The primary suggestion for today’s practice is that it be practiced outdoors. If the weather in your area does not allow for an outside venture, certainly you may conduct the moves and meditation indoors: However, when you have an opportunity, today’s routine benefits greatly from breathