Meditation on the Elemental Regions
I am often asked for some sort of written text that better explains the Elements and my answer is always that reading about the Elements is not the best way to actually learn about them. The best way to learn about the Elements is through meditation and direct work with the Elements.
The Hermetic mind-set which views the universe as being the result of an interaction between Elemental forces was derived from direct, personal internal and external observation. The most basic starting place for such observation and self-education regarding the Elements is one's own self. For example, in Bardon's "Initiation Into Hermetics", the student begins their introduction to the Elements through the observation of their own character and the subsequent assignment of each character trait to an Element. But that is not the only place within ourselves where we can observe the qualities of the Elements -- we can also learn about them through the observation of our physical bodies and this is what I propose in the meditation that follows.
Lie down on your back next to a wall, with a couple of pillows behind your torso and head. The ideal position for this meditation is to have your torso elevated at a 30 degree angle and your head at 60-75 degrees. This assures a slight compression of the abdomen, an elevation of the heart above the legs and an elevation of the head above the heart. Get comfortable in this position and rest your hands, one atop the other, over your lower abdomen.
Become aware of your head region and gently descend into your chest region, then your abdominal region and end in your leg region. Relax all the muscles in your leg region starting from your feet and working your way up to your pelvis. Include your buttocks and sphincter muscle in this relaxation.
Now spread your awareness throughout your entire leg region and consider the ways in which your leg region manifests the qualities of the Earth Element.
Feel the inertia and still calmness of the entire region. Spend a few moments meditating upon the fact that this region remains inert until movement is consciously willed, sending an electric signal from the Fire region of your body to activate the muscles of the Earth region. Meditate upon this region's utter passivity without that impulse from the brain. There is no motion within this region except for what reverberates through it's uppermost layer, from the Water region above where the rhythmic motion of the breath originates; and what reverberates through the veins, from the Air region above where the heart's rhythm originates the pumping of blood. No motion originates within the Earth region, yet those higher motions from the Fire, Air and Water regions are what sustain the leg region and animate it.
Now shift your awareness to your abdominal region and deeply relax the muscles of your abdomen and lower back. Now spread your awareness throughout your entire abdominal region and encompass the area from your hips up to, and including, your diaphragm muscle. As before, consider the ways in which your abdominal region manifests the qualities of the Water Element.
Feel the fluidity of all the organs of the Water region as they process the food and drink you have consumed and as they purify the blood that pumps through your veins. Focus upon the slow and regular rhythm of the diaphragm muscle's contraction and relaxation, contraction and relaxation, over and over in a seemingly endless cycle. It is like the gentle ebb and flow at the ocean's edge on a calm day, causing the breath to come in and go out, come in and go out, over and over. Sense how this steady rhythm impacts all the organs of the Water region, moving them back and forth like seaweed caught in a wave's current.
Located just below your sternum and above your navel lies the solar plexus of nerves which control most of the functions of the Water region. This "little brain" keeps the intestines contracting and relaxing as they should, keeps the diaphragm muscle contracting and relaxing as it should, keeps your kidneys and liver functioning and so on. Notice how all these functions carry on without out conscious (i.e., "big brain") intervention. We can take conscious control of some of these functions but our control is always temporary and soon enough, the "little brain" takes back control lest we die. A good example is our control over the diaphragm muscle -- we can stop our breath but only for so long before we are forced to breathe. While respiration (i.e., the actual exchange of oxygen with the blood) occurs within the Air region, it is controlled by the Water region.
The Water region is responsible for the absorption of nutrients and the expulsion of toxins. It causes the breath through which we absorb nutrients and expel toxins; and, it causes the functioning of the organs that absorb the nutrients from our food and drink and that expel toxins through regurgitation, defecation and urination.
While the "little brain" has a high degree of autonomy and the organs of the Water region are responsible for much of the sustenance of our bodies, it is nonetheless dependant upon the heart beat of the Air region and the organs of the Fire region which serve as the seat of our conscious awareness. Without the animating force of consciousness awareness and the pumping heart, the "little brain" dies and the organs of the Water region cease to function. Yet it is the Water region which sustains the body and keeps it fit for consciousness to inhabit . . . one cannot exist without the other.
Now shift your awareness to your chest region and deeply relax the muscles of your chest, shoulders and upper back. Now spread your awareness throughout your entire chest region and encompass the area from your diaphragm up to, and including, your shoulders. As before, consider the ways in which your chest region manifests the qualities of the Air Element.
Feel the expansion of your entire chest cavity with the intake of breath forced by the expansion of your diaphragm. It is as if you are unfurling your wings and taking flight. It lifts your entire being, making it feel as light as air with the influx of oxygen to your blood. And then, with the deflation of your lungs forced by the contraction of your diaphragm, your body is momentarily focused upon the exhalation of carbon dioxide and, perhaps, upon expressing the distillation of your thoughts through speaking or singing.
The Air region lives with the same rhythm of the breath imposed by the Water region, but with the addition of a second rhythm imposed by the Fire region -- that of the heart beat. This is a much faster rhythm than that imposed by the Water region. It is here in the Air region that these two rhythms meet to serve their single purpose -- oxygenation of the blood. Fed by the lungs and powered by the heart, your life's blood is pumped to and from every corner of your body.
It is in service to your life blood that your heart and diaphragm interact and influence each other. For example when your heart beat increases and you need a greater supply of oxygen to feed its faster rate of blood flow, your breathing increases; you can slow your heart rate intentionally by slowing your breath rate; etc.. In other words, the two rhythms of Fire and Water are interdependent and together, they create a third, more complex rhythm within the Air region.
Now shift your awareness to your head region and deeply relax the muscles of your neck, face and cranium. Now spread your awareness throughout your entire head region and encompass the area from your shoulders up to the top of your head. As before, consider the ways in which your head region manifests the qualities of the Fire Element.
Herein lies the most complex organ of your body -- your brain. This highly specialized organ translates your consciousness awareness into electrical and chemical signals that are capable of communicating with your entire body and which allow you to communicate and interact with the external world. Your brain is a place of ceaseless electrical and chemical activity. The input of every active nerve in your body gets routed through your brain and your brain perceives and then interprets all of that input.
All of the sensory organs are located within the Fire region except one -- your sense of touch, the which organ (the nerves) is spread throughout your entire body. Nonetheless all perception through the senses and all interpretation of those perceptions, occurs within the Fire region.
The Fire region is also the center of expression. It is here that the signals originate which move your hands and feet, flex your facial muscles, form your mouth into words and synchronize your breathing in the service of speech. It is here that your consciousness translates itself into thoughts and words and feelings and causes them to be expressed.
The organs through which we physically feed ourselves (mouth and nose) and through which we astra-mentally feed ourselves (eyes, ears, sinuses, and tongue) are also located in the Fire region, while those systems through which we normally excrete (urinary and bowels) are located in the Water region.
The Fire region is the place where your consciousness integrates with physical existence. From here, your consciousness extends its will upon the Air, Water and Earth regions and, through them, upon your external environment.
Now expand your awareness to encompass all four Elemental regions simultaneously. Spend several moments meditating upon the interaction of each region with each of the other regions. Observe and experience their interdependence.
This meditation can also be expanded and applied to the Elemental regions of astral body and temporal mental body. For more information in this regard, I recommend the first three Lessons of the "Self-Healing Archaeous" audio series.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
29 September 2004