We human beings are made up of the five elements earth, water, fire, wind and space. By contemplating the unique qualities of each of these, we can identify with our own true elemental natures. Then we can develop a life transformative meditation technique which is atuned to the reality of the elements. Brian Hilliard guides you into five-element meditation.
Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and jump into this five-element meditation, where you will first visualize the element, before meditating by being the element. Begin by taking a seat (either on a meditation cushion or chair) and sit with your back straight and your hands face down on your thighs…
What are the qualities of earth? Solid, supporting, stable, grounding. We can rely on our bodies to ground us on the earth. Gravity pulls us down and Mother Earth is reliable and sustaining. Imagine that your body is like a mountain and decide that no matter how hard the wind blows, you will stay unmoving (you can adjust your posture along the way if it becomes too uncomfortable.) Let gravity anchor you down, let the earth teach you how to be unmoveable. Be a mountain. Stay for 10 minutes.
The next element to contemplate is water. Water flows around things and embraces them completely. It perfectly takes on the shape of things. In meditation, water is feeling. As you sit still, try to feel the shape and quality of each emotion and experience. Sometimes, in order to give some earth support to your water meditation, begin to feel each breath as you exhale. As breath exits the solid body and flows out into space, try to feel the sensations of the body. Feel the sounds and sights that surround you. Be water. Let your experiences flow for 10 minutes.
Fire is hot, burning, bright. It illuminates and consumes things. In meditation, fire is our awareness; bright, vivid and present. We already know how to stay stable, like the earth, and keep track of our feelings with the flow of water. Now our areness can start to burn up everything that is not elemental and that we don’t need in our life. By practicing this element, we feel the difference between being in a pure elemental way, and disconnecting from the elements. We yearn to get back to basics, to our elemental selves. When the fire burns, be the fire.
Wind is powerful; we can either be blown away by it, or we can joyfully ride the current. In meditation, the wind represents our thoughts and emotions. When the earth is ignored and water forgets to feel, the wind strongly blows- sometimes we can’t make it stop. We are always controlled by our emotions, be it stressed, anxious, tired or confused. But we can’t just make the wind stop. When the wind blows we must remember to come back to our home, the mountain, before feeling the water and burning away negativity with fire.
Space is open, accommodating, unobstructed. Space is the area in which the four elements operate. As beginners in meditation, we are learning to trust this space, and to ultimately be this space. This means getting used to being a mountain and cleansing ourselves with the feeling of water and fire. It gives us the space to love ourselves. Space is vast and filled with countless beings, and as meditators we can learn to endure space without boundaries and inhibitions. As we advance, more and more beings can be included in our space meditation. Space is our limitless mind. Feel the space.
Practicing the 5 Elements of Meditation
One half of the meditation is remembering to sit down and be the sacred mountain. By just getting to the meditation cushion in a quiet place you have already accomplished a lot. Practice lots of water meditation (like drinking 8 glasses a day), let your fire of curiosity burn and come back to your breath when distracted by the wind. We are the elements; identify them and become one with them. It takes intention, desire and commitment to do it each day but it allows you to discover the amazing mystery that we are not separate from the universe, which is made up of these five elements.
About the author: Brian Hilliard is a known expert and renowned teacher of mindfulness meditation, having practiced for 35 years from some of the best Tibetan Masters in the world. He has written a book named ‘How to Meditate- Mindfulness Journeys to the Heart’ which is available on Amazon and he now runs his own meditation, mindfulness and yoga retreats in Greece and Morocco with his partner and Shannon van Staden. For more information, head to Minfulness Journeys.