Sunday, May 26, 2019

20. The elements' different relationships to other people

It is good to use any opportunity we have when there may be several people of a
particular element together to ask them whether they agree or not with some of the characteristics we have come to associate with that element.  This is a good way to reinforce our understanding of an element.  It is also another way of avoiding one of the pitfalls which face five element acupuncturists, and that is of finding it all too easy to start thinking of the elements in terms of rigidly fixed stereotypes (“All Metal people are….), rather than continuing constantly to test our assumptions so as to ensure that they do indeed still hold good.  Since we are composed of all the elements in different combinations and with different levels of importance to us, the unique interactions with each of the elements within us will vary and therefore colour the dominant element in different ways.  Nevertheless, as we know, there are qualities which people of one element have in common, and it is useful to gain a good idea of these qualities as a way of helping us navigate through what can be regarded as being the often dense elemental undergrowth.

Some time ago I had the opportunity to ask several practitioners who were all of the Wood element what was important to them in terms of their interactions with others.  After some discussion amongst themselves they all agreed that what they always wanted was to “engage” with people. Interestingly, two of the definitions given in the dictionary for the word are “to interlock” and “to bring troops into battle”.  Engagement is making some kind of direct contact with another person, and also implies some kind of physical contact, like boxers engaging in a fight.  It represents to me quite the reverse of somebody “walking on by”, which is more the action I associate with the Metal element’s desire to avoid just the kind of close encounter which the word “to engage” seems to describe.  In their description of what they feel most comfortable with, this group of Wood people gave proof of their element’s enjoyment of face-to-face encounters.  They are at ease with meetings with other people which contain some quality of a contest.  Again, we can contrast this with another element, Fire’s encounters, which lack this sense of competitiveness.

What Fire wants of its interactions with others is instead not a contest, but to set up relationships, gifts which the Heart, buried within this element, wants to offer all it encounters.  The challenges which Wood offers those it meets become in Fire’s hands offerings it hopes to give others, ultimately of course the gift of love.  The warm smile with which Fire greets everybody is in itself such an offering, and if this is not responded to warmly in return it will be viewed as a rebuff, a rejection of this gift.  Often we will see Fire people persist again and again with their offerings of smiles and laughter in an attempt to draw some reaction of warmth from the other person.  Wood, in the same position of being denied the engagement it looks for from another person, will simply metaphorically shrug its shoulders and move on, something Fire will find difficult to do, as it will judge the lack of response to its approaches to be a reproach to itself and will therefore try even harder to extract a response.

It is not a response of any kind which Metal wishes for.  Far from this.  It will view all encounters with other people as a test of its judgement.  They are still challenges, as in some respects all meetings with other people are, because they demand responses from each person’s elements, and in particular responses with which a guardian element feels at ease.  Metal’s challenge lies in the area of how accurately it assesses the value of any encounter.  This assessment will also consist in evaluating its own reactions, for all that Metal does includes a high level of self-evaluation, its task being to weigh up all things, itself included, on the scales of some value they assign to them. 

Metal judges itself as harshly, if not more harshly, than others.  And to judge you have to stand back and observe as impartially as you can.  So there is nothing here of the close involvement of one person with another that Fire strives for, or the challenging encounters Wood enjoys.  Instead, there is always a space around Metal which it builds for itself so that it can give itself some distance from which it hopes to view things in as detached a way as possible.  Of course, the degree of detachment and the amount of space depends upon the level of balance within a Metal person.  The more unbalanced the Metal element is, the less it can stand back and observe as impartially as it should, and the more its judgement will then be affected.

And what about Earth and Water, then? There is some similarity between what these two elements want to experience in their encounters with other people, and in each case they express more of a need than we have seen with the other three elements.  Both of these elements enjoy being in the midst of a group, Earth liking to be at its centre with others around it, and Water melding more into the group, each Water person like a drop of water absorbed into the great oceans of life.  Earth will demand more individual attention, whereas Water is most comfortable with safety in numbers.

This picture of Earth surrounded by other people, preferably at their centre, metaphorically echoes the original five element diagram in which the other four elements circle around Earth in their midst.  Water likes to float as one with the rest of the world, which gives it a different quality from that of Earth.  It helps us understand that each will want different things from their relationships with the people around them.

