Meditation restores us in ways few other activities can. More than simply closing one’s eyes, meditation is actually a process of deep awakening and insight. Here are 6 elements of meditation practice you can adopt one day at a time:
M – Mindfulness: awakening to the possibility of each moment
E – Enlightenment: seeking knowledge, teaching knowledge
D – Daily intention: one thought, one breath, one action at a time
I – Inner balance: centering the deepest part of your spirit
T – Tranquility: looking within to find the calm you need
A – Acceptance: accepting all thoughts without judgment
T – Trueness: authenticity in all aspects of our lives
I – Inner peace: peace in oneself, peace in the world
O – Oneness: realizing you are greater than yourself
N – Namaste: recognizing the divine spark within every being
Six Element of Meditation
The Earth element is everything solid and resistant, everything that gives us form. The Earth element is everything solid and resistant, everything that gives us form. Everything solid within the body and everything solid externally is the same Earth element. There’s really no “me” Earth element or “other” Earth element. it’s all the same stuff. We normally think of our form, our body, as being us, as being ourselves, but here we recollect how everything of the Earth element that is within us comes from outside and returns to the outside. The Earth element provides the paradigm for the remaining physical elements, which are all treated in the same way.
All of the Water within the body, which we think of as “us,” and “ours,” as “ourselves,” is in reality simply borrowed for a while from the outside world, that it’s quite literally flowing through us, and that we don’t own it. There is only one Water element. There’s no “me” Water and there’s no “other” Water. And so we reflect: “This is not me. This is not mine. I am not this.”
The Buddha defined the Fire element as “that by which one is warmed, ages, and is consumed, and that by which what is eaten … gets completely digested.” In other words the Fire element within is metabolism. It’s our energy.
So sitting in meditation we can experience the heat of the body, feel the cooler air we breathe in contrast with the warmth of the air as it leaves the body, feel the heart pumping, and call to mind the myriad chemical combustions taking place at the cellular level, sparks of electricity in the muscles, nerves, and brain. All of this energy is borrowed from the Fire element outside of us.
As soon as we call to mind the air element within the body – the air in our lungs and other body cavities, even the gases dissolved in our blood – we’re immediately aware of the breathing, aware that air is flowing rhythmically in and out of the body.
So almost simultaneously we recall the Air element outside of us – the air surrounding us and touching the skin in this very moment, the winds and clouds and breezes that we see and hear moving branches and grasses.
Space: it’s a strange and different element. It’s just there. We can’t see it, we can’t touch it, and we can’t say how far it extends. We can’t even say what, if anything, it’s made of.
The Consciousness Element
It isn’t obvious that consciousness is an element in the same way as the physical elements or even space. Somehow in the evolution of the material universe life has arisen, and in the evolution of life consciousness has come into being. Perhaps we could say that consciousness is the other elements knowing themselves.
The Buddha introduces the element in this way: “Then there remains only consciousness, bright and purified.” It’s just possible that he was referring here to mind’s intrinsic nature, or he may simply have meant that the mind has been brightened and purified by letting go of grasping after the other five elements.
All six elements are always with us. Some things are hard and resistant, like this platform, and body standing on it. That’s the earth element. Our body’s outer surface is an expression of the earth element; but what about inside it? Inside, there’s all kinds of colourful fluid, jelly and goo flowing about – so that’s the water element. And obviously there’s water outside, too, for example there’s some in this glass, and the glass itself, being hard, is the earth element. So in various forms, earth and water are everywhere. Also everything is hot or cold; we are fairly warm, but the water and its glass are cool. So that’s temperature, that’s the fire element. And it’s all moving around, with the movement of the planet and the beating of my heart. That movement is the air element. So everything we experience is a combination of these elements. Our body have firmness; it has fluidity; it is warm or cold, and it is in continual motion. And so is everything, everywhere, universally.
The element of space is even more basic inasmuch as it’s what gives the material world its place to be in. Our body is a shape in space. It occupies space; it moves around in space; it constantly changes its shape in space. But then consciousness, the sixth element, is even more basic than that, because we experience space and all the other elements. Everything, even space, depends on our experiencing it. The faculty of experience is basic to experiencing any kind of world. It’s a very simple truth: if we close our eyes and ears, we don’t see or hear anything. We won’t be conscious of any sights or sounds. So the consciousness element really is basic; it is everything really, it is the whole world – it is whatever is seen, heard, smelled, tasted. Also it’s whatever is felt, imagined, or thought about. Consciousness is the ultimate element – or at least, so it would seem.
You can see how meditation on these elements can bring us closer to an experience of our real nature.
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