One of the delights of being a five element acupuncturist is realising that every single thing we do, each action we take, each movement we make, each way we talk or smile, each reveals, to a perceptive observer and listener, the element under whose patronage we live our life. It is as though each of us is a walking, talking example of one element (with, of course, other elements which we call the "elements within" in more humble attendance).
In the past few days I have made another discovery about myself which adds a further diagnostic tool to help us distinguish between the different ways in which the elements manifest themselves. I have written before about how I see the elements shape our bodies and our movements. What I have now noticed adds a little more to this. I made this new observation after looking at how I was sitting during a bus ride here in London. I noticed that I seemed to be clasping my arms tightly to my body, almost as if in a defensive position. I then went on to observe myself whenever I found myself sitting quietly, and was surprised to find that I always tend to sit with my arms clasped around me, with the right arm over the left arm, and with the fingers of my right had held closely to my body, just below my left breast. Once I had noticed this posture, I observed myself more closely whenever I was sitting doing nothing. The moment my body returned to a position of rest, I found that the only comfortable position for my arms was the clasp-around-the-chest position I had noticed during my bus ride.
Wondering why this should be, I suddenly started to laugh. Of course, my arms were acting as Heart Protector, carefully surrounding my pericardium and in particular using the fingers of my right hand to close firmly up against where they would feel my heart beat, under my left breast. In effect, my arms were physically taking on the role of protecting my Heart, as anybody who is Inner Fire, as I am, must do to fulfil its prime function.
Once I had realised that this was my default position whenever I sit idly, I started to look more closely at the way the other elements sit, and of course used my good friend, Guy (Metal), as the obvious next example. He and I both noticed that he likes to sit with his hands away from his body, leaving the space Metal always likes to have around it, but with his fingers steepled in front of him. His forefinger forms a V-shape pointing forwards, and he clasps his thumbs together. In effect, this emphasizes the two digits, the thumb and forefinger, which are what I call Metal's fingers, along which the two Metal meridians run. The V-shape point can be seen symbolically, too, as Metal's ability to get to the very nub of a problem, to its very essence.
Guy and I only had time to discuss one of the remaining elements, Earth, which we had both observed likes to sit back very comfortably in its chair, with its hands clasped gently together in its lap. This creates a kind of a circle around the abdomen, a very Earth posture.
Interestingly, neither he nor I felt easy sitting in any way that differed from the ways we each preferred. I felt really uncomfortable trying to sit as relaxed as Earth likes to do with my hands in my lap, and could certainly never steeple my fingers as Guy habitually does. Nor did Guy feel at all happy clasping his arms around his chest as I like to do.
I haven't yet had an opportunity to observe Wood and Water as closely as the other elements, but will report back when I do. Perhaps some Wood or Water people can give me their own feedback on this. As you know, I always welcome input from others to round off my understanding of the different elements.
So if you can't decide on C, S, O or E, then I suggest you look at how your patient is holding their hands.