, as you said, is one of the emotions associated with the metal element.
And so it’s not about, um, you know, of course an imbalance and metal can lead to being stuck in grief, but that grieving when it’s healthy is a really natural response to. Shedding this letting go this saying goodbye of our, to our old ways and calling in something new, a new way, a new level of health, um, you name it.
And so, and with the corresponds of the corresponding to the lungs, I think about, you know, inspiration. I know when my, when my metal is really healthy, I, I wake up feeling really. Inspired and really connected a good, solid sense of belonging here on this earth. And so. Yeah. And then on a physical level, you know, if you are someone who really struggles with metal, like we were talking earlier, you know, depression, sadness, things like that can happen.
And also, you know, on a physical level, uh, someone who really struggles with their immune system, you know, getting coughs and colds and asthmas and things like that, which sometimes we look at as kind of unprocessed grief. Also, um, you know, constipation, which is literally the body’s physical way of not letting go can also happen when the metal is out of balance.
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So tell us about a favorite self-care tip. If someone is perhaps like depressed because they haven’t let go of something or like, or maybe they’re, maybe it’s, it’s a perfectly appropriate non-pathological grieving time, but what are these people need to do if they don’t want to feel. Stuck or, or, or sad all day long, you know, like what it just, I know what I would do, but I’m curious about your, your first.
Yeah. I mean, this is a great question, right? Because it does depend on the person and kind of their level of resourcefulness. And if they are kind of wildly unresourced meaning they haven’t done, they don’t have, uh, they are potentially at risk of opening up the grief portal and then just diving in there for days and days.
You know, we obviously don’t want that to happen. And so sometimes I like to introduce this concept of. Titration where, what I recommend is actually once I’ve worked with someone a little bit, and I kind of understand where the grief is coming from, and I can kind of encourage them to, let’s just touch it together.
Let’s start with just touching on it, you know, versus opening up the flood gates and just stepping into, onto the train car and going south, you know, so we’ll just kind of touch it and just start to explore a little bit of that green. I feel a little bit of it and then we will pull out of there and then we will resource again by resource I’m sure.
You know what I mean? But things like doing nurturing things for ourselves, drink some tea, talk about other things. Um, you know, maybe talk with a friend. Phone, you know, things that really bring our energy up and remind us of who we are and the healthy aspects of what we’re trying to call in. And then each time we dive in a little bit more and a little bit more.
And so this is the titration piece and acknowledging that some days we don’t really have the capacity to. To dive into that terrain, but the importance of visiting that terrain allows the energy that’s there to move, right? Like that’s it, that really, I don’t know that that, that grief needs more than time and space.
Right. But if we, but there’s a difference between trying to outrun it by staying busy versus giving, giving you a little time in space. Oh, yes, exactly. And when you’re done with that, I like to, I like to suggest a pranayama practice, you know, to just help people feel like, because again, we’re, we’re in the territory of the lungs so we can utilize the lungs, get somebody breathing differently, it’s going to change their physiology.
So maybe something like a breath of joy or like something like that is that is more a young kind of a breathing practice. Yes, absolutely. And as you know, there are these magical little acupuncture points that also can just tap into a little bit of that old grief that stuck energy. You know, I think of, um, some of the great void points and the great abyss points that really, when we are so far removed, where we have kept ourselves so busy for so long, or really kind of disconnected to that aspect of our being, we can, you know, burn a little moxa or do a little tapping or even just talking to those acupressure essential oil.
It’d be great to tell us about where one of these points is in case people want to try. Um, oh, great question. So let’s see. What about very great. A best. How about that one? So if you look at the inside of your forearm and you see the crease from the inside of your elbow, and then you see your wrist crease about halfway.
In the middle of your forearm, just a little bit to the thumb side, you’ll find like a little, well in there. And that is the one of the great abyss points that really helps to start breaking up some of that old grief. And what I like to tell my clients is if it’s tender, You want to go there, you know, generally, but that tells you that you’re in the, like, it’s, it’s the difference.
I like to use the analogy that like that, where the textbook says a point should be is like the zip code and you palpate to find like the PO box, right. Like to get the exact location. So if it’s sensitive, it’s probably tells you that you’re in the right place. And if it’s especially tender, it probably means.
Yes. Exactly. So, okay, great. So somebody can anoint that point or burn moxa on that point or press that point. And by the way, this is not medical advice. Um, you know, this is, this is for informational purposes only. So, if we continue around the cycle, we moved from metal to water. So we moved from just like that.
