Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of presenting a drum circle to a group of ladies at a women’s retreat that I have presented at twice a year for the past three years. The first three events were held on the beach around a fire pit, then last year they moved this retreat to another facility and we now do these drum circles indoors. The intent around my particular segment of their retreat is conjuring up the fire from within – hence the fire pit on the beach. Now that we do this indoors (which wonderfully omits lugging drums through the sand, cold hands and soggy, beach-air drums) the retreat leader takes the women through some exercises to help them tap into the element of fire without any flames present. For many women (and men) this can be a challenge. Here in the West we have become so disconnected from our bodies, nature and our innate connection to the elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire. This disconnect leads to a lack of harmony, wholeness and can even lead to illness.
The German physician Max Gerson said “Stay close to nature and its eternal laws will protect you.” This is such a profound statement on so many levels. Although this declaration refers to diet, it really goes deeper than just food and can be applied to all aspects of life. When we are aligned with the four basic elements of nature and seek to balance these elements within ourselves we will step onto a path of blissfully basking in a state of balance and wellness. It’s quite simple really; yet simplicity does not always equate to ease. When we have been out of touch with the natural world for extended periods of time we tend to develop habits and patterns that are familiar, perhaps even comfortable, yet incongruent with nature.
We can break down each element and see its direct connection to an aspect of our life. This helps us to reveal where there may be an imbalance as well as suggest a solution. On a very basic level, we can look at this esoteric poetic statement to begin to associate the four cardinal elements with our being:
Air My Breath
Water My Blood
Earth My Body
Fire My Spirit
If you’re into drumming, chanting or spiritual endeavors, this is a great chant to help align with the elements to create balance. A more linear approach that is also advantageous is to also look at the four aspects or “bodies” of the human being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and see their correlation to the elements.
Earth/The Physical Body – there is an obvious connection between the earth and our physical body…at least it’s obvious to me. There is no denying the physical effect the earth realm has on our bodies. Our moon affects the tides and the fluids on the human body – particularly the blood and a woman’s reproductive cycle. Many women bleed and ovulate with the new and full moon. Think about how good you feel when you are in an especially beautiful place in nature. That feeling is a balancing happening within you.
The element of Earth helps us ground, provides us food and nourishment and connects us to water and our need for it. When our Earth element is out of balance we might find ourselves eating the wrong foods or not getting enough nourishment; under or over exercising; being over or under weight; feeling spacey and ungrounded.
An easy-to-access application that can help re-connect you to your Earth element is to walk outside barefoot or sit directly on the earth. Even a few minutes can foster essential energetic sustenance for the body as well as the mind and spirit. Wonderfully, just doing this simple little exercise and allowing the Earth’s healing energy to fill you can help you hear your inner wisdom more clearly therefore knowing and even desiring that which will create an elemental balance within your being.
Air/The Mental Body – Although science connects the mind with the brain, I have found in my work that the mind is also connected to our energetic field or aura. Not only do our own thoughts affect and even create our reality, but so to does the collective mind, that we all tap into unconsciously, affect what we perceive. One of the sayings I use with my students to help them understand this is “whatever you believe you will perceive. When our Air element is out of balance we might find ourselves thinking negatively or being affected by someone else’s negative thoughts/energy. We also might find ourselves experiencing difficulty around breathing. I commonly see people who have tapped into negative thought, be it there own or another’s, suffer from nasal allergies, asthma or anxiety which causes us to breath incorrectly.
So what can you do to disconnect from negative thought…first and foremost – TURN OF THE NEWS! Sorry to yell at you like that, but weather you believe it or not, I promise you, the garbage that is spewed from news casts, which are altered facts with additional fluff to affect ratings, infiltrates your awareness. I do not have TV/cable service in my home. Sure there are programs I like to watch, and that’s what Hulu or Netflix is for. Although I originally made the decision to drop the cable for budgetary reasons, the peaceful affect in my home is priceless.
Another very effective tool you can utilize to balance your Air element is affirmations in conjunction with breath. I recommend using a few deep belly breaths before speaking affirmations out loud to activate the Air element and clear your mind. Then, speak an affirmation out loud such as “my world is peaceful and calm.” Breathe it into your being, slowly. With the exhale, let go of any blockages to that affirmation. Repeat this process at least three times. You will notice an immediate shift in your energy. That’s the Air element coming into balance.
