• Resilient Practice

How to Harness the Power of the Elements: Air

“The Pessimist complains about the Wind; The Optimist Expects it to Change, the realist Adjusts the Sails”

William Arthur Ward

Air is regarded as one of the five elements in many spiritual teachings. The others of these are Earth, Fire, Water and Spirit.

Air is essential for all life on Earth. It surrounds us in all that we do. We are dependent on it and yet it is invisible.

Diogenes of Apollonia an Ancient Greek Philosopher associated air with intelligence and the psyche or soul.

We can describe someone we perceive as inauthentic as being full of “hot air.”

We often leave difficult situations saying, “I need to get some air.”

We unconsciously speak the language of air when describing our own emotions such as being ‘caught in a whirlwind’ or ‘floating on air.’

Air represents creativity, new ideas, new life, communication, and clarity.

We love it for its ability to bring freshness and something new to a situation.

We even comment when we feel ‘the winds of change.’

Where Earth is fixed, Air is constant movement. Where water flows, air moves in gusts. Where fire transmutes, air brings a new perspective and blasts opens the door to opportunity. It can be tempestuous and destructive, or gentle and cooling. It cannot be tamed or controlled. It can fill our sails or hot air balloon and take us somewhere else entirely.

Air not only embodies qualities of great vitality but also universal connection.

When overwhelmed, we have all felt the need to climb up hight to feel the wind on our faces and blow away the cobwebs and burrs.

The element of Air is closely linked to breath.

In our earlier article “How to Breathe” we describe the many cross-cultural references to breath being synonymous with both Spirit and life itself.

The rate of our breathing can reflect our emotional state. When we are relaxed and calm, we breathe deeply and slowly. When we are anxious our breath can be fast, shallow, and even gulping.

When shocked or traumatised we can actually feel that our breath has been taken from us.

A panic attack often culminates in the feeling that one cannot breathe at all.

Harnessing the power of air in our own lives very often involves making our breathing conscious.

There are two practical breathing tools here on our website which help to reduce anxiety and stop a panic attack. The links are below:

Link to “How to stop a panic attack” and “How to breathe.”

All of our visualisation, meditation and mindfulness tools begin with a suggestion of taking the awareness to the breath. This brings us into the present moment and initiates connection between mind, body and spirit. It also encourages connection with the Universe.

Try this:

Find a comfortable place to sit where you will not be disturbed

This meditation works well when sitting outside in the open

Sit quietly with your spine straight

Take your awareness to your breathing

The tidal in and out of your breath

Feel the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen as the air enters and then leaves your lungs

Now allow those breaths to slow and deepen

And feel everything around you become quiet and still

Imagine that you are standing at the foot of a beautiful mountain

The end of summer is approaching, and weather is warm and balmy

The sun is high in the blue sky and a gentle breeze whispers as you make your way through the rugged grass to begin your ascent

You can hear birds of prey keening as they climb the thermal currents way above your head and the playful sound of bubbling water from the burn running down the mountain side

All is at peace and in balance

As you look down at your feet, you notice a beautiful, coloured feather.

You reach down and collect it

It reflects every colour

Iridescent in the sunlight

You begin to steadily climb

The atmosphere is warm and alive, and the exercise is exhilarating

As you reach the half-way point

You notice that the air is becoming fresher and cooler

The change is welcome

The gentle breeze has become a steady wind

Blowing away anything that has stayed with you for too long

You stop and allow the wind to blow you in all directions

As you do this you take your awareness to anything that you wish to be free of

Any old belief, outmoded thought pattern or unwanted behaviour that has outstayed its welcome

Maybe some things that were useful once but no longer serve you now

Even as you bring them into your awareness

They are immediately taken up by the air and blown away back to source

Renewing your sense of Self

Freeing you and leaving lighter

And ready to complete your ascent

As you continue to climb you notice the wind growing stronger and stronger

You marvel at its enormous energy

It buffets you in all directions

You can also see the place you left behind becoming smaller and smaller

Enabling you to see all of it

The bigger picture

Everything in its place and everything in balance

The birds-eye view

Now as you reach the top of this giant mountain you feel the wind roaring around your ears

You are almost lifted up by its strength

The view below is astonishing

You can see everything

What seemed difficult before seems logical and easy now

Like pieces if a jigsaw puzzle

As you stand and feel the full force of the wind

You take out your feather

You hold it between your fingertips and fill it with all your ideas

Your hopes

Your intentions

Your ambitions

Every seed of creativity that has expressed itself within you now comes into your awareness

Things that you have wanted to try but have been held back by fear

Breath all of them into your feather

Ready to be given life

When you are ready, let it go

Watch as the strong currents of air pick it up

Twirl it and dance with it

Higher and higher

Until it disappears

Entrusted to the Universe for right action

Now detach yourself from old feelings of disappointment

Let go of need and resentment

Know that they only block your progress

Allow yourself to soak up the energy of this great wind

To feel the steadiness of the Earth beneath your feet as you soar like the birds of prey

When you are ready

Begin to make your gentle descent

Lighter and energised

Back to full awareness with a brand-new perspective

The picture is of a sculpture by Philip Wakeham. It and many others can be seen at the Penwith Gallery in St Ives, Cornwall.

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