The 5 Elements of Nature & You (Part 1 – Ether & Air) [Show Notes – Ep 39]
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
Why is balancing the 5 elements of nature important?
The Ether Element (Akasha)
First, let’s dive into the ether element. Ether is the first of the 5 elements of nature. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Indian sub-continent, ether is called akasha.
Ether is probably the most difficult element for us humans to wrap our heads around. It’s the stuff in between the stuff, and the most subtle element. It’s so subtle that it cannot be seen, heard, or felt, and yet it’s all-enclosing, all-pervading, and omnipresent.
In the words of my mentor Dr. Vasant Lad, “it serves as the common factor or “home” for all objects in the universe… it is the first expression of consciousness.” So there’s a relationship to creation and creativity here. The ether element is expansive, empty, and has no resistance. So it provides us with freedom in which we can move.
The qualities (or gunas in Sanskrit) of the ether element are clear, light, subtle, soft, immeasurable, still, and spacious.
This is an element that many of us have in excess in this technical, online day in age. So much of our lives are up in the cloud and online on our computers and phones. In the ether. Therefore, it can be quite easy for us to develop an excess of ether in our lives.
When in balance a person with high ether naturally occurring in their constitution is delicate, spiritual, wise, and creative. But when out of balance an excess of the ether element might cause us to feel “spaced out.” We have a hard time focusing our attention and actions.
When we’re lacking sufficient ether in our bodies we lack creativity and inspiration. Or we feel suffocated by the weight of life.
The Air Element (Vayu)
Ether + Air (Vata)
How to Balance the 5 Elements of Nature in Your Body
Awareness & Intention
Nourish the Element in Your Life
Lastly, you can use mudras to nourish a particular element in your life. A mudra is, simply put, a sacred hand gesture or position.
The next time you’re looking at a Buddhist or Hindu (and maybe even Christian) painting or sculpture, look at the hands. You’ll notice that the hands are depicted in a very specific way, with a specific gesture, these are mudras. Or maybe in a yoga class, your instructor invited you to place your hands in a prayer position at your heart, this too is a mudra.
Each gesture of the hand has a specific meaning, and the science of mudra is vast and deep. I am a student of mudra, not an expert, but I have experienced the very real shift that mudras can inspire in our bodies.
Balancing the 5 Elements of Nature with Mudras
This graphic from theyogatree.ie can help you visualize how your fingers connect to the 5 elements of nature.
Through mudra, we can work very directly with the balance of elements in our body. Each of our fingers represents an element. How cool is that? Ayurvedic wisdom tells us that we have a little access point or a “control” for each of the five elements in our fingers! So, you can nourish or pacify each of the 5 elements of nature by practicing certain mudras.
The pinky (little) finger represents water. The ring finger represents the earth. Ether is represented by the middle finger. Air by the index (pointer) finger. And last but not least, the thumb connects to the fire element.
In order to increase the presence of an element in your body you can touch the pad (not tip, but pad) of the figure associated with the element to the finger pad of your thumb. We’ll be chatting about the fire element next week, but for now, know that the fire element governs transformation. So if we want to bring a transformation in the amount of an element in our body we want to bring fire, our thumb, to the finger representing the element that we want to increase.
You can hold this mudra while sitting in a cross-legged position, meditative position. According to my mudra training with the one and only Indu Arora, the “therapeutic dose” of mudra is 5 – 45 minutes, three times a day.
These mudras are a direct and tangible way to shift the balance of elements in your body. Sometimes I notice a shift after just a few minutes, and sometimes it takes me days or weeks of practice before I start to notice a difference. So depending on the level of imbalance you’re working with you may start to feel a shift right away or after more practice.
This Week’s Invitation: Play With The 5 Elements of Nature
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