It’s easy for me to forget that I have been made up out of the elements of nature: earth, water, fire, air, space.
I forget that if I am to understand myself, I need to understand the elements that are forming me. My relationship to the natural world is much more primary that my relationships to people and all the stories/worlds I create here.
I’m intimately dependent on the five elements to continuously sustain me, both physically and emotionally. I usually forget this and so when I’m confused or physically unwell, I don’t look here for healing.
Earth provides nutrition and also a quality of stability. Surely any sense of self respect and confidence depends on the support of earth, the ground I stand on, the food I eat. Why wouldn’t I bow down in gratitude to the earth for this.
To dwell on my connection to the earth and the qualities I sense in this communion is to manifest these qualities in myself. It can’t be otherwise. I become what I reflect on. Why have I separated myself out so much that I have forgotten?
Water is the medium in which all life maintains and grows itself, a place of feeling and connection. I am utterly dependent on water, its fluidity, its ease and flow, its slow rolling rhythm. Without water I would become barren and dry. I need this juiciness. How strange that I should only look at water as something beautiful on the outside of me. Whatever is beautiful in water is my own nature. I need to recognise this, believe it and cultivate it. I need to let this recognition grow in me so I can heal.
When our connection to the elements in life, in the world around us is deeply recognized as our shaping on the inside, then our mental activity settles down. The ego depends on staying separate and to do this it is continually thinking and worrying.
You can try focusing on the qualities of the elements in the outside world, and allowing them to be your shaping on the inside. Commune with life as if you are seeing into your own nature. We are what we experience … we have just forgotten.
Three other elements sustain me. Fire, air and space.
Space is primary. Without space there is no freedom, no possibility of anything at all. When we look hungrily at the sky, this wide open space, or the sea spreading out to the horizon, we rarely perceive this wide open space as the inside of us, as a space that can accommodate the many things of our life. Some part of us is scared of the freedom of space and yet it is our closest friend.
Our nature is spacious. From this space new creative possibilities emerge. Our natural mind is like the sky. Know this the next time you gaze out into open space. And from the inner space of being, allow joy and freedom to bubble forth. We need to cultivate our experience of all the elemental qualities inside us so we can come back into balance and wellbeing. This is how the yogis practice.
Air is movement, flexibility and change. It is quick and light and dancing. When we stand in the wind which is tossing the leaves and swaying the branches, or rushing through an open door to enliven everything, we experience this delight inside us, this playful quickening. Is this why we love the wind? The wind is always changing and it can’t be pinned down. Isn’t life like this? It can be tamed to do good work. Sometimes we need more of the wind element, at other times less. We can moderate the balance of elements by how we engage in nature. Doesn’t it now seem obvious.
The last element is Fire, my favourite, the warmth and vitality of life – a sun or fire, or even a flickering entrancing candle flame which dazzles and inspires with its light. When you sit in front of an open fire, entranced by the flames, the energy and warmth, do you experience these qualities within yourself?
How strange to realise that the qualities/elements that shape us are the same qualities/elements that are found in the natural world. We are a unique manifestation of the five elements, endlessly transforming and expressing themselves.
We are interconnected with life as these elements, and this recognition is utterly freeing in the moment. The complicated realms of the thinking mind fade like a mirage, and our deeper relationship to life is revealed. To break free, just for a moment and experience ourselves in this way, is radical transformation.