April 22, 2021—Earth Day [Posted out of sequence].
Humans are made of the four elements of earth, water, fire and air. We are a living embodiment of these elements. We cannot separate ourselves from them and still live. And yet we do separate ourselves. We seal ourselves away in an artificial world. Water comes from the tap. Fire from the cooking stove, air comes from the HVAC system, and earth? It is somewhere else entirely for much of our life. We don’t see that our body is a body of water. We don’t see that our bones and minerals are the earth element. Or that the fire element is our very digestive system and the warmth of our heart, and the air element is our very breath—one breath that is co-mingled with all that breathes. We don’t see that we are the sea turtle choking on plastic. We don’t see that we are the coral reef bleaching and dying because the body of our ocean is warming. We don’t even see that we are the vegetables and the soil growing in the backyard. We are all made of these same elements.
We urgently need to see ourselves in our elemental nature and yet we can’t be urgent. We exist as part of nature—we are nature—and nature has its own time—its own slow rhythm. Our most immediate task is to reconnect with the elements: to reclaim the very substance of our aliveness, our being; to remember ourselves as earth, sky, soil, mountain, river, ocean, sun, moon and stars; to enter into the world of nature, not as a tourist, but as an intimate part of nature. Because the fate of the elements is our fate. We are one body with one future. Let us go forward together, as one body.
Below is a guided meditation on the elements. This meditation uses the Elements Purification Breaths of Sufi mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan. Each breath is gentle and subtle. Notice each element has its own breath pattern. Practice with five breaths for each element. It is best done outside. I offer these healing meditations based on the elements every Wednesday from 11:00 to 11:30 am. These meditations are FREE. Please email me if you would like to receive the zoom links—email@example.com.
Earth—Archetype of Manifestation
The more one searches after truth, the more one becomes convinced…that man is a miniature of the universe externally, but perhaps the universe is a miniature compared with the true being of man. Within the four walls of the physical body there is land and sky and there is air…the more one can see the vision of what is within, the more one realizes that there is the whole cosmos. The sun is there, the moon is there, and planets are there, and even God Whom he worships, His seat is there. –-Hazrat Inayat Khan
The Earth breath is in and out through the nose.
Earth contains water and sky. It contains fire and air. Earth is the embodiment of life which is the coalescing of all the elements. Everything is interconnected. No element can exist separate from the other elements. Earth represents the gift of life. Think for a moment of the miracle of your life—here in this time, of all possible times. Unlike the heavenly realms, here humans can create and we have the possibility to become enlightened angels within these four walls of our physical being.
Water—Archetype of Generosity
All praise by Yours, my God, through Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure. –St. Francis of Assisi.
The water breath is in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Water is generosity. It is a constantly flowing beneficence whose only purpose is to nourish life. The continuous action of doing good for someone else. Water nurtures, purifies and clears. Water does not keep to itself but spreads out giving itself to all it meets. Generous giving. Giving itself away. The human body is a body of water with the capacity to nurture life, to give itself away in service to the whole. Feel the waters in your body—the rivers, streams and oceans—and the deep desire to offer yourself to life.
Fire –Archetype of Blazing Heart
When I open my heart, I become a burning flame. My invitation is to carry this light into the world and to see fire everywhere I look. –Christine Valters Paintner
(S)he will cover you with (H)er feathers and under (H)er wings, you will find refuge. –Psalm 91.4. Think of a mother hen protecting her chicks.
The fire breath is in through the mouth and out through the nose. Fire represents the brightness and fiery nature that opens the heart. In the hearth of the heart, let our lives be the kindling that sets the heart ablaze. The soul is forged in the heart and the heart is awakened by the longing of soul. The heart responds to suffering and it breaks open. We allow the suffering to touch us—the suffering that feels personal but isn’t, and the suffering in far-away places. We allow it to transform our hearts. Think of a person you know who is suffering now and open your heart to encompass her/him. Think of a place in the world where there is great suffering and open your heart to receive the suffering and the gifts of mercy and compassion. See how the heart is a place of refuge for self and world. When we allow the suffering to enter the heart, we give refuge to the one who suffers and this includes the One who suffers with us.
Air—Archetype of Space
In the air there is an unbroken emptiness which extends everywhere and admits any and every shape. Nothingness is the antidote to all possessiveness. In a sense we are the pilgrims of Nothingness. –John O’Donohue
The air breath is in and out through the mouth.
Air is the sanctity of space—the space in which all life arises, subsists and fades away. Without space, there could be no existence: no galaxies, no universe, no Earth body, no human life, no trees or mountains or animals—no life at all. Air is the sanctity of breath: the Breath Life, the Breath of God, the collective breathing of all beings co-mingling and sustaining life. of
Ether—Archetype of Possibility
Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, Bodhi Swaha. Gone, gone beyond existence and non-existence, gone to the land of pure happiness. –The Heart Sutra
The ether breath is in and out of nose and mouth together. Here is timelessness and utter stillness. No manifestation, no suffering, no generosity, no space. No beginning and no ending. The elements of life–Earth, Water, Fire, and Air are here in a state of harmony and perfection. They are completely undifferentiated. We are not talking here about the actual earth, water, etc. but the vibrational element. Ether represents the infinitude of possibilities lying dormant in stillness until the impulse to become has been activated by the Creator.