In an important sense all magic is meditation: Meditation is simply focusing the mind and magic is focusing the mind with intent. This short meditation/ritual combines aspects of CEM, Focusing and 'magic' to great effect. The core principle is that expressing deep appreciation and gratitude for what you already have will attract more of the same - a principle I learnt from the shaman Jade Wahoo Grigori.
The meditation is very simple: You turn to each Elemental Quarter, bring related 'strawberries' to mind and then give out thanks for all the joy that comes to you from that Elemental energy. For example, when I turn to the east, the quarter I associate with Air, I think of 'air' strawberries like flying, clouds, eagles and mountains. I use Focusing to get a felt sense of the Element. This gets my endorphins flowing and creates a strong embodied connection with the Element. Then I give thanks for my 'air' strawberries and things like books, music, e-mail, my computer working properly, good conversation, clear breathing, clear communication, etc, etc. When it feels right, I turn to the south and honour Fire in the same way, then Water and Earth. The whole ritual takes about 5 minutes and feels wonderful!
This meditation will also strengthen your relationship with the Elements and because the Elements resonate with our human qualities, bringing them into balance helps you become a more rounded person. The meditation is especially helpful if you to focus on those Elements which have qualities you currently lack. If you don't feel heard, spend more time honouring Air. Lack confidence? Focus on the energy of Fire. Emotionally blocked? Open yourself to the flowing power of Water. Or if you feel ungrounded, be with the solid strength of Earth.
Don't worry if you're not familiar with the idea of Elements; for our purposes, it's really quite simple. Air is traditionally understood as expressing communication and the qualities of the mind. Fire can be understood as the essence of energy, courage and passion. Water is manifest in emotion in general, but most especially love. Earth is our groundedness, the physical world and the body.
Spirit is the dance of the four Elements in perfect harmony. As you balance the aspects of yourself and your world you become more in harmony with Spirit. In the meditation I include the powers of Above and Below, which aren’t strictly Elements, but are used in shamanic paths and I feel that they make the meditation as a whole more rounded. I also honour the space I am in, the genius loci. When I'm at home that's all the beings who share the space with me and my local community; when I'm away I honour the spirit of that place.
Treat this meditation like dance, not a formula. Try it a couple of times as I've set it out below and then try adapting it to suit your own style. I often use a singing bowl but it’s not at all essential and the meditation works beautifully without it.
The Elements Within
You breathe air to live. Air is all around you. As you breath in, you become one with air. This is one reason why breathing is so central to meditation practice; it is a physical expression of the connectedness of all things. (See Alan Watts' book on meditation).
Similarly, there is fire within you. Your nerves are sparking electrical energy constantly and your body chemistry is burning carbohydrates to keep you alive. Fire is within you and fire is outside you, but they are the same Elemental power.
You are connected to all that is; any apparent division is a product of our Western way of understanding ourselves as ‘individuals’, separate, split off. But that is an illusion, and the Elements meditation can bring a deeper awareness.
At the level of the deep body there is no division between you and the Elements. You are an ‘earthbody’. Like the sound of the singing bowl, which resonates out from its edge into the world, your expanded self echoes beyond all boundaries.
Before the Meditation
Decide for yourself which direction represents each Element. There's some debate on this, most of it pointless except as a way of understanding that the Elements are actually all around and within us: What's really important is what makes sense to you.
We often use the term ‘visualize’ in our magical and spiritual work. This implies that you will see whatever it is, but many people – probably a majority – find it very hard to see something in the minds eye. Don’t get hung up on this idea and remember that the other senses are at least as important. If it helps, think of visualization as ‘sensualisation’. This emphasis on vision is a common cultural mistake that's obvious in the language we often use; ‘I see what you mean’, ‘seeing is believing’, ‘out of sight, out of mind’, etc. It’s very important to shift this attitude, both personally and culturally, so whenever you ‘visualize’ use all your senses. If you can, see whatever it is in your minds eye, but also try to hear it, smell it, touch and even taste it. Smell is the most powerful intuitive sense, so do try and use it in your visualizations. You may have noticed that when we sense something intuitively we often say we ‘smell a rat’ or ‘something's fishy’.
Stand in the center of the space you're working in. Relax. Take a few deep breaths and center yourself. Mark the start of the meditation with a single strike on the edge of the singing bowl and begin to play it as you turn to the first direction. I'd recommend you build in a three-quarter turn as it helps you focus.
Let the bowl sing to each direction as an offering to the Element. Try to open yourself to the Element, connect with it. Visualize the Element in a large form (e.g. a raging volcano or ocean), then in a small form (a candle flame or drop of rain). Become aware of the power of the Element with all your senses.
Then sense the Element as it is in your body and feel the dance between the Element ‘out there’ and the Element within you. They are of course, the same: 'Thou art that'. Open yourself to the Element. Connect with it. If you know how to use Focusing, try to get a felt sense of the Element.
Become aware of your relationship with that Element: How is the Element present in your life? What do you love about it? Bring to mind those moments that you really love (your strawberries) that are related to the Element. This will stimulate the production of endorphins which help to loosen up your body and attract whatever it is you are focusing on. It also feels great!
Before you turn to to the next Element rest from circling the bowl for a moment and bow gently.
I've found this sequence works particularly well: Visualizing the Element in a large form, then in a small form and then as it is in your body leads your awareness from a connection with the Element at its most dramatic to a deeply personal understanding. However, this is an honouring of your relationship to the Element so express to whatever you feel. You might weave in other strands: If you work with the Chakras, focus on how the Element relates to one or more of them. In practice you'll probably find the different aspects merge or repeat: Visualising the Element may be a strawberry for you, and sensing the Element in your body is of course connecting with a Chakra. Let the meditation flow, play with it and - most important! - enjoy it.
Turn to each Element in turn to greet, honour and connect with it:
Now honour the space around you, connect with it and bring mind those in your local community. Just as the sound of the singing bowl spreads into space, concentric rings of sound vibrating out from the edge, so your awareness can expand beyond the edge of your physical body. Your awareness is the striker that makes the body resonate and sing to the world.
Then breathing in, raise the bowl above your head with one hand and honour that which is Above; sense your connection with it. Breathing out, bring the bowl down to touch the ground, drawing down the energy of Above into your body.
As you touch the ground honour that which is Below, and sense your connection with it. Breath in and sense the energy of Below drawing up into you as you raise the bowl and touch your forehead with your hand.
Finally, hold the bowl at your hara (just below your navel) and strike it gently to honour Spirit, all that is. Sense that you are Spirit, you are all that is. Say a big generous 'Thank-you' with your whole being and give a gentle bow.
This meditation can help remind you that you are one with all that is. Words cannot teach you this reality. It can only be experienced.
© Adrian Harris 2004.