The earth element is the last element of the order of the Pancha mahabhutus and is called Prithvi in Sanskrit. All the other 4 elements combine to form the dense element of earth. Ether provides space to exist, air provides movement, fire manifests in the form of energy, and water acts as a bridge between the gaseous states (ether, air, and fire) and solid-state (earth).
Thus, the earth element represents the solid state of all 4 elements.
The solid structure of our body such as bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, skin, nails, and hair are provided by this element.
It is a feminine element that nourishes and protects. This is one of the reasons why the earth is also referred to as Mother Earth.
Cool, stabilizing, dense, hard, rough, dull, heavy, dry, gross, clear are some qualities that can be related to it.
A unique quality of this element is that it is the only element that helps you smell. Your nose, which has also been built and supported by the earth element gives you the inherent potential to smell.
Let us go into detail to understand this element.
The symbolism of earth Element
The earth element manifests itself in the form of loyalty, faith, a sense of responsibility, and ethics in human beings. It symbolizes prosperity, fertility, stability, orderliness, groundedness, sustenance, creativity, physical abundance, nourishment, solidity, dependability, security, permanence, intuition, introspection, and wisdom.
Anything that you can smell, see, touch is being governed by this element.
The most physical form of earth that you can see is the earth that you live on.
Let us see other symbolic meanings of the earth element.
As per Ayurveda, the Kapha dosha is made up of water and earth elements. Even though the dominant element is water, the earth element provides the stability and structure to the tissues and bones for this element to make these organs work properly.
And with the help of the water element, it also insulates the body by forming a layer of fat.
Most characteristics of the Kapha dosha apply to this element as well.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
In TCM, the shift in seasons from summer to fall is the season for the earth element. This season is a damp season where we need to nourish the earth element and focus on the digestive system.
And the organs that it governs are the spleen and the stomach. In 1180, the Chinese physician Li Dong Yuan formulated the Earth School because he thought that most diseases in the body occur due to the disruptive state of the digestive system.
This thought can be related to the current scenario where it has been seen how the functioning of the gut helps build our immunity.
The Root chakra or the Muladhara is related to the earth element. This chakra is responsible for grounding, stability, vitality, a sense of security, and safety, which, interestingly, are also some characteristics of the earth element as well.
This chakra is also considered the dense out of all the 7 chakras, which, again, is quite similar to the earth element.
Functions of earth element in the body
It cannot be reiterated enough that the earth element gives all the other elements a solid structure to exist in the body. Just like how mother earth gives all the living beings a solid base to walk and live on, similarly, the muscles, tissues, bones, cells, hair, skin give the human body its structure.
The role of the earth element in forming a healthy fetus is also important. Samhanana, which means compactness of the body, is provided to the fetus by the earth element. The skeletal structure and the formation of other supporting structures, with the help of water, is all done by the earth element.
In short, the definition and form of each structure are formed by this element. So if you see an expecting mother craving earth-based foods, it means the fetus needs more earth elements to form a healthy baby.
Your sense of smell is also governed by the earth element. This is why we are able to smell air and water as they control the sense of smell is also governed by the earth element. The smell of earth after the rain is one of those unique smells that is relaxing to the mind.
So if you find an imbalance in your sense of smell, you know there is something wrong with your earth element.
Imbalances in the Earth Element
An imbalance in the earth element can be caused by either excess or deficiency of the element. The cause can be as simple as not being in touch with the physical earth.
Barefoot walking on the ground or simply walking with the purpose of connecting with not only your inner self but also to the earth seems like a thing of the past.
Other causes can be the food you are eating, improper functioning of the digestive system that can cause constipation or diarrhea, unhealthy lifestyle, or medical issues.
Below are some signs of excess and deficient earth element to look out for
Excess of earth element
- Dull and depressed
- Unmotivated and uninspired
- Poor digestion and difficult elimination
- Hopeless and cynical
- Overeating leading to excess weight
- Thicker skin, fingernails
- Losing interest in life
- stubborn, despondent
- inability to perceive the world clearly
Deficiency of earth element
- Unstable, ungrounded, insecure, restless
- Anxious, emaciated, flighty
- Cold, heavy
- Unable to manage stress, jittery, spacy
- Weakness of body structures, reduction in muscle mass and body fat
- Weak bones which often lead to osteoporosis, weak teeth
- Inability to face challenges or lack of depth
- Struggling to stay in relationships for long periods
- Excess weight gain
- Unreliable, undependable
Practices to connect with the earth element
The earth element enters into your body through the food you consume and leaves when you defecate. Hence one of the key factors in balancing the element is the food you consume.
Other than that, you can also perform yoga, meditation, nature walks, etc to stay connected to the earth element.
Have a look at a few practices to regain or reduce this element.
Practices to adopt in case of excess fire element
- Eat light, energizing foods, especially fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Pungent and bitter food such as black pepper, mustard, ginger, onion, garlic, turmeric, clove, leafy greens, eggplants should be included in your food preparation.
- Avoid overeating as it may lead to weight gain.
- Drink room-temperature or warm water however, do not overdo it as it may diminish the digestive fire.
- Practice more energizing cardiovascular exercise or yoga routine, to improve your blood circulation.
- Twisting yoga poses will help improve your digestion. Padma Sadhana is a great practice for energized grounding.
- Try something new and exciting
- Tap into your creative side and try activities like journaling, painting, or dancing.
- Practice Surya Mudra as it will increase the fire element in the body which will help in digestion and counter the cold and heavy feelings. It can be performed by placing the tip of your ring finger at the base of the thumb and gently pressing the back of the finger with the thumb.
Practices to adopt in case of deficient fire element
- Eat earthy foods, such as grains, nuts, and root vegetables, and include sweet and sour tastes in your meals to make you feel grounded.
- Naturally sweet foods include rice, basil, cashews, dates, milk, bananas, melon, beetroot, sweet potato, cardamom, and cinnamon
- Sour foods include grapefruit, lemon, lime, pickles, tomatoes, bread, vinegar, and garlic will also benefit in increasing the earth element.
- Stabilizing yoga poses like Paschimottanasana, or pranayam like Kapalabhati will stimulate digestion, elimination, and detoxification
- Practice mindfulness in your daily tasks
- If you feel scattered, start making a checklist of the things you need to do. This will get your brain organized and make you feel responsible.
- Spend some quiet time in nature. Walking barefoot in your garden is one of the best ways to get in touch with the earth.
- Perform meditation or yoga asanas while staying close to the earth as you will be able to release your negative energy to the earth.
- The Prithvi Mudra (join the tips of thumb and ring finger) is beneficial in increasing the earth element. The mudras should be practiced for 15 minutes 3 times a day for 10 days.
- While doing pranayama or meditation, the Bhu mudra can be practiced, which is one of the most beneficial and closest ways to connect to the earth element. Join the tips of the ring and little finger to the tip of the thumb. The index and middle finger are straight and relaxed. Place the tip of these fingers on the ground.
You cannot imagine a world without trees, soil, mountains, flowers, and grass. Nor can you imagine looking at yourself in any other form. The earth element is important for the formation of the fetus and till the time of death, it plays an important role.
You need the earth element to sustain your body as well as your mental well-being. So the next time you are feeling heavy, insecure, scattered, cold, you know which element needs to be worked on.