Um, we moved from fall to winter, which is the season that corresponds with the water elements are kidney and bladder. And so once kidney and bladder. Yes. So now we are in sort of the most yin quality of energy in the cycle. And so this is, you know, deep winter kind of energy and it’s wet and still, and quiet and inward and all of that stuff and such an invitation with this energy to go inward and to be more alone.
And so definitely something that COVID. Has, uh, put a little pressure on all of our water elements, um, you know, are we able to be in that stillness and be more alone and be okay and find ourselves without sort of the bouncing off of a culture, the way that we usually do. And so, yes. And so the adrenals also, which sit right on top of the kidneys are very much a part of this water aspect as well.
And. You know, kind of what is typical of the most extreme kind of introverted person are qualities that you would associate with water, kind of a deep, rich imagination, maybe someone who has a tendency to watch and listen more than actually engage. Of course, I’m being very general because that’s not true of all water and someone who has the capacity to work.
Fear and face, uh, face, fear, fear of death, you know, big fears like that, as well as, uh, sort of the daily fears, um, of getting in our car and driving to work and things like that. There’s a lot of fear that’s been kicked up, obviously because of the pandemic. I feel like I don’t know anyone who isn’t dealing with some amount of low grade background noise fear right now.
And I’m curious how you help people, um, deal with. Yeah. Since the pandemic, you mean? Yeah. Or just like, just in generalized advice for kind of like for settling the water element for, for being, for helping people find some peace and some calm amidst, what can feel very choppy and, and uncertain. Yeah. I think one of the things that this fear, this COVID pandemic has really stirred up is the fear that we’re alone, that, you know, you’re alone over there and I’m alone over here.
And so that’s definitely the, where I like to start is, you know, you’re not alone. I know it might feel that way, but there’s a network of people who are, who are experiencing these similar things. And so. Yeah. Another thing that I really like to do is actually get people in water, in a body of water, um, because what ends up
like a bath or even just a foot bath at the very least, but the, the capacity that water has to help. Discharge any of the, you know, the gunk that we carry around with us on a daily basis, um, is incredible. And so even just to literally sink your body into the elements and allow your body to rest and to water is such a gift and can really transform some of our biggest, uh, you know, fear, thoughts, um, I left the, I love the Epsom salt bath, uh, with a little river essential oil.
That’s like one of my favorite sort of like deeply grounding, deeply rooting deeply, like letting, letting it just take the excess from your body, but also like that infusion of magnesium that just helps everything let go. Exactly. Yes. And I’m, uh, I’m of the thinking of the more self, the better, like I tell people, you know, for.
you know, also salt being, um, sort of the flavor and the mineral of what, of the water element it’s like, yes, let’s just feed your body, this nourishment and the salt that helps our bodies to relax and our vasculature to open up and help us get a reset, hit a reset button in our.
Yeah, I love it. And just food wise, if people are craving salt, it might be that, that there’s, that that’s something to pay attention to. Like, is there enough downtime, quiet introspection, you know, like that it’s like, could it be that the, that the adrenals are needing something, kidneys are needing something here and with so much adrenal.
Dysfunction, you know, nowadays people who are not that you were I’ve ever done this, but spending more cheese than they have, you know? And then the backlash of course, is that right? Then you wiped out. Right? And like, I feel like I have this conversation. Almost every practitioner because it’s in our nature to want to, to want to exceed our own capacity.
Like a lot of us have some earth in our constitution and there is, you know, or a drive to, to educate the world or both. Maybe I know, I know to me, I have a fair amount of earth and wood in my constitution. But what those two things drive me to do is deplete myself. And when I’m, when I’m running an energy deficit, when I know that I, when I do my energy budget, and I know that I’m not doing enough when I’m extending more than I’m giving back, then that means that I’m necessarily dipping into my reserves too much.
And that’s, that’s the kidneys, right? That’s that’s the, that’s the water element. It’s this reservoir that we can dip into, um, when necessary and recognizing that that’s not sustaining. All right. That when we do that over time, that’s where aging comes from. When we start to drain this special kind of energy called DJing that lives in the kidneys.
That’s one of the theories in Chinese medicine about how we get old, how we have, we start getting less juicy. And when we’re not able to keep up with the repairs that the body requires on a regular basis. Yes well said. Um, thank you. You know, uh, but I digress where we’re in the water element. We’re talking about talking about depletion.
