Connecting with the World Outside

Waves pound black lava rocks near the beach. No sand here! Just power, foam, and water spray. (Laupahoehoe park, Hawaii)

Water – powerful and life-giving (Laupahoehoe park, Hawaii)

I forget that it’s all inside. There are the five elements – earth, fire, water, air, and ether. The first four are well-recognized ancient building blocks of everything. The fifth one is occasionally forgotten. Sometimes, I long for something that is REAL. After all, I work in an office, cut off from the natural world, then travel by bus or car, to arrive in my home. My time outside is limited during the workweek, and I have to make an effort to get outside and remember the world beyond the computer, telephone, and my mind.

Rising out of a sandy beach are large boulders. One towers over the rest in a shark-tooth design. The side facing the ocean is sharp and jagged. The side away from the ocean is more gentle and sloping.

Earth – solid and dependable – until it isn’t (South Oregon coast)

When I sit in meditation, I spend a lot of time reestablishing my connection with the rest of the world. I recently discovered a new way to reinforce my place in nature. I’m sharing a meditation here in which I find it all – within me (with much thanks to Suzanne Lie, who introduced this concept to me).

As I sit still, eyes shut, I connect with the earth. I look within me for the elements of Earth and find it in my bones, the minerals that nourish my body, and the muscles which are the groundwork for my structure. I hold the Earth in these places, and the Earth is a part of me.

I connect with fire, seeing lightning in the sky and look within me for the element of fire, and I see it in every synapse, every nerve, and my spinal cord. As my nervous system transmits tiny electrical current throughout my body, fire is very present within me.

This is a simple fire in a home fire place. Flames lick high.

Fire – warm, nurturing fire always has the power to destroy too.

I connect with the element of water. My blood pulses through my body, integrating water in all its glory. Without it, I could not survive. It doesn’t stop there. It’s in my tears, urine, joint fluid, and more. Just as it is fundamental on the Earth, it is fundamental within me.

I connect to the element of air, the glorious oxygen and gases of the atmosphere. My lungs gather air, hold it, and contribute oxygen and gases to be distributed throughout the body. Oxygen runs in my blood, organs, and muscles, ever present.

I am not separate and apart; I am as much a part of the Earth and nature as any other animal, plant, mineral, or body of water. I am no different. As I connect further, I reach beyond these elements to connect with my ether – my soul and spirit. And as surely as I take this moment to commune with myself, I know that animals have this connection too. Many times when they sleep, I suspect that they are in meditation. When I meditate, the animals in my house do too. Birds, dogs, and cats all gather around and appear to be asleep, just as I do, but I suspect so much more is going on. We are connecting with our essential selves, our ether. The minerals, plants, and bodies of water don’t need to make so much of an effort to connect. Their connection to their ether is different, as it is for everyone, but it is ever so subtly there. We all are made of the five elements.

Six brightly colored balloons rise above the plains. Behind them, the Rocky Mountains and Longs Peak are easy to see. The foothills are covered in brush, but the large peaks behind are still covered in snow. A grassy field is in the foreground and urban sprawl between the fields and the foothills.

Air – pretty hard to photograph, so these hot air balloons will have to do. We can’t see air, but does that mean it doesn’t exist?