With Earth the most important thing is that those surrounding it face towards it so that they can take careful note of what it wishes to say.  It is not enough, as it is with Water, for it to disappear into the group, for then its words will not be heard and understood as they should be, an understanding which is a necessary part of its need to process its own thoughts properly.  Processing is, after all, one of Earth’s most important functions.  It takes in, digests and then processes all that comes to it, both physically in the shape of food and mentally in the shape of thoughts.  It then has to pass on what it has processed as physical food worked on by the stomach, and as mental food in terms of thoughts and words worked on by its mind, which it then invites others to hear.

I have always found it interesting to note the somewhat confusing messages Water seems always to be transmitting.  On the one hand it has this need in some way to be swallowed up in the whole, to merge itself with those around it, and on the other, it has the quite contrasting, but less overtly obvious need to rise above the masses around it, and thus to rise to the top.  It is known to be the element of ambition and will-power, and just as water in nature exerts by far the strongest force when it is unleashed in storms and tsunamis, so a Water person will tend to achieve whatever it sets its mind to, often pushing aside those who stand in its way, as storm waters submerge all in their path.  Its relationship to others can therefore often seem somewhat ambiguous.  Appearing at ease in the company of others, it can then surprise them by pushing them aside, determinedly and often unobtrusively, in its fight to get to the top.  A Water person might well be the one in an office who, perhaps to others’ surprise, is offered the promotion these others had wanted and expected to be theirs.

And yet, despite this focused struggle to succeed, with little concern for how this affects others and often at their expense, it constantly seeks reassurance from those around it, to still the fears it always has, fear being its dominant emotion.   


Sunday, May 19, 2019

19. The elements and their emotions

I have written about the elements in each of my books.  The different observations made in each come from different periods of my life and are therefore based on different levels of this understanding as it deepens year on year.  Inevitably there will be a considerable overlap between what I write here and what I have written elsewhere, but also, inevitably, a different emphasis which my increased understanding gives me. 

As practitioners we each bring into the practice room our own perceptions of how the elements manifest, insights which we have gained from however many years of practice we had had.  Each of us will also have a particular affinity with one or other element, not necessarily, as some people assume, always our own.  Our lives may, for example, have been affected by people of one element, whose influence then colours our perception of that particular element for all time.  We should use the insights this gives us to help us when we encounter that particular element in our patients.   It is also always significant which elements members of our family represent.  And how we select our friends, as well as telling us a lot about ourselves and the needs we are satisfying by these selections, can also turn into a further lesson in the different elements and their interactions with one another upon which we can draw for our practice.

We make all sorts of assumptions about other people, since we usually see them from our own perspective.  It requires great insight and humility to try to step out from under the shadows each of us cast around ourselves and try to move into the sphere of another person.  Unfortunately we often delude ourselves that we understand another’s viewpoint whereas we are simply using our own viewpoint from which to judge theirs.  We must learn never to assume that we know anything about anybody else until we have proof from them that they are as we think they are.  This is the secret of being a good therapist, and also, of course, of being a good parent, partner or friend.  

It is the elements with which we have no particular affinity which can cause us the most trouble, and these we have to work hard at understanding if we are not to let this handicap our work.  We have to learn ways of bridging the gulf this places between ourselves and people of this element, for bridge it in some way we must.  This is where the hardest work for us lies, because we have to try and shed as much of our emotional clothing as we can, and then attempt to put on that of the other elements.  Experience obviously helps us here, because each time we encounter another element we add a little something to our understanding, like another little piece of cloth to this element’s coat which we try to put on, so that it begins to fit us a little better and we feel a little bit more at ease in wearing it.  It is worth thinking in these terms, as we add each experience of another element to our stock, because the aim is to start experiencing an element from the inside, rather than looking at it from the outside, as though we are looking at animals in the zoo.

Of course, since we are made of all the elements, there is always a part of us which resonates with each element we encounter, even though we may not be aware of it or pay it much attention.  The work we have to do here is to track this part down in ourselves and observe each element in action in us as a way of understanding it more from within ourselves.  We must take every opportunity to study them in others and then try to see how far our understanding of them resonates with something inside ourselves.  The easiest way to do this is to think of times in our life when we have experienced the emotions of another element.

Here we immediately encounter a problem, for the words with which we label an emotion, which we know in five element terms as anger, joy, sympathy, grief and fear, are so much more limited than the wide range of emotional attributes they are intended to convey.  The whole spectrum of human emotions, with all their variety and depth, has to be contained within the five simple words we give to these five emotional groupings, and this gives each a far wider and deeper meaning than the words as we use them every day.  In addition, they may well have taken on meanings in common speech which can be very narrow, or have been loaded with all kinds of connotations which may not be helpful in an acupuncture context.

