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Self-Centred Or Earth-Centred?

by Vicki McKenna(more info)

listed in chinese oriental medicine, originally published in issue 286 - May 2023


All through the day
I me mine, I me mine, I me mine
All through the night
I me mine, I me mine, I me mine
       George Harrison

The Self-Centred Way

The current state of the world reveals war, the climate crisis, the threatened extinction of one million animals and plants, refugees desperately seeking safe asylum, extreme poverty with rising interest rates and massive hikes in food and fuel prices. Oh and let’s not forget Covid still making an appearance. Furthermore we see the huge growth of social platforms encouraging divisions between people and 24 hour news cycles streaming out bad news to instil fear in us all. Unsurprisingly and understandably many of us are filled with anxiety and apprehension as we worry about how these challenges will affect us personally. Feelings of extreme vulnerability can be evoked by these events, but our reactions can often be unhelpful and sometimes even paralysing when we become overly preoccupied with our worries and fears.


Image of a man that has taken root in the ground.

Image of a man that has taken root in the ground.

Photo Credit:  Orla from iStock 


We humans can be incredibly self-absorbed – we often tend to refer to situations and circumstances anxiously as “my” life, “my“ problems, “I me mine”. And the more we put our worries, our selves at the centre of our universe the more we find ourselves frozen with fear unable to adapt to the changes in our circumstances. This self centredness is, at root, a lack of confidence, a deep insecurity leading to an obsessive self-focus and a constant chewing over of ones problems. In Daoist Five Element theory all of this suggests an imbalance in our Earth Element.

This self-centred preoccupation with our fears, this imbalance in our Earth Element is of course nothing new. Since early man we humans have felt fundamentally insecure and have attempted to make our world a secure, safe place. The irony is that as we have tried to assuage the deep seated anxiety that comes with being alive; we have become overly dominating and controlling creating toxicity everywhere. We have polluted the planet, abused and decimated its wildlife, greedily overused resources and allowed poverty and war to run rampant. More recently we have become addicted to bolstering ourselves up on Facebook and Instagram; all of these behaviours are desperate attempts to make ourselves feel safer, stronger, more secure. Sadly all of this has resulted in making ourselves ultimately feel more anxious and insecure.

Fortunately there are many people and movements, ecological, social and political, attempting to change and reverse these trends, but essentially collective change can only come about if we each individually focus on cultivating a more Earth Centred, less self-centred way of living.

An Earth Centred Way

An Earth Centred Way is the Daoist way and entails letting go of our worries and fears by living a simple life, observing the principle  of  living in harmony with the Earth and its seasons. We need to acknowledge that life is full of change, accept our insecurity and choose to live in a way that will benefit ourselves and the Earth as a whole.

When we live simply we relax and send ripples out into the world – we are all one and our behaviour will always affect our environment. Furthermore to build true and substantial inner confidence we need to practise Daoist techniques to connect with our Earth element and so feel secure, grounded and experience inner peace. This then will all affect the world at large in every way.

In our daily lives we need to let go of striving and craving – live simply by being content with and appreciating what we have, accepting and adapting to our circumstances – no need to buy unnecessary stuff, no need to turn up the thermostat – simply put on another layer of clothing. Living simply also means saving our internal energy by resting after work, pacing ourselves and letting go of pushing ourselves. To live a centred life, to live simply, switch the TV and other devices off and get outside – enjoy the fresh air – avoid the hot air of the mass media. Live mindfully grounding oneself in the present moment and let go of fretting about the future. Eat simple but good quality meals made from scratch and avoid processed foods. Connect with others and care for others – humans, animals, plant life. Living simply also entails respecting and adapting to the seasons of the Earth.

In the winter the temperature drops and there is less light. It is a time of stillness and quiet and, like animals we need to hibernate by spending time indoors cultivating peace and tranquillity. In spring the cold Yin energy of winter is slowly starting to give way to the warm Yang energy of summer. We can enjoy the warmer weather, plant seeds, witness buds on trees – life begins to flourish everywhere. Summer is the most Yang of all the seasons. We can be outside most of the time and enjoy the warmth and light. By the time autumn comes around the weather is cooler and we need to ensure that we prevent the cold weather entering our bodies . Relaxed and open from the summer we need to ensure that the body adjusts to the changes in our environment to prevent colds and lung issues.

An Exercise to Cultivate Earth Centredness

When we feel anxious, insecure and stressed, breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and our heartbeat accelerates. Oxygen supply decreases and toxins build up in the blood stream. Prematurely we age and our immunity wanes. Invite precious Earth energies daily to help stay calm and grounded even when witnessing challenging events. The Earth stays deeply strong and centred no matter what is happening in nature – whatever the season or cataclysmic event, the Earth is stable at its core. Essentially we are the Earth and can, like Earth, let go of outer influences to connect with our inner strength and confidence.

Practise this exercise daily to cultivate Earth Energy

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart or in a chair with feet on the ground;
  2. Place your hands over your lower abdomen and take slow, relaxed breaths from here;
  3. Now imagine that your feet have energetic roots going deep into the rich, nurturing earth;
  4. Visualize the Earth’s energy flowing upward through your roots, your legs, and into your lower abdomen;
  5. Feel the energy nourishing and strengthening you;
  6. Thank the Earth for giving you life, for nurturing and nourishing you.

When it feels right , open your eyes and go about your day feeling the centred strength and stability of Mother Earth within you. Practise this exercise daily and live life in this centred, Daoist way knowing that you are affecting, positively not only your own health and wellbeing but that of the entire Earth.


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About Vicki McKenna

Vicki McKenna BA Lic Ac trained at The College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in Leamington Spa with Professor Worsley from 1981 gaining her Lic Ac. in 1984 and has been practising acupuncture in Scotland since then. Her book A Balanced Way Of Living; Practical and Holistic Strategies for Coping with Post Polio Syndrome is available from 


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