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Easy Ways to Work with the Five Elements

Easy Ways to Work with the Five Elements
Photo by Tobias Keller on Unsplash

If you’ve been exploring feng shui for a while, it’s likely that you’re at least somewhat familiar with the five elements. This is a Taoist concept that helps us make sense of our inner and outer environments, and it’s used in many different modalities, including qi gong, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and feng shui. Each of the five elements (earth, metal, water, wood, and fire) correspond to certain materials, as well as certain types of qi (life force energy). It’s almost as if each element has its own unique personality.

There are many different ways to apply the five elements in a feng shui context, and this is one of the subjects we cover in depth with our students. One simple way to work with the five elements is to notice which element embodies a type of energy you’d like to cultivate, and then find ways to bring that element into your home and daily life. For example, if you want to cultivate the fire element qualities of inspiration and passion, you can enhance your fire qi by wearing red, which embodies fire.

Read on to discover how the five elements can support you, and some of our favorite easy ways to bring each element’s energy into your life.

The Earth Element

Earth is supportive, stable, and nurturing. If you feel a bit ungrounded, or you’re in need of more nourishment and support, you may want to connect with the earth element.

How to Work with the Earth Element

Work with the center of your home. The center of the feng shui bagua, called the Tai qi, is connected to the earth element. If you’re not sure how to lay the bagua on your home, find the area that feels like the center of your space. To work with this area, you could do something as simple as giving it a good deep clean. You can also refresh this part of your home with a new rug or a new piece of art. As you make changes in this area, set the intention to be fortified, stabilized, and supported.

Add yellow to your life. The traditional color associated with the earth element in feng shui is yellow. You can decorate your home with the color yellow, put yellow flowers on your bedside table, or even wear yellow. By bringing yellow into your field of vision regularly, you will begin to impact your personal qi and shift how you feel.

The Metal Element

Metal is efficient, focused, and precise. If you’re having a hard time staying focused or completing projects, it may be time to work with metal.

How to Work with the Metal Element:

Be a helpful person. There is an area of the feng shui bagua, called Qian, that is connected to helpful people as well as the metal element. To work with this energy, you may want to consider how you could be a helpful person. How can you use your skills and resources to help others? Alternatively, is there something you could use help with? It can be challenging for many of us to ask for help, but by doing so, we are opening ourselves up to receive and also giving others the opportunity to share their gifts and energy with us.

Work with round shapes. If you're wanting to embrace more metal element qualities in your life, try bringing round shapes into your home, which represent the metal element. This could be a pillow or rug with a circular pattern, a round planter, or a spherical lamp. You can also wear clothing or jewelry that has round shapes or patterns.

The Water Element

The water element is intuitive, fluid, and reflective. It’s also related to your social network. If you’d like to tap into your intuition or enhance your connections with the people around you, try working with water qi.

How to Work with the Water Element:

Connect with your intuition. The water element is related to your intuition. If you've been drawn to an intuitive practice like feng shui, dowsing, or oracle cards, consider this an invitation to dive in and explore this side of yourself.

Clean your mirrors. Mirrors are used for many purposes in feng shui, including as an embodiment of the water element. Mirrors, like still lakes, provide reflective surfaces. It’s a good idea to keep your mirrors clean to ensure you are seeing a true reflection of yourself and your surroundings.

The Wood Element

The wood element represents growth, flexibility, and new beginnings. You may want to bring in more wood energy when you are feeling stuck and you want to create new growth in your life.

How to Work with The Wood Element

Bring in plants. In addition to being beautiful, houseplants are a great way to add more wood qi to your home. Be sure to choose a variety of plant that will be able to thrive in your space. If you’re just getting started with your indoor garden, click here to learn about some of our favorite feng shui plants.

Start something new. The wood element is connected to the New Beginnings area of the feng shui bagua, called Zhen in Chinese. One way to work with this energy and bring more wood qi into your life is to start something new. Is there a project you’ve been wanting to begin, or an idea you’ve been waiting to take action on? Tap into your inner wood qi and take the first step.

The Fire Element

Fire is connected to passion, inspiration, and expression. If you’d like to ignite more passion in your life, or if you’d like to invite more visibility and recognition, it could be a good time to work with the fire element.

How to Work with the Fire Element

Work with the color red. Red is the color of the fire element, and it is also a very powerful and auspicious color in feng shui. Bring red into your home or wear red to bring more fire energy into your life. Since red is such a strong color, you can always add it in small ways: instead of painting a whole room or wearing an all-red outfit, try a throw pillow or a necklace with a red stone to introduce this hue in a more subtle way.

Add lighting. Another way to bring more fire qi into your home is to add lighting. You can light a candle (or turn on a flameless candle), or get a new lamp for an area of your home that feels a bit dark. Also, check your existing light fixtures to see if any bulbs need to be replaced.

We hope these tips help you connect more deeply with the five elements in your life! If you’d like to learn more about the five elements, be sure to check out our podcast and subscribe to our mailing list for exclusive feng shui content.