How has your week been? Did you get to immerse yourself in nature at least once or twice?
I’m deep in reflection. How do we find a ‘new normal’? I seem to wonder inwardly whenever someone uses the term ‘once things are back to normal’. What is ‘normal’? I think we can (and have to) adapt and evolve, and we may want to think about what we want the new normal to be, instead of it being a quick reaction to how things changed in disaster response mode. I know I am blessed to even be able to ask those questions. I understand that many have lost their lives or health, have lost or are worried about losing their jobs or businesses, and all of us feel smaller or larger impacts on our lives. Unhooking from the larger scale worries works best in focusing on what is right in front of us, and tangible.
So one question that I explored is how I can connect better to what is surrounding me, because a lot of the time we spend more attention to what is going on in our heads than to what is going on around us. So let’s look at the five elements and how to perceive them with our five senses.
Wind – I didn’t think I’d be saying this, but standing outside Gothenburg airport waiting for the bus, I’m enjoying feeling the wind on my face and body. The element of air, flowing freely around me, reminding me that things are always in flux, no matter how much we wish to change them or hold on to them, they’ll change, and it’s ok and it will be ok, I am ok and we are ok. Update two days later: I’m sitting on the couch writing this newsletter, with a lot of wind chill still in my bones after riding the bike for a few hours. I forgot how much it can wear you out. Still good.
Water – Make it sacred, also and especially the drinking water. Sadhguru, an Indian yogi popular for his pragmatic views, recently brought this to my mind again, how many of us take clean drinking water for granted, and I certainly have for large parts of my life. For the most part, I drink tab water, and I am grateful that it is safe to drink. I charge it with crystals, which may or may not be your gig, and that is fine – for me it just is one of many possible ways of making it more special and being thankful. Maybe for you it is drinking it out of a special glass or bottle, or just really appreciating the moment you stand in your shower and get to rinse off.
Earth – Get my bare feet on the ground. I sometimes catch myself trying to ground with food, but not necessarily the right food. After I had eaten a pretzel and a large bar of dark chocolate with nuts I realized that I was stuffing down things instead of truly grounding myself in the present moment by connecting to the earth. There’s a better way, let me put my bare feet on the earth. And when I am stuck inside a building, it is still taking a few grounding breaths, feeling the ground under my feet, and the exchange of energy through it. Putting your hands into soil serves the same purpose, so getting your hands dirty is great.
Fire – Gathering around the fire has always brought people together. It is a tribal memory we hold from long times ago, which is why most of us are still drawn to campfires when we get the chance to. Whether that is on a beach or in a garden, in a stone circle or a fire basket, or an indoor fireplace, the atmosphere it brings with it is deeply nurturing, and to me brings a sense of eternity.
One practice you can do independent of your location and the weather outside is gazing into a candle at night to go inward. How does your inner state change as you spend a few minutes gazing into fire?
Space – This element may be the most abstract one to relate to. It always seemed harder to touch than the others, but then again, we don’t really touch wind or fire either, but we perceive them with our senses nevertheless. So how do you connect with space? Sensing it around you, in between your ears, in your throat, around your shoulders, to the walls and up to the ceiling of the room you are in, space that is structured but open above when we are outside, or the massive amounts of space as you roam about in an open space in nature. The massiveness of space around me is one of the things that feels so opening when I am in the mountains. How does the space in between your hands feel when you hold them close together but not touching?
This week, I would like to encourage you to perceive these five elements with your five senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.
I hear my critical inner voice throwing out doubts the second I write this down – How do you taste fire without burning your tongue? You get creative, the moment you stick out your tongue you can start perceiving with its sense, and roasted food is absolutely an option to make this happen.
Get playful – I am inviting you to experiment with perceiving sensations. Let me know how it goes 🙂