If we look at these everyday descriptions of the five emotions, two, those of joy and sympathy, appear to evoke positive responses within us, one, anger, tends to evoke a negative response and two, fear and grief, evoke more puzzling responses.  Joy and sympathy appear to describe attributes we would all like to be able to express.  We may well think that these are expressions of positive aspects of human behaviour, the one that of being a vehicle for happiness, the other that of showing an ability to support our fellow human beings.  Anger, on the other hand, has a bad press, more often than not being regarded as something reprehensible, an emotion to which we should not allow free rein within ourselves, with connotations of something out of control.  Grief comes out more on the positive side, as being an appropriate expression of loss, if there has been loss, but can develop negative overtones if it persists beyond the point at which others think we should have come to terms with our loss or even when there is no feeling of loss at all, where some expression would be considered only natural.

Fear, too, appears to look both ways, its positive side appearing when it is an appropriate response to danger, its negative side when it persists even when the person experiencing it is not exposed to risk.  The common denominator in the last two cases, those of grief and fear, is that they appear to have a more clearly perceptible appropriate and inappropriate aspect to them which are fairly evenly balanced so that neither has attained the pariah status of anger, which appears to lean too heavily towards the inappropriate, nor the apparently favoured positions of joy and sympathy. 

All these perceptions are misleading in acupuncture terms, and have to be revised if we are to view the five emotional categories in their proper contexts.  Each emotional category has to be seen in neutral terms so that we do not load it with any preconceptions such as those I have mentioned.   Joy and sympathy can therefore be understood to be just as much expressions of inappropriate as appropriate emotions depending upon the context, and we must not shy away from seeing their negative overtones nor from seeing the correspondingly positive overtones of anger.  All emotions have to be viewed as ranging over the widest gamut of human expression, from the most unbalanced to the most balanced.  Thus to express joy where joy is inappropriate is just as much an expression of imbalance as to express anger or fear where there is no occasion for either.  To forget this is to distort our perception of balance or imbalance and thus our interpretation of the aspect of a patient which may be calling out for treatment.  It is unfortunately an understandable human reaction for a practitioner to respond to a patient’s smile more positively than to a patient’s frown, though both may be evidence of imbalance.

When thinking about the different emotions the elements display, we also need to understand that since each of us is composed of a unique combination of all the five elements, and each element expresses every one of the five emotions, there are in effect 25 possible expressions of the different emotions.  The five principal categories which tradition associates with a particular element, which are joy for Fire, sympathy for Earth, grief for Metal, fear for Water and anger for Wood, are therefore modified when it is not a Fire person expressing joy or a Water person expressing fear.  When a Metal person expresses joy or fear, those expressions of joy or fear will be shaded by grief, Metal’s dominant emotion, and therefore will express themselves in a different way from a Wood person expressing joy or fear, or a Fire or Water person expressing joy or fear.

It is therefore not simply a matter of observing joy or fear expressed to their fullest in Fire or Water people, but of having experience of observing these emotions in people who are not Fire or Water.  We have to begin to differentiate the type of joy or fear being shown, however much this may be buried beneath the dominant emotion of another element.  Fire or Water will show these two emotions in their purest form, since they pour out straight from the organs controlled by these two elements, whereas joy shown by an Earth person or fear shown by a Metal person will be modified by the patina of sympathy or thoughtfulness Earth throws over all it does and the patina of grief which Metal shows in all it does.  In other words they will show an Earth- or Metal-type joy or fear, which will be quite different from joy or fear expressed in pure form by Fire or Water.

In trying to gain a foothold in the tricky world of interpreting the emotional signatures of an element, we therefore have to look carefully at all the different possible nuances of emotional expression.  We have to bring to this all the knowledge of the elements we have accumulated so far to help point us in one of the five directions.  We can do this in retrospect, as it were, by looking carefully at a person whose element we are sure of, and observing how they express the emotions of the other four elements, not just their own.  How, for example, does a Metal person express their anger or their sympathy, or a Wood person their grief or their fear?  Such an exercise is a very useful way of expanding our library of pointers to the different elements.



