In our previous blog (exploring the six elements), we discussed the elements of fire, water, earth, and air and how we can use them for meditation to the depths of who we are. Once we have been successful with this we can move onto a deeper level of meditation by dividing the elements into qualities. The best place to try this meditation is outside.
In the texts of Pali, there are two ways to develop the four elements of meditation. There is a very brief method of it, which the Buddha taught and this is what we are going to explore here.
The four elements that we want to focus on are all found within our physical bodies and we can use this meditation to focus on them. To do this, we focus on each element at a time until we can feel them all in the body. There are twelve qualities that make up the four elements and in order to do this practice, we must go through each quality individually and feel them the best we can. Once we have mastered one, we move onto the next and so on. In between each quality, we can merge them all together in order to master each element. Here are the qualities:
Earth- roughness, heaviness, hardness, softness, smoothness, lightness
Water- Flowing, cohesion
Fire- heat, coldness
Air- supporting, pushing
To do this we are best to start at the top of the body and work our way down. For example, when we focus on pushing we find this within the top of the body and then work our way down before exploring the next quality. It is easiest to start with one area to focus our attention on. Here is an overview of where to start with each element in order of how we do them:
Pushing– Feeling the pushing in the head when we take a deep breath
Hardness– The roof of your mouth with your tongue
Roughness– The roughness of the skin with your fingertips
Heaviness– Place both hands on top of the other and feel the heaviness on the body
Supporting– Sitting upright, bend the body forward and then upright feeling the support
Softness– Feeling the inside of your lip with your tongue
Smoothness– Wetting the lips and running your tongue along with them from side to side
Lightness– Waggling the fingers up and down
Heat– Looking for the warmth of the body
Coldness– Feeling the coldness of the breath as it enters the body
Cohesion– Feeling how to body is held together by skin
Flowing– Feeling how your blood flows within you and the saliva around your mouth
This may seem a little complicated and it can take a while to get into a habit of connecting with the elements but it definitely a great way of finding peace within ourselves. If this is something you struggle with then you can go to a more basic approach but focusing purely on the four elements themselves as we have talked about like simply feeling the heat of our bodies, feeling the air around us, feeling the liquid within the body and feeling our body on the ground. Whichever way we choose to do this it will have great benefits for our good being and will connect us to nature and to the earth. It is a way to stay grounded which ultimately keeps our emotions balanced so, if you are feeling an imbalance with your emotions are looking to steady yourself, give this meditation a try.
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