I hope you have been finding this exploration of the Elements beneficial. I am teaching it as part of the Unveiling Series because when we anchor our awareness in the physicality of being alive in this moment, the veils of knotted patterns of thought thin and even fall away.
My current bedtime read is the novel Florence in Ecstasy, and I came across a passage that speaks to the transformative value of attending the elements. The central character, a troubled young woman, finds rowing on the Arno River frees her from persistent problematic thoughts. Here is an excerpt:
…the weight of the boat on my shoulder, the explosion of the sun on my face, the trembling of the metal dock under my feet, the settling into the seat, the footrests gripping my heels, the oars sliding into place, the first pull of water…You are here, each stroke says. You. Are. Here.Jessie Chaffee, Florence in Ecstasy
Did you notice the fire element of the sun? The earth element of the boat and the dock? The water element of the river? You. Are. Here. they all told her. And though, of course, she didn’t define the troubling thought patterns as veils, their knotted patterns were, up to that moment, a dominant and blinding presence in her life. In the state of physical awareness while rowing, they fell away. This is an essential part of meditation: cultivating the felt sense of mindfulness so that in all life experiences we are fully present to experience them, to engage authentically and wholeheartedly, not blinded by veils of entangled thoughts, judgments, and opinions.
Awareness of the elements as we experience them lets the veils soften and even drop, allowing us see and even celebrate the impermanent and interconnected nature of being. In this way, we find our place in the family of things, as Mary Oliver wrote in her poem Wild Geese.
For those who have had been adversely affected by fire, this might feel like a challenging focus. But there’s much more to fire than its ability to destroy. It’s intrinsic to all life. So much about fire we take for granted, not recognizing the many ways this vital element lives within us, enabling us to move, feel, and think. If this surprises you, you have even more surprises in store in this guided meditation.
GUIDED MEDITATION ON THE FIRE ELEMENT
I hope you took the time to do the guided meditation and experienced joy in discovering your fiery nature and the expansive sense of elemental interconnection. Obviously, experiencing something is very different from talking about it, so if you haven’t done the guided meditation yet, please do so, as this sensory imagination exploration is a rich and potentially transformative experience.
The guided meditation offers us the opportunity to expand our perspective. From that perspective it is easier to recognize and investigate any veils that may be hanging about, causing problems in life.
Some of us have whole veils dedicated to fire. Most people have at least threads of memories of personal encounters with fire, some heartwarming, some scary, and some excruciatingly painful. These memories may be dim or even forgotten. Yet they still affect how we think about fire. Maybe these earlier encounters with fire were teaching experiences: I’ll never do that foolish thing again! Or maybe they were more complicated and challenging, filled with guilt, blame, anger, or dread. Whatever they were, they are threads worth noticing. So take a moment to revisit any experiences you may have had with fire. Let your memory wander, notice what you feel. Notice how those feelings affect your relationship to living in this moment. Then return again and again to the sensory experience of what came up through the guided meditation. Let the threads be noticed. And let that warm fiery glow of compassionate awareness soften the veil to whatever degree you are able in this moment. May this practice be of benefit.
To end, I will share one of a number of poems I have written about fire.
Acres of Chimneys
altars to fire
by embers’ embrace
in a frenzied feast
gorged ‘til replete,
and then, at last,
exhaust to ash.
In their wake,
then take up the rake
as a way to reclaim
what can’t be lost
despite the pain
Don’t we all