a journey through earth, water, fire, air, and space
There are countless types of meditation in the world today.
Some are complex, involved, and intricate, taking many years to master. Others are more simple in nature, requiring you to focus your attention on your 5 senses– something we can all do at any time.
What is meditation, you ask?
Certain Tibetan meditation techniques, for example, involve an entire journey through visualizations, landscapes, and levels of consciousness. Other traditions are as simple as can be. Vipassana meditation is one such method; there is no goal, no complications, no real technique. One simply sits and becomes a witness to things as they arise and disappear.
All meditation techniques can be powerful and transformative and in each case, one must practice and make an effort before they will bear fruits. The more you put in, the more you get out of your practice.
There is a nicely balanced meditation that involves the fundamental building blocks of the universe and their qualities. In yogic cosmology (called Samkhya), the material universe and all things in it are built on 5 basic elements. These elements are called bhutas. Instead of being elements in the scientific sense, they are more like qualities of matter. These qualities can be observed all around you.
The yogis believed that the more you connect and comprehend these bhutas, the more you will understand and relate to the entire universe.
The best way to get to grips with these 5 elements is to meditate on their natures.
Here is a simple way to begin your journey of understanding the universe from the yogic viewpoint.
Sit comfortably on a cushion or chair. You can also lie on your back if you prefer. Whatever allows you to relax and gives you space to get deeper into your consciousness will work. Take a few breaths, arrive in the moment, and into the body. Put aside distracting thoughts or feelings for the moment. This mediation takes about 25 minutes to complete. Spend about 5 minutes on each element.
Begin your journey with the Earth element.
This element is heavy, solid, stable, and difficult to change. For the first part of the meditation, use your mind to create a feeling of heaviness in the body. Let it sink and be very solid, earth-like, and immovable. Explore the feeling of heaviness. There is no right or wrong; this is simply an exploration. Spend 5 minutes or so on the cultivation of this feeling of solidity. If you really get deep into it, do it for longer. After a while, move on to the next element.
The second bhuta is the Water element.
Consider the nature of water: it is smooth, flowing, cool, and flexible. For this part of the meditation, try to create a very deep feeling of relaxation. Drop all tension from the body little by little. Water is very much about allowing the flow to happen, so don’t do anything. When you cultivate relaxation and letting go, the water element takes over and flows where it is supposed to flow. Explore this feeling and do it for 5 minutes or longer. Note the general feeling in your being after the water mediation.
Now move on to the Fire element.
Fire is hot, intense, powerful, and transformative. For this part of the meditation, we will concentrate on intensity. This intensity is all about trying to focus your attention. Start to repeat the mantra OM silently, over and over again. Do not let the attention wander or stray. Just keep your focus over time. This might be difficult at first because the mind tends to stray. Keep trying and your focus will improve and so will your relationship to the fire element. Do the meditation for about 5 minutes or longer if you have a deep focus. Note the effects on your mind and body.
Now move on to the Air element.
Air is movable, changeable, and light. For this meditation, we will focus on our personal air element: our breath. Attach your mind to your breath and follow its movement in and out. No complicated Pranayama here! Just simple observation of your breath as it moves in and out. Notice whether it is shallow, or deep, or long, or short, and keep your attention there. By doing this, you will gain a better relationship with all things that are light, flowing, or airy. Keep going for 5 minutes or longer if you prefer.
The final element is Space.
Space is empty, devoid of form and quality. It is more difficult to create a connection with Space, but it can be done. In fact, the yogis considered the space element to be the most important one to connect to. For this meditation, really watch the mind’s activities closely. If you look carefully, you will notice that there are thoughts, and then there are spaces of quiet between the thoughts. These spaces are part of the space element. Try to notice the spaces and stay with the quiet for as long as you can. Thoughts will come, but let them pass again and dwell in the spaces of the mind again. With practice, you will be able to easily move into the deep, vast, and limitless silence that is the space element.
These 5 Elements are the essence of the entire world, both within you and outside of you. Exploring them and developing a connection with them will help you to expand and harmonize your relationship with all things.
Yoga is a technique designed to bring you into connection with everything. The exploration of the 5 elements through meditation can help you move along this beautiful path of yoga, and help you experience the powerful benefits of meditation.
If you are looking for a way to start or deepen your daily meditation – take look at this program at Mind Valley and the Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction online course by Sounds True: – The YOGI TIMES team