The Natural World
Foundations of Practice
These foundations will be the cornerstones of the work you do each month. As with any endeavor discipline, structure and practice will produce the greatest results. As the months progress, other foundational practices may be added to these. As you progress through the work, not only will you be able to be more inclusive in your approach to the work, but what started as the foundations of growth will evolve and change in accord with your newly developed skill set and level of understanding. Whenever something new is added it will be noted within the study for that month.
The initial foundational work includes:
* Breath Work
Using a single page for each of the elements, at the top of the page write the element's name. As you move through this month's lessons spend some time free associating the words that come to mind when you think about that particular element. Just keep a running list; don't worry about structuring into sentences, etc.. As you move through the month, it will be interesting to see how many words you have under each element. Which elements(s) have the most or least and how your perception may have broadened from the start of the lesson to its conclusion.
Four-Fold Breath Technique
Continue the practice of the four-fold breath as we began in Lesson One. Now, as you move through the breathing patterns connect the various components of the practice with our study of the elements:
With intent and focus (FIRE)- breath (AIR) fills your lungs and body (EARTH) and your mind and heart (WATER) open to a higher awareness (SPIRIT)
Begin by sitting in a quiet, comfortable setting.
Focus your attention on the rhythm of your breath. As you begin to feel your body relax focus your attention more fully on your breathing.
Take a full deep breath- inhaling for a moderate count of 1-2-3-4
Hold this breath for a moderate count of 1-2-3-4
Exhale for a moderate count of 1-2-3-4
Hold at the completion of exhalation for 1-2-3-4
You may continue to breathe in this manner for several sets of the four. Eventually, your breath will establish its own rhythm and attention to counts will not be necessary.
Tips: Try to maintain an even steady rhythm of in-flow and out-flow. This allows greater ease of holding at the fullest point of expansion and holding again once the breath has been expelled.
Do not be surprised if the first few attempts bring inability to hold at the peak and base of release and intake for the full 4 counts. Depending on the state of relaxation and possibly any additional pre-existing respiratory conditions, you may fond this difficult at first.
Usually, after several times of practice and with each practice any rhythm, flow or relaxation issues decrease and then generally fade. Remember, for some this may be a new type of physicality and awareness of breathing that is normally left on “auto-pilot” as we go through our day.
Observing Your World:
Sitting outside on a warm, sunny day. Pick something in your eye line to observe and focus your attention on:
AIR: What thoughts does this observation bring to mind? Are you thinking about this observation in a state of rational mind or just simply allowing the varied thoughts to present themselves in whatever manner they wish?
FIRE: What action is inspired by what you are observing? What action is taking place as you are observing? Does it make you want to join in, continue to sit and observe or walk away?
WATER: What feelings arise as you watch the scenario unfold? What emotions are prominent and what emotions are you holding back?
EARTH: What is the physical setting and concrete reality of what you are observing? What would some descriptions be in creating a solid picture as you retell the scene?
SPIRIT: Think about the range of experience you have had in your period of observation moving through mind-will-heart and physicality. Now, create a synthesized perspective of your experience. Use all of the elements in a way that reflects the story with the most clarity. Reflect on both the positives and negatives you observed and then try to balance them in a way that provides a clear, concise interpretation. This final synthesis is the action of Spirit- coalescing and combining those necessary components of each of the four foundational elements to create the more refined essence of their sum total.
For at least one full week each day make a note of one thing new that you observe that you never noticed before. It can be something as trivial as noting how long a light takes to change or something more covert such as the first bud of a flower or plant. Each day try to “see” something new. Becoming more aware of the little details that cross your path each day, you become more aware of the interconnectedness of all things. You will also more clearly see what effect you may have on that minor detail, or how it may effect you in ways you were unaware of previously. Be sure to record your experiences in your journal.