Sunday, May 12, 2019

18. Diagnostic pointers to the different elements: Part 2: Earth, Metal and Water

I have said that Earth wants to involve other people.  We must always think of this element as needing to be at the centre of things, of drawing things, particularly people, towards it, its favourite position being that of being surrounded by others.  Earth’s eyes present us with an appeal, they ask us for something, they beseech to be looked after in some way.  Translated into the needs of one of its officials, the Stomach, we see that all Earth people demand to be fed at all levels, and only when they have been given the physical or emotional food they want can they turn their attention to feeding others.  At the physical level it is when Earth has opened its mouth to guide food into it that it has enough energy to feed others.  Apart from Earth’s appealing eyes, the mouth is therefore where this element imprints itself most strongly upon the face.  A very good example of this is what I call the Marilyn Monroe pout, with the lips slightly open, a mouth demanding to be fed, almost like a baby bird’s. Something of the neediness which lies behind this look is there, too, in Princess Diana’s appealing expression during her famous TV interview.  Earth’s eyes and mouth together therefore demand something of the people Earth comes into contact with. 

Again it is worth trying to mimic Marilyn Monroe’s mouth.  If I do this, I feel as though my face is saying, “gimme, gimme, please”, a kind of pleading to be looked after.  Obviously Marilyn Monroe exaggerated this trademark expression of hers, for this was where her charm and her marketability lay, so it is emphasized to a greater extent than would occur in a more everyday world, rather than that of a film-star’s, but if properly observed on our part, this will lead us surprisingly unerringly to a five element diagnosis.

When we move on to Metal, the facial movements of eye and mouth grow much calmer and are stilled.  Metal stands back, observes and judges.  Its eyes and mouth demand nothing of us;  they are not primarily concerned with trying to set up a relationship with us.  The eyes do not appeal, but remain detached, requiring space from which to watch the world and weigh up how it judges it.  Our eyes are therefore not drawn to Metal’s mouth, as we might be with Wood or Earth, for it is not asking anything of us.  Instead we focus strongly on the eyes, the most observant of all the elements’ eyes. They observe, but they also have an added quality which is as though in looking at us they are at the same time looking past us, or perhaps, more accurately, looking beyond us.  They echo Metal’s emotion, grief, a longing for what it has not been given, for what it has not achieved or failed to achieve, as though in that look there lies buried all Metal’s longing for those aspects of life towards which it tries to reach out, but which, sadly, often elude it.  Being the element most acquainted with the transitory nature of things, Metal has the most serious eyes of all.

With Water we move from the comparative stillness of Metal’s face to a more mobile expression, as Water’s face reflects all the anxious messages this element sends out in its quest to survive.  It wants to reassure itself that it is safe, that it will survive the harshness of winter come what may. Its eyes have none of the stillness of Metal’s eyes or the forcefulness behind Wood’s gaze.  Instead they seem to flicker and dart around, as though constantly on the move, ready to perceive danger and avoid it.  When we are unsure of what is going on, we will all tend to look nervously around.  This is Water’s fall-back position, and the anxious look which their eyes often take on can express itself in the different ways Water has learnt to protect itself.  One look is the rather unsettled and unsettling one akin to that of a rather frightened animal, with the eyes darting from side to side.  The converse can also be true of Water.  It can take on a very fixed stare, but not the challenging, direct look with which Wood may look at us, but a more rigid gaze, as if the face has become a frozen mask.  If we draw in our breath as though in fear and hold ourselves still for a few moments, we can feel our whole body, including our face, becoming rigid, until we let our breath out and relax.  This is how I imagine Water must react whenever it feels trapped in what is to it a frightening situation.  And Water will find frightening some situations which other elements allow to pass harmlessly by.

It is the nature of each element to have an exaggerated relationship with the emotional sphere which is its home ground.  For Water, here, it is any situation which might cause it anxiety or fear, for Earth any situation in which it feels it has lost its comforting position at the centre of things, for Metal any situation in which it it not given the space or time to detach itself and observe from afar, and finally for Fire, any situation in which its desire to relate warmly to other is threatened.  It is one of the ironies of life that what causes distress to one element, as does uncertainty here for the Water element, may instead be stimulating for another.  Fire, for example, might respond enthusiastically to some uncertain situations, enjoying the freedom to explore them which they present.  Thus each element has specific challenges and specific fears which another element will be indifferent to.  This, of course, is what makes for the rich diversity of human interactions.

