Bears: Constitutionally Cooler & Damper

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nosce te ipsum - know thyself

One of the most incredible things about life is its ability to be endlessly creative. You who are reading this are one of a kind and so, of course, is each of your friends, your family, and everyone you know. The complexity within life, and each one of us, that allows for such individuality is something extraordinary, it is unlimited.

We set about categorising each other, therefore, at the peril of losing sight of this everyday wonder. Just as soon as we divide each other by age, race, nationality etc. we can lose the awareness of what matters most; namely that the great creativity of life is equally expressed in the individuality of each of our lives, that no one person is inherently better or worse than another, we are the same in being different.

So, why bring constitutions into the picture? It is to better understand, and work with, the nature that underlies that individuality. Throughout history, all cultures have come to a similar recognition that, despite the obvious evidence of our differences, there are still recurring themes that show how we tend to be relatively hotter or cooler and, at the same time, relatively dryer or damper than one another.

'Nosce te ipsum' know thyself. The value of this understanding is that it gives such useful insights, including into what kinds of foods, habits and, when needed, medicines can form the surest foundation for our most precious possession of all; our health...

The Bear Personality

There are several characteristics that perfectly demonstrate the distinct personality of the Bear:


One of the notable characteristics of the Bear constitution is that, somewhere in their complex personalities, there will be a marked quality of 'intensity'. This may simply show itself in the depth of their reactions and relationships, or it may manifest in the form of a chosen life-path, or it may reveal itself in something that they care about very deeply. It can be something negative too. The subject of the intensity may change from one chapter of their life to the next but, whatever it is, they are likely to be 'all in'.

Like a full moon on a cloudy night, sometimes hidden, sometimes bright, the quality of 'intensity' is always to be found somewhere in a Bear. Cooler constitutions do not have less energy than hotter ones, but the direction of their energy goes more inwardly than outwardly.

Most Bears realise that their natural intensity is not shared by everyone else and, increasingly as they age, many hide the strength of their feelings behind a seemingly cool exterior. Perhaps this is a protective mechanism, because our passions reveal our vulnerabilities and the world can be quick to pass judgement. In any case, the outwardly cool appearance that many Bears project is just the 'cover of their book', Bears nearly always have great inner warmth, just not always on display.

When you combine coolness with the quality of dampness which, like water, has the nature to want to get down into the depths of things and closely connect to them, you get the Bear. Cooler plus damper equals plenty of intensity. If you're a Bear, it's best to embrace it.


Loyalty is, no doubt, important to all people, it is certainly very important to Bears. Make friends with a Bear and you may have a friend for life. Bears are typically willing to do what it takes to earn trust and it means a great deal to them that others are trustworthy too. Bears are less likely to have a large social circle whereas it is quite natural for them to make particularly loyal bonds with just a few friends or family members.

The strength of loyalty is its potential to help a person make deep commitments and see them through. The downside of it is that Bears can be loyal to a fault because, if they become fixated on something, it can take a lot of trouble and strife before they can admit they've been stuck in the wrong groove and be ready to let go and start again. The word stubborn may apply.

This also manifests in the way that Bears can be most formidable opponents in any kind of disagreement and practically unmoveable when someone is trying to push them in a direction they don't want to go. It is not a good idea to try to make Bears do things against their will.

It can be very helpful for the Bear to recognise and understand their innate qualities of intensity and loyalty because, if they work out what it is that they really want in life, they have an excellent chance of achieving it. The old saying 'be careful what you wish for' is completely true for Bears. It may take a quick mind and a light heart to let go of all the things that are holding them back, but once they get clear on what they want, there can be no stopping them.

Cave & Forest

The combination of qualities within Bears creates an interesting and sometimes challenging mix and it can be seen that they must learn how to live in two worlds, one that could be called the 'cave' and the other the 'forest'.

The 'cave' can be represented by the home or bedroom, but it can also be the 'home' of the body. The cave is where the Bear can relax and find some peace. The cave can be a warm, dry, calm, comforting and comfortable place, or it can be a cold, dark, dank, solitary and miserable place! The difference usually has less to do with external factors and more to do with the state of the Bears' mind, how willing they are to be in their cave and what they do when they're in there...

Bears must understand their need for cave-time. Not to make it a place of punishment when they are too tired to deal with the world, but to think of it as a place of rest and relaxation where they don't have to be on or up and can still feel good and warm. From such a small shift in awareness, transformations have been seen to occur.

The forest is the world, it is the workplace, the social circle, the turning up and turning on. For all that they tend to have a rich internal existence, Bears are not in the least bit loners by nature, they like people and are frequently drawn to jobs or lifestyles where they can help others. The forest is where the Bear gets to talk, connect, make some noise, make some money.

Many Bears end up far preferring the forest and wanting to stay there, in which case they inevitably burn out. This is a world that they must come into, and then leave again, over and over. The path of health and happiness for a Bear is one where they learn to easily go between these two worlds, not to pick a side, not to get stuck, but to go with their natural cycle, back and forth, up and down.

Further reading on emotional health

If you are interested in reading further about the emotional health and healing of the Bear constitution, there is a link to quite a lot more on this subject at the bottom of this page under the section on health and medicine


Food Matters

Food is incredibly important to the health of all kinds of people and Bears are no exceptions to this. The kind of food that people prefer is another fascinating reflection of their constitution and it is noticeable that most Bears prefer foods that are denser and moister than lighter or dryer options.