We’re talking about all this stuff, and then we’ve got one more element to deal with and that’s would. So if we come up from, from the depths of, uh, 6:00 PM or. On this clock face where we’re moving up. We’re we’re coming to like what, like eight in the morning, nine in the morning, something like that, where the wood element is like, we’re moving from Yenti yang and we’re moving into from kidney and bladder to liver and gallbladder.
So yeah, less about liver gallbladder and what element, what element? So the wood elements. Yes. As you said, it is that movement of coming from that winter time to summertime, which is a forward and upward moving energy. And I like to use the word. A force, it’s a force kind of energy and anger also, which is a force as well as the emotion that’s often associated with wood.
And again, there is that beautiful, healthy aspect of, of being angry and how much change we can create in the world with our anger. And then of course there is sort of the unhealthy aspects of anger, which I would label more like a rage where it’s kind of a no boundary. And so someone who has a lot of wood energy, first of all, I will say that I feel like wood is definitely an element that is really encouraged in our culture boarded, right?
It’s because what the wind people are, the achievers and the entrepreneurs and the drivers and strivers, and the people who are like, you know, who, who are, are it’s in their nature to want to, um, achieve every goal and be the first be the best be the only. Yes exactly. And productivity and, uh, they’re the doers.
And so again, there is that healthy virtuous aspect of, you know, someone who has a lot of wood there, you know, make great lobbyists. They make great grassroots, you know, let’s change the way the system. It’s working right now. Cause it’s not actually working. And, and so they’re going to be the chief you’re nicer, right?
The person who is like, who is, who who’s maybe the, the, the one, the one who’s leading the charge, the general. Right, exactly. Right. Yes, and they, and they can hold the vision. Oftentimes someone who has a lot of wood is able to hold the vision, the plan, the blueprint of, uh, of exactly how this can be different and, and Y you know, and draw up the Conrad’s needed to, uh, fulfill this mission.
And so, again, of course, as that energy, like all of them can have an imbalanced aspect of it. When we start to see. A lot of irritation or, um, repressed emotions, you know, emotions that come out sideways. Um, and even a little bit of like backing up with toxins. Um, someone who’s not moving things through their body as well.
You know, a lot of those kinds of things can start to happen issues with digestion as well. Um, food not moving through and yeah. So when the wood gets out of balance, I feel like I often. First and more emotionally kind of, uh, emotions that haven’t moved in a long time. And also, I will say lately, especially I’ve been seeing a lot of really kind of depressed would, you know, people who have a lot of wood who have these incredible visions, who right now are new.
Able to fulfill them in the way that we would outside of a pandemic. There’s a lot of red tape on, you know, sort of the outside work that we can do. And so I have been saying a little bit more, uh, kind of depression around. Yeah. So there is this like that the nature of wood is like the nature of a tree trying to grow it.
The, it wants to move upward and outward. And when we are thoughted by circumstances, for example, like lockdown or quarantine or whatever it’s yeah. Like that, that wordiness creates a kind of frustration, right. That. We’re not able to do the thing that we are, that we have a vision for, that we have a plan for, which are very much what element things, right?
That, um, visioning planning, wanting to move, wanting to, wanting to make things happen, wanting to be young and not being able to do that can be incredibly frustrating. Some of us, a lot of wood energy. And so, so what, what’s the medicine. Oh, gosh, I mean, besides an excellent formula called free and easy water, but what else is a really excellent medicine for that?
Exactly. Well, one of the things I will say is that I do see, and I’m not sure if it’s, it’s probably no longer just Colorado, but you know, the draw to substances when wood is out of balance, I think is really, yeah. I don’t know if you would agree with me. Oh, I think there’s no doubt. I think the data would back that up for sure.
That well, and also just that, so like if the wood element is about timing and like things unfolding, according to the proper timing, like you mentioned, right? Like there could be a backup, like when, when energy stops moving freely and there’s this backup in the digestive system, or maybe there’s like PMs and there’s like this backup in the menstrual cycle, kind of that idea that what we want to do is, is for things to relax and.
So the desire for something like alcohol or marijuana, you know, like something that’s gonna like that that’s going to help like, ah, like this feeling of like letting go or this feeling of relaxation, we’re going to want that. Or we’re going to want to, uh, to rev up with some caffeine or some sugar, you know, like this idea of like being able to control our emotional state by looking to potent substances that do that is I think, yeah, we see that.
Yes, exactly. Yes. And one of the things I’ve noticed is, you know, I never want to tell someone who has a lot of wood, uh, that they just need to chill out. You know, it’s like, so not right. Right. Because like a lot of times, like those people, it’s not even in their nature to chill out. So usually like, to me, it’s like, that’s like, those people tend to need a, like a program of like, here’s how you can achieve relaxation, you know, appeal to the doing nature.