It therefore helps us in our efforts to diagnose our patients’ elements to note how different parts of the face are emphasized for different elements.  If we find that our eyes appear to be drawn to the mouth, this may be one way of perceiving Earth. The lips of a Wood mouth may remain firmly, if not tightly, closed until they open to talk. And it is to the eyes rather than the mouths of Fire, Metal and Water that we appear to look more closely, Fire’s eyes because they are trying to draw us into a relationship with them, Metal’s eyes because they seem to be looking beyond us and we wonder what they see, and Water’s eyes because they can constantly dart around as though startled. 

If all else fails, therefore, and we are not at all sure which element our patient is, then we should see whether the rather basic signposts I have listed above help us in our diagnosis.  I have found them to be a remarkably accurate way of supplementing what my senses are unable to tell me.  Each practitioner will of course add their own pointers to this list.  Maybe they will notice a characteristic way of walking, talking, holding a hand out for pulses to be taken or settling on the treatment couch.  Since everything we do is the work of the elements within us, every part of body and soul will be showing characteristic pointers to our guardian element.  We just need to be patient enough and give ourselves the time needed to develop our own individual stock of these diagnostic pointers.



Saturday, May 4, 2019

17. Diagnostic pointers to the different elements: Part 1: Wood and Fire

When I first started my studies, I think I was very optimistic about how easily I would perceive the sensory signatures which we learnt were the main pointers to diagnosing the elements.  I, imagined that by the end of our three-year course I would be well on the way to assessing these accurately.  I was to find, however, that this was far from the case, so far, indeed, that it was only after quite a few years of practice that I at long last began to understand what Wood’s rancid smell was, or honed my  assessment of Earth’s colour.  And just when I thought I had “got” one manifestation, I would find all my previous learning confounded by discovering that my patient’s rather bright red face was nothing at all to do with Fire, but was either Wood or Earth out of balance.  In the case of Wood, I eventually worked out that it was its imbalance which was throwing its child, Fire, out of balance and creating the red colour, and in the case of Earth, the red was coming from problems handed down to it by its mother.  Fire, I have found, never imprints a constant high red colour on those of its element.  Its reddish tinges come and go, as it flickers, but they never remain a steady imprint.

Now that I have recognised for myself how difficult it is accurately to perceive the elements’ sensory signals, I realise how important it is for those new to five element acupuncture not to rely too heavily on sensory impressions which may well be leading them astray.  Instead, I try to emphasize all the many other ways the elements reveal themselves, and share with them the observations I have accumulated over the years to help fill out what I lack in sensory awareness.  For example, I have now developed for myself a list of the small variations in facial expression which help me pinpoint an element more clearly.  I give these below as an aide for others.

I have become increasingly aware of the importance of the face as a whole in helping us diagnose the significance of different elements.  It is the part of the body upon which all the elements with their numerous meridians trace their passage, and it therefore has the greatest concentration of elemental influences of any part of the body.  The head, of course, also houses that important part of us, our brain, which controls all our actions and all our thoughts. This small segment of the body therefore shows most obviously about how the different elements shape us than any other part.

It is likely that it will be the eyes, the face’s most significant moving feature, which we look at first, since it through eye-contact that we usually greet each other.  And it is through our eyes that we allow ourselves to reveal who we really are, recognized by us when we call them the windows of the soul.  They will show the nature of the contact we wish to make with the world outside us.  For five element acupuncturists it is therefore important to learn to differentiate the ways in which the different elements look at us.  Conversely, the first moment when we, as practitioners, look at our patient becomes very important, because it will also reveal who we are to our patients.  The expressions on our faces will help define the nature of the future relationship between us, and particularly how much empathy and understanding the patient feels we show them, and how far they feel they can trust us.  The glances we exchange can then be seen as the first step both in a five element diagnosis and in setting up a good patient-practitioner relationship.   

The nature of the different needs of each element will express itself in the way our patients look at us and what their look appears to be demanding of us.  Over the years I have made many observations about the different forms of eye-contact the elements make. Each element sends out different signals when it looks at another person, and the very marked differences from element to element are useful aids in helping with our diagnosis.  We will also see that with some elements it is not only the eyes to which we seem to be paying the most attention, but other parts of the face may be emphasized as well, such as the mouth or the jaw.