There is nothing wrong with being true to your nature and, so long as the Bear is in good health, they should certainly follow their instincts and eat what they most enjoy. That said, it must be acknowledged that some Bear constitutions grow to develop problems in their health that are related to their diet:

Allergies & intolerances

If a Bear person has a history of eczema or asthma &/or if they show such classic signs as dark rings under the eyes or a characteristic tendency to a bloated belly after eating certain foods, then food allergy or intolerance may be a core issue. This is an important subject but one that is rife with misinformation and dodgy methods of diagnosis so, if it needs exploring further, read here

Balancing the sugars

Some constitutions can go without food for extended periods but not this one; if Bears go too long without eating they can get very out of sorts, withdrawn or irritable. This is because they are prone to, and must carefully avoid, hypoglycaemia, i.e. low blood sugars. The obvious way to avoid this is to not go too long without food but another good way to help prevent it is to have a good amount of protein in the morning e.g. things eggs, cheese, nuts or seeds.

Too much sugar is just as harmful as too little, and Bears are also prone to the metabolic syndrome, which shows itself in such signs such as; brain-fog and tiredness, raised blood pressure or cholesterol and gaining weight around the middle whilst finding it very hard to lose weight. This important subject is written up in detail here

Food pyramid for the metabolic syndrome


Bear Fitness & Exercise

For most people, their health and fitness are a gift for the 1st half of their lives and then, in the 2nd half, they have to start earning them.

It may or may not surprise you to learn that Bears are actually the least likely of the different constitutions to maintain regular exercise, the main reason they give for this is that they just find too boring!

If they are 'into it' Bears can sustain all kinds of exercise or sport but If there is nothing they are naturally drawn to, and they know they have to exercise, then they can do well with short bursts of high intensity training, i.e. be intense, go hard and get it over with. Or, they may just have to ask themselves, 'what kind of exercise would I find the most interesting or engaging?'

Mental fitness is no different, or less important, than physical fitness, and finding the best ways to keep our minds active and engaged clearly makes an enormous difference to our quality of life as we age.

Another good question can be "what have I been studying or learning about lately?" If our minds become 'set' in their thinking and manner of experiencing the world, the result is no different than if we were to stop moving or stretching our body; there is a stiffness, a rigidity, a hardness that develops.

People can keep vibrantly good mental health into great old age, but only if they maintain their mental fitness. For example, it is notable that Bears are the most likely of all the constitutions to have been good book readers, though many put the books aside when their lives became too busy. A good book is like a 'medicine for the mind' and a return to reading engaging, absorbing literature can have a transformative effect on the mental health of a Bear.

That's just one example, there is no one right way to exercise the mind any more than there is one right way to exercise the body but, if there is a conscious choice to stay mentally fit, then the means to remaining young and alive in spirit are as varied as the creativity of life itself.


Bear Rest & Relaxation

Along with diet and exercise, one of the greatest determinants of health and happiness is how well we rest, relax and sleep.

Many Bears have quite variable sleep needs. Times when they need much less sleep and times when they practically need to hibernate! Aside from the variability factor, Bears on average have less trouble than the other constitutions in getting to sleep easily and getting a good night's sleep. They also take their comfort seriously and are good at getting into well-relaxed states on a regular basis.

This said, if anxiety becomes a problem or if insomnia ever sets in, either condition can cause the Bear more harm than anyone, more quickly too. Bears really need their rest and relaxation.

Hopefully not, but if either of these ever become an issue, there are effective strategies to help anxiety discussed here and insomnia here


Bear Health & Medicine

Health really is our most valuable possession, but hardly anyone realises the truth of that until they've lost it... however, if you treat the cause and work with 'Nature', i.e. the innate self-healing intelligence, then what's lost can be found.

Recognising the patterns of our differences via the constitutional approach ties in with another way of seeing what can help, or obstruct, this self- healing intelligence. We have within us a 'healing cycle' that we constantly move through in the course of our daily lives however, when one part of that cycle is repeatedly blocked or out of balance, we become unable to self-correct what's gone wrong.

The subjects mentioned above; nutrition, fitness and rest, have touched on matters that involve 3 of the 4 stages of the healing cycle, the 4th is about 'cleansing'. This area also often needs some attention in a person who has become chronically unwell. Bears can be no exception to this and, even though they may have maintained a clean diet and environment, many show the classic signs of 'encumbrance' when first met.

If you think you might personally need to delve into this further, cleansing is discussed in more detail in an article called 'what is detoxification' found here. The interesting subject of the healing cycle is talked about more here

I don't want to describe the health problems that Bears are most prone to, it would make for a rather gloomy list and none of it may ever be personally relevant so, if there is something you are troubled by now, or want to know more about, see if it's discussed in the A-Z of health conditions found here

I do want to highlight some of the remedies from Nature that can be of particular help though. For example, a Bear who has become too 'cool' in their core can respond especially well to herbs such as Ginger, Turmeric and Cayenne. Bears who are prone to digestive disturbance can get much help from herbs such as Fennel, Chamomile, Cramp Bark and Lobelia. Likewise, the great nervine tonics, such as Withania, Ginseng & St John's wort have been seen to be of great benefit in times of need.

Those are just a very few examples, so long as it is understood that, at different times and with different problems, any herb may potentially be of help to any constitution, to see what else is particularly well-suited to Bears, there are further patterns shown in the chart on constitutional medicines found here.

Further Reading

If interested, there is another whole section on the emotional health and healing of the Bear constitution for further reading, but please note that, for these somewhat tricky and rather dark subjects, there are no easy solutions on offer so proceed with caution! The introduction to this section is found here

Echinacea angustifolia


~ Tigers: Hotter & Damper

~ Eagles: Hotter & Dryer

~ Elephant/Butterfly: Cooler & Dryer

~ Back to Constitutional Medicine Introduction

~ Working out your Constitution

~ Origins & Adaptations of Constitutional Medicine

~ Cycle of Healing

~ Free eBook on Constitutional Complexity

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd