While moving through the ups and downs of life at this challenging time, I find that spending time outdoors every day helps me immensely. Whether swimming in Lake Erie, riding my bike, gardening or walking in my neighborhood, being surrounded by the beauty of nature brings peace and balance.
Engaging in physical activity outdoors is exhilarating. It energizes the body, frees the breath and calms the mind. When I am outdoors, I feel the power and grandeur of nature and get absorbed in the moment. The warmth of sun on my skin, the touch of wind in my hair, the smell of the flowers, and the solidity of the ground under my feet – these all bring joy, presence and a sense of connection to all that is.
In yoga philosophy, the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space are used to create a map through which we can view the world and ourselves, and gain greater understanding of how to live in balance. If this ideas resonates with you, read my blog post From Earth to Space – The Five Elements in Yoga Practice for a more thorough treatment of this subject.
EARTH represents solidity, form and shape. It is the mountains, trees, rocks and plants. The earth element is our bones and muscles, which create our form. When the earth element is in balance, we feel stable, calm and grounded.
WATER represents fluidity, movement and creativity. It is the oceans, rivers, streams and rain. The water element is our blood, lymph and organs. When the water element is in balance, our energy flows like a stately river, and we experience vitality and emotional serenity.
FIRE represents heat, warmth, and potency. It is the sun, the core of the earth, and the energy continued in every atom. The fire element is our nervous system and our mind. When the fire element is in balance, the mind is focused and orderly, able to make decisions and plans, and yet remain firmly grounded in the present.
AIR represents mobility, sensitivity and discernment. It is the currents of wind around us and the air we breath. The air element is our intuitive spiritual intelligence. The air element is in balance, we can make fine tuned assessments and discriminate between what brings temporary pleasure and what brings lasting happiness.
SPACE represents vastness, formlessness and openness. It is the great cauldron of emptiness that contains all forms. The space element is our innermost being, where we can experience bliss, spaciousness and ultimate freedom.
We can look at any situation and ask ourselves which elements are dominating and which elements are missing. Sometimes, just recognizing that I am not relating to the earth element can remind me to ground and settle myself. Or noticing that my breathing is constricted, and I reconnect to the lungs and the inner body. Or I find that I have been focusing only on the relative world instead of making a daily practice of going inward to search for a glimmer of the infinite being within.
There is so much in life that we do not have control over, and in challenging times, that is more obvious than ever. See if the beauty of nature can help you come into balance as you recognize that you are also made of the same elements as the creation around you.