It is good to remind ourselves here of what each element wants from its contacts with others.  There are many ways of defining these differences, but in very general terms I see Wood as wanting to shape things, Fire as wanting to share things, Earth as wanting to involve others, Metal as wanting to observe and Water as wanting to make sure.

If we take the Wood element first, we can see that its need to shape things represents an attempt to give everything a structure.  It is as though it tries to enclose things within some kind of a box, a container, and its way of talking reflects this.  I have many times described Wood’s speech as telling, informing us of something rather than communicating.  Telling can be seen as an attempt to impose a fixed point of view upon the person or persons being talked to, or, more pertinently, being talked at.  It is another way of describing speech which boxes words in, giving them a fixed structure.  It does not represent a discussion about what that view might be, but is a firm conclusion, an emphatic statement that “this is so”.  At some level it brooks no disagreement, with little or no attempt by the speaker to remain open to argument.  The succinct phrase “Brexit means Brexit”, declared by Britain’s current Prime Minister, Theresa May, I think definitely a Wood person, is a famous illustration of this level of rigid thinking.  This is very much Wood’s way.  Speech, emerging as it does from deep within us, from our soul if you like, must inevitably colour the way in which these windows of our soul, our eyes, look out at us.  Wood’s eyes will be mirroring the firmness of speech, looking very directly at us, as though trying to convince us by the fixedness of their expression that we should accept the world just as it sees it.  Indeed, Wood’s eyes may look so piercingly at us that we may be inclined to look away.  They have a direct, often challenging look as though demanding a response from us.  Later, we will contrast this with Water’s so different look, which tells us quite the reverse, for it constantly asks a question, often a fearful one, its eyes, more uneasy than Wood’s, fixed anxiously upon us or darting here and there.

Wood also very clearly shapes other parts of the face, lending firm outlines to areas like the jaw and the neck and tightness to the mouth.  To help us with a diagnosis, I have found that it is always good to try and replicate an element’s particular expression or movement.  So here, with Wood, we should try to tighten our own jaw and neck muscles, and feel how our mouth starts to be pulled down out of shape.  Such tightness is not natural to me, and if I do this it makes me feel very odd, as if at any moment I might burst out with anger.  “Goodness,” I think to myself, “Is this how Wood often feels?  And, if so, how much pent-up emotion there must be which is forcing the facial muscles to adopt such a rigid mask.”

Fire’s eyes, on the other hand, are not trying to impose a view of the world upon those it looks at.  Instead, they try to engage in a two-way process;  in effect with each person looked at they are attempting to set up a relationship, an offering to the other person.  This is the need behind Fire’s frequent attempts to break into a smile, for smiling at somebody is one of the simplest ways of drawing a person towards you.  The eyes will make very direct contact, as Fire tries to assess whether the person looked at is, put very crudely, friend or foe.  If friend, and it feels safe with them (remember the Heart Protector forms part of Fire and is there to guard the Heart), it will very quickly allow its mouth to break into an easy smile.  If foe, then Fire’s eyes will become more wary and anxious as it tries to work out why the warmth it is offering is being rejected, and even if it feels it has to smile, this will only be a hesitant and tentative shadow of its normally warm smile.  And rejection, for Fire, is the worst thing for the Heart buried in its midst to bear.
With Wood, we saw that the lips may clamp shut, causing the jaw and neck muscles to tighten.  Here with Fire, something like the opposite will happen.  If Fire feels safe enough to smile warmly at somebody, its mouth will relax and the lips will curl up at the side.  At the same time, the smiling eyes will form quite clear creases at the side.  These smile lines are one of the most distinctive features of Fire’s face, and will persist long after the need for smiling has passed.  I have checked this out on myself and then on many other Fire faces.  From myself I know that I so enjoy the sensation of being able to smile at somebody, and the glow and warmth this gives to my Heart, that I want this to continue as long as possible.  It is as though I allow myself to go on smiling, long after the need for the smile has passed, because it makes me feel so good.  Having observed this in all Fire people to a greater or lesser extent, and incidentally also having decided that I am rather an extreme example because of my rather selfish enjoyment in smiling, it has become, for me, one of the most reliable indicators to help me diagnose the Fire element.  All elements smile when they are happy, or want to pretend they are happy, but only in Fire do the smile lines around the eyes stay in place long after the smile has faded.   I love warming my own Heart up by smiling, often doing this when I am on my own as my own personal comfort blanket.
In my next blog I will look at Earth, Metal and Water.