The Rites of Spring from Four Corners

The Vernal Equinox (in the Northern Hemisphere) heralds the advent of Spring & indicates that we have prevailed over another winter. This most invigorating of holidays vivifies our souls, imbuing us with the sprightly energy of the season. While one outlet for this energy might be the garage, we need not limit our activity of “Spring Cleaning” to dusty floors & squeaky bicycles. Rather the Spring Equinox presents the perfect opportunity to order aspects dearer to us even than our own homes: namely our selves.

To guide us in this project, we can employ a framework from the four natural elements, each of which will lead us to consider a particular aspect of ourselves. An approach from four cardinal directions will ensure a more complete inquiry than would be possible from any single perspective.

The element of Earth provides a foundation for this project. Earth, as the element of structure, bears an intimate affinity to the enterprise of Rolfing® Structural Integration. When I stand to hail the springtime sun, is my stance perpendicular to the horizon? Are my knees above my feet & my eyes above my ankles? Am I supported by a solid skeletal frame? Or am I totally knock-kneed, crooked, & askant, like a gear-shed after one too-many winters? The answer to these telluric inquiries will inform my campaign of “spring cleaning.”

Our consideration can continue with the question of fluidity. The Water element encourages us to consider our inborn capacity to adapt to our ever-changing environment. Water, when poured into a goblet, becomes the goblet—can I claim such protean capacity? Or do I conduct my affairs like a wooden effigy, hobbling around like a silly caricature of Captain Ahab? If my sinews are stiff & my joints creaky, my responses will be brittle and for me, the cultivation of Water qualities will serve the highest good.

Air, the third element, represents motion. Like the energetic activity of songbirds & spring breezes, our bodies contain an inherent impulse to movement. Nevertheless, causes & conditions at times conspire to stifle this native dynamism. Adhesions in the body’s fascia & connective tissue, or trauma in the nervous system, represent obstructions to the free flow of life-force through our energy channels & meridians. We experience such hindrances as pain, dullness, stiffness, limps, & lethargy. Often, all it requires is the judicious application of a (more or less) gentle elbow to resolve these blockages & coax the body back into its natural motion. Full & unrestricted respiration is a hallmark of Structural Integration, considered from the Air element.

Having progressed from structure, to function, we move now in the fourth element to a still more subtle consideration which nevertheless fuels the entire process. Through Fire, the element of joy, passion, & transformation, we encounter the spirit behind the entire enterprise; the flame to which our bodies are the candles. Earth provides our foundation, Water our resilience, Air our life-energy, & Fire imbues us with the spark of conscious human experience—the sound, the fury, the passionate intensity. In this way, Fire is the first & the last of elements. The fiery joie de vivre incites the process of “spring cleaning,” & the unmitigated expression of Fire is also its result.

Having considered ourselves from the four different perspectives that each of elements represents, we have identified & removed all impediments to our psychosomatic flourishing. With our completion of this spiraling traverse, we may suddenly intimate a further quality, which was there all along only we never noticed it before. This is the fifth element, or quintessence: Space. The negative space to which all lesser elements were positives, Space connects, divides, & contains all of them. We begin to experience the freedom, spaciousness, ease, & possibility that this element represents only when all others are in balance. We feel ourselves as empty vessels for the season to fill until we can finally say “my cup runneth over” with white sunlight & springtime breeze.


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