“The earth is our origin and destination. The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart. The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows. When we emerge from our offices, rooms and houses, we enter our natural element. We are children of the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home. Nothing can separate us from the vigour and vibrancy of this inheritance. In contrast to our frenetic, saturated lives, the earth offers a calming stillness. Movement and growth in nature takes time. The patience of nature enjoys the ease of trust and hope. There is something in our clay nature that needs to continually experience this ancient, outer ease of the world. It helps us remember who we are and why we are here.”
~John O’ Donohue
Yoga as a practice of balancing the elements of our experience to recognize a more graceful and dynamic relationship with the beauty of nature. This beauty is nourishing to us because it represents the very forces and qualities we interact with in the world and illuminates how we can access their powers.
When a practitioner steps onto the mat, it become a microcosmic practice space for the daily relationships of life. What ignites us? What pacifies us? What stabilizes us? How do we harness our inner stability? What is our relationship to freedom and restriction?
3 BREATH-FOCUSED VISUAL MEDITATIONS
Enjoy these 3 simple meditations on the elements of Earth, Fire, and Space to connect with and invoke the beauty of nature in your daily flow.
Find a comfortable spot to sit where you feel the stability of the earth underneath you. Imagine yourself as a great mountain, magnificent and towering over the land with steadiness and power. You are immovable, made of stone and earth.
Feel your steady position, imagine your own height, visualize the shape of yourself as a mountain that you feel connected to. Maybe the mountain is snow-capped, or covered with lush trees and vegetation. Perhaps it is pointed, or the top is smooth and rounded. Add as much detail as you can to the earth of the mountain: trees, creatures, even buildings, waterfalls, and lakes.
As you breathe, imagine the rooted feeling of your lower half as the base of the mountain, and your spine rising and culminating at the peak. Feel your deep breath travel up and down the core of your structure. Invite the inner qualities of stability and relaxed, grounded presence into your body. Your awareness is stable, like the mountain.
You are complete and centered, unmoving and present. No matter what the season or the weather, you keep standing. Imagine storms approaching, sunny days, snow and wind, rainbows and cloud cover. Continue this visualization and breath practice for 10+ minutes, sitting with strength and stability until you can carry it with you into your day.
Find a comfortable place to sit for meditation. Begin by allowing your breath to become, slow, steady, and deep. Allow your inhalations to become wider and longer, and your exhalations to become more patient.
Imagine a fire burning at the center of your chest behind your sternum, the energetic heart center. See this as a ceremonial fire that is always present, stoked and sustained by the energy of your breath. Visualize it’s setting, on the bare earth, in a fire place, like a lamp.
As you would in an open eye gazing meditation with fire, turn your vision inward and downward to begin to observe the flame at your heart center.
See the clear and bright flame at your heart and begin to explore any feelings or thoughts you would like to offer for clarification in the fire of your heart. Imagine this fire consuming these stagnant or stressful thoughts or feelings and creating a greater feeling of power and warmth in your body. With each thought or feeling that you offer to be transformed by the fire, you can watch your fire grow bigger.
As if the breath could fan the flame, start to feel the movement of your breath in tandem with the growing light of the fire of your heart.
Sustain this practice until you feel sufficiently charged. This fire is always burning and you can close your eyes and build your courageous flame whenever you need. Carry your newfound clarity out into the world!
Imagine yourself in a wide open space: choose from an open field or valley, in the middle of a vast ocean, freely perched atop a cloud in the sky on a sunny day surrounded by spaciousness. Take some time to truly visualize your open space, and give it as much detail and color as you are able. See yourself as a small figure in the midst of this vast openness. Notice what pulls you out of your visualization, if there is anything. Now that you have situated yourself in this imaginary ‘space’, being your breathing practice.
Breathe deep into your belly and feel the expansive quality of your inhale. With your inhalation, your body becomes more internally ’spacious’. Start to focus on creating a smooth inhale, free from resistance. Exhale slowly and imagine your exhalations flowing without limitation into the space around you, a contribution to that openness.
Now begin to expand your attention to imagine your inhalations filling beyond your body into the space around you. Notice when you feel the breath fills to your bodily periphery, and imagine your breath surrounding the space around your body. Feel this openness as a place to think and recalibrate. Notice the pause you can create at the end of the inhale.
Now, like a pranic sponge, imagine your breath being pulled back into your body from the space around you, and exhale your breath as an offering back into that space. You become a part of the space as your breath creates this change. Notice how clear, calm, and unrestricted your breath can become.
Set a timer for 10 minutes to enjoy this spaciousness in your day. Return to the expansion of your breath and ‘pranify’ yourself from the space around you in any moment.