April 25, 2011 Tuesday Afternoon on the Beach, Emerald Isle

We start with the earth element, sand, earth. Connect yourself down into the earth. Take a handful of sand. Feel it in the body. I'm going to be quiet for about 2 minutes. I want you to find that part of you that is earth. This is literally part of the physical body and the energy system. See if you can isolate the earth element in your body. It may feel hot or cold. Volcanic lava is the earth element, frozen earth is the earth element. Soft sand is earth element, rock is earth element. So don't look for a special texture, just become aware of the texture of the earth element in yourself.


Now move your attention to the water, to the sound of the waves breaking, sounds of the ocean. Open the eyes and look out at the ocean, and feel the water literally moving through your own body, not just as blood in the veins but the water in each cell. Again, feel the texture of the water. Is it free flowing or sluggish, light or heavy, hot or cold? Just bring awareness to the experience of the water element in your body.


Now, let's play for a moment with just these two elements. If the earth element felt dry or heavy, mix some water with it. Explore what happens when you change the balance of earth and water...What you can see with just 2 elements is limited, so just a brief exploration: what happens when you add water to the earth element.


Often you can feel this balance in the bowels, noting if the 2 elements are equally balanced. If the bowels are a bit heavy, maybe add more water... It is not always evidenced in the outflow of the bowels, but you can often feel it in the belly.


I said we were going to go through the basic review quickly. Almost all of you have done this with me before. Earth element, water element; add the fire element. Feel the sun on your body. As the sun beats down, can you see the use to invite more free-flowing of water element in the body to keep it cool? If the body feels heavy, like dry dirt, baking, the water element will loosen it.

You will notice that as you change the balance of the elements, you can either release some of one element or more or add some of another element.


And finally, the air element. Notice the faint breeze that blows past you.


The balance is constantly changing, this body experiencing heat, then the breeze cooling it, always inviting balance.

Now be aware of space. (pause)

There is an element, akasha, as in the akashic records, the records stored in the akasha level of being. I'm going to skip akasha for now. We'll get back to it later in the week. I want you to work with and understand the balancing of these basic elements, and how this can help you when there is restlessness, or tiredness, or agitation, when there is some unbalanced state that shows up in the emotional body.

Each element responds to the other elements and comes into balance with each of the other elements. Thus, the earth energy may be very balanced, but as the sun beats down, the earth energy picks up too much fire, comes out of balance a bit. You can then release some of the fire energy or add some air or water energy. What's needed to bring it into balance?

It's an intuitive issue. I cannot tell you, "Add 3 parts of this and 5 parts of that," you have to feel it for yourselves and play with it. You can do it in the meditation hall, of course, but it's easier to do it out here where the elements are so accessible.

Basically I'm summarizing here in a half hour what we may have done for 3 or 4 days in a past year. I know a few of you may be newer to this, but I think if you practice, you'll get it. I want to move on, as the days pass, into new material and not just stay here. Those who would benefit may read past year's notes on the Deep Spring web site.

I'd like you now to think of an emotion. It may be an earth-heavy emotion like sluggishness. It may be an emotion like agitation, anger. Anger has a lot of fire energy in it. Sleepiness has very little fire energy in it, but sleepiness may also be lacking in air and water, may be very earth-heavy. Sadness is often a mix of earth and fire together without much water or air. Agitation; restless mind, a lot of fire and not much grounding.

We're going to have time for a few questions, then I'm going to ask you to sit, ideally near the ocean. If you can sit where the tops of the waves just touch your feet on occasion, that's fine. If you'd prefer not to get wet, you can sit back a little ways, but feeling the water might be helpful. You don't have to sit chest-deep in the water.

What I want you to do is bring forth one emotion, mind or body state that's a frequent visitor, maybe doubt or agitation, sleepiness, grasping. Start with the loving intention to invite balance for the highest good of all beings. This is not a "let's fix me" project, but rather, opening to that which is already whole and balanced for the highest good of all beings. If there's a "fix it" thought, you might want to use that thought. Is the "fix it" thought fire-heavy? Fire and earth may be volcanic lava. What is "fix it"? Just begin to investigate that.