So maybe something like, rather than saying, like, go meditate. It might be like some achie gung practice or like a, you know, a yoga practice where, where they are breathing and moving at the same time. That can be. Can help move some of that stagnation, but in a way that is a bit more like that, they’ll actually do it as opposed to like sit down and do nothing or sit down and like, you know, try to let your mind be empty.
Like yeah, those people aren’t going to go. Exactly. Yeah. I would say also, you know, finding a way to help them funnel their energy versus, you know, kind of being splayed out in 500 directions. You know, if that’s kind of reeling it into one project or one or two focuses, For now and also, yeah. Wondering about this physical activity part.
I, I do notice that a lot of people who have a lot of wood in their constitution often need a little more activity than the rest of us. Um, people aren’t going to be able to relax till they go for a walk or a run or whatever it is. But yes, like having, helping those people recognize that that helps them stay in balance maybe more than like that second glass of wine or.
Yes exactly. You got it. I can’t believe we just made it around the five elements cycle and under an hour, that was pretty normal. Um, but it’s pretty amazing. And I really appreciate your take on it because it’s like, you know, that just, that there’s cause there’s so much to these things and being able to, um, Being able to just bounce ideas off of a colleague.
It’s really fun for me. And hopefully we’ve given people some ideas as to like ways of looking at themselves with a bit more compassion and also maybe with some ideas about like how to work with your nature in order to achieve balance. Um, I’m wondering if there’s anything else that you want to add before we wrap up here?
Gosh. I think the only thing, if we hadn’t said it already is just that permission to be who you are and that, and recognizing that those natural impulses you have might actually speak to something so much bigger and what your kind of gift or true nature is. And so, you know, like you were saying earlier, we definitely get these messages daily that we kind of are encouraged to be.
Pretty similar, you know, we’re kind of encouraged to all be the same and be the same level of functioning every day. And, and really that, that, I don’t think that’s true at all. I think that our natural impulses and an element of course is how I would also language that is part of our beauty and our individual.
And so if someone is listening and thinking, gosh, I’m really interested in this language, but I have these things that I’m working with. Sometimes these things that we’re working with are actually quite virtuous. You know, like, like we were talking about the emotions, it’s just, you know, nurturing them and helping them heal and come to the other side where.
They provide us energy rather than take our energy away. Um, so I think that’s the, that’s the big thing that I would say that’s so beautiful. It’s so beautiful because it’s so true that like that as one of my cheek on teachers, master Lou, who used to say is that like all of the trees in the forest don’t grow.
So look exactly the same, right? Like that there’s variations in different, different species in different shapes and different Heights and different size and how they look through the different. Different seasons is all different and giving ourselves permission to really honor it be in the present moment and, and work to like, first of all, just get, get a sense of being connected to ourselves so that we can identify what do we need in this particular moment, rather than forcing ourselves into a mold that either isn’t us or might’ve been right for us last season, but isn’t necessarily.
Right now, like we all, we move through these seasons and they move through us and we have the, like, just as we have all of the different elements within us. There’s also times in our life where one element might be, might be more dominant than another. And recognizing that the nature of life is dynamic.
And so if we can stay with that, if we can stay with that impulse. By being as present as we can with ourselves and being able to respond and have this dialogue with our bodies and hearts and minds and spirits so that we can steer in that direction of health rather than the direction of disease.
That’s really what it’s all about. Yes. Beautifully said Mindy counts. This has been such a fun conversation. I’m so glad to meet you and congratulations on the publication of your book everyday Chinese medicine. Thanks for joining me today. Thank you so much for having me what a total delight it was.
Tell us, uh, we’re going to have links in the show notes to where people can connect with you. But if you just want to give us maybe your website or the best way for people to read. Sure the best way to connect with me would be my website, which is MindiKcounts.com. That’s M I N D I K C O U N T s.com.
And there’s a whole bunch of links on there to videos and book my book as well. And some other ways to work with me. If you get excited about that. Wonderful. We’ll make sure to have links in the show notes over at brodiewelch.com. That’s Brodie with an “IE” and Welch. Mindi, thank you so much again for joining me.
This has been so much.
Thanks for listening today to check out the show notes, get on my email list or drop me a line heads of Brodiewelch.com. That’s Brodie with an “IE” and Welch with a “CH” I’d love to hear from you. If you learn something new or feel inspired to try something different in your life, I’d love for you to pay it forward.
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