Water/The Emotional Body – It is the water in our body and environment that connect us directly with our emotions. Water can cleanse away painful emotions and enhance joyful feelings when it is balanced in our being. Too much water can lead to a manic kind of state where we feel huge emotional highs and deep depressing lows. Too little water can lead to a sense of numbness and feeling disconnected from our emotions. Think about the whole concept of PMS or even a high tide, which is affected by the full moon. During a full moon statistics show that emergency rooms are fuller, storms are stronger (Sandy happened during a full moon), and people’s emotions can be erratic. Then there is PMS and it’s accompanying emotional rollercoaster when a woman is full of blood and often retaining water. Men get their own kind of PMS which although not related to menstruation, is likely related to a high water ratio in their being/environment.
To balance the Water element in our bodies it is essential to take a pause and go inward and ask your wisdom where there may be lack or excess. If you live near a body of water, spending time near that juicy mass will automatically help balance your Water element, particularly if it is salt water. Similar to the grounding technique described in the Earth section, connecting with a natural water source can flush out excess fluid in your being or open the damn that might be keeping you parched. If you or not near a body of water, (or even if you are) a fantastic ritual to mimic the effect of actually being near a body of salt water is to take a salt bath. If you don’t have a bath tub, you can make your own salt scrub and use it in the shower, but a bath is preferable to get the soak. Of course, drinking appropriate amounts of water for your nourishment is essential. And, when you feel you are retaining water or have too much of this element in your being, foods that have a diuretic effect can help bring balance such as asparagus or dandelion leaf. There are also nourishing herbs that used in the form of an infusion or tincture can have natural diuretic constituents such as Burdock Root and of course, my favorite Stinging Nettle.
Fire/The Spiritual Body – regardless of our spiritual path, even a lack-there-of, science has proven that we are all energy which is connected to the element of Fire. Our fire element is associated with our passion, our faith, our inner wisdom and our psychic senses. When our Fire element is balanced in our life there is plenty of soul food to nourish our spirit. We regularly engage in passionate endeavors and feel a strong connection to Source, Universe, God/Goddess, Great Spirit – whatever you want to call it. When that Fire element is not balanced we find ourselves feeling apathetic, depressed, lost, without faith and disconnected from our intuition. There is a reason why lighting a candle is one of the most common acts of prayer or intention-setting across all faiths. It ignites our Fire element and on a deep subconscious level reminds us of who we really are and the power of our faith and intent.
Bringing balance to your Fire element requires getting in touch with your passions as well as allowing yourself to believe that your intuition is a natural gift and when followed will always lead you in the direction of your highest good. Lighting candles and setting intent is one way to invoke this element within you as well as using fire on a grander basis in ceremony such as utilizing a fire pit for a bond fire or an indoor fireplace. When connecting with fire literally is not possible, which was the case for the women I drummed with, your intent and movement will always conjure your inner blaze in a way that is amazingly healing. Dancing and drumming are two of the most powerful tools I’ve experienced in summoning our inner inferno. However, Yoga, jogging, walking and certain forms of breath work are superbly effective in balancing the element of Fire.
When we engage in balancing our elements there is usually a cross action that occurs in that balancing one naturally brings the other three into wholeness as well. Connecting with nature frequently will formulate regular maintenance of your inner elements as humans are irrefutably and fundamentally a part of nature. Reaffirming that connection awakens a glorious sense of freedom in our lives as we surrender to natural cycles and rhythms.
Speaking of rhythm, the group of women that I drummed with last weekend had clearly done an outstanding job of connecting with their inner fire. Not only was the energy in the room absolutely electrifying, but there was not a dry bone in the house. We were all drenched in sweat. This is a good thing. I call it sacred sweat. It reminds us that we are alive and healthy and operating from a state of balanced elemental wholeness. Our Body/Earth feels the rhythm that gets us moving. Our Mind/Air utilizes breath and expands and contracts without trying. Our Emotions/Water pumps our blood and moves toxins out of the body. Our Spirit/Fire is ignited and engaged in joy and passion.
How do you bring elemental balance into your life? Do you need support in this endeavor? Leave a comment or question and let’s get the conversation going.