Pick one frequent visitor for now rather than moving from one experience to another. As you sit there by the water experiencing all of the elements, what helps this particular emotion or body texture come into better balance? What brings you more into a centered space?

It's important to recognize that any imbalance of the elements comes from the ego self. Pure awareness is always balanced. If you're in a deep space of pure awareness, you will not find any imbalance, but when you take that "finger" that's fully within the ultimate realm and just touch into relative reality, you may find certain imbalance there in this personal self.

It's helpful to rest in pure awareness, but these heavy emotions don't usually come when you're resting in pure awareness, they come when you've lost touch with pure awareness. So the practice is not to move your self into pure awareness but to balance the elements in such a way that it's easy to open back up into pure awareness, but always with that finger touching into the personal self, just a finger on the element pulse of the personal self. (this "finger" comes from Aaron's talk on relative and ultimate reality, with boxes that represent these, and a small teddy bear, either in one or the other, or touching both.)

So I'd like you to spend about 15 minutes doing this and then we'll come back and talk. Are there any questions? This is a precursor to what I will do with you on the afternoons the rest of this week.

It's also simply a handy tool to bring into the meditation hall and to daily life and to remember, when there's a lot of agitation, restlessness, sluggishness, doubt-- "Ah, this is in part related to unbalanced elements, and on the relative level the elements can be unbalanced. On the ultimate level, they're never unbalanced. But I'm not simply going to go into awareness to avoid the imbalance. Rather, I am going to attend to this right here in this mind and body." Because in doing so, you release karma. You release the habitual patterns that you've carried for so long, each of you different: closing up, being too spacey, floating away, burning away. So it helps you to release that karma, literally, balance it.

Okay, if there are no questions, I simply invite you to go and sit by the water, as close as you are comfortable sitting; literally in the water, if you wish, or near the water.

(They sit. Most are sitting partially in the water, with surging waves that come up to toes or even waist on occasion)

Barbara: We have just done this exercise for about 25 minutes. I want to invite sharing, what people's experiences were.

(sharing not transcribed)

Barbara: I've been very tired the past few weeks, low energy, so I decided to look at that. I realized as I was sitting there, the sun beating down on my back, that I was pulling back away, not allowing the fire element in. I conceptually realized, after 6 weeks of frequently recurrent fever (earlier this spring), that I was pulling away from fire element. But now the fever is healed – it's been a month now – and I'm not allowing enough fire element into the body. I saw that it was not that I was stopping the fire element but that I was putting it out immediately with water and air and dropping it into the ground. It was not a lack of fire element so much as all the other elements lacked fire element, that I was not allowing the fire element to mix with the other elements, inviting them into the body. Eventually as I paid attention to it, it balanced.

I was watching my arms. I've had tendonitis running down my whole arm. I've been doing physical therapy for my shoulders, which is helpful, I can move my arms now, and strength is returning, but the arms are painful, especially when my arms are still and the tendons are literally afire. I began to watch what happened when I brought more air and water element into the tendons, could see how heavy the arms, the tendons were, like volcanic lava, heavy, hot, grounded. Just relaxing and letting the arms flow over the water.

And then eventually sitting there after all of this, eyes open, watching the waves, watching all the elements, basically doing dzogchen practice, the whole body just dissolved into this vast spaciousness. There was no more anybody doing element practice or anything of the sort, there was nobody there, the whole body dissolved. And it was very beautiful. And now my arms don't hurt!

Then Aaron reminded me it was time to come back and sit here. I think I could have sat there until dark, just relaxed in that space.

Okay, it's quarter of 4. We'll end here...

I think if I had continued sitting there with that experience of body dissolution, there was not full ego dissolution but there was body dissolution, there was no body there, if I had closed my eyes at that point and just brought attention to the vast luminosity I was seeing as a primary object, there also would have been strong ego dissolution. There was still some sense of somebody sitting there doing this, although there was nobody holding that somebody, but I think moving into vipassana at that point, the whole structure of self would have simply washed away with the first wave, leaving this empty body sitting there, and very peaceful, very joyful. Don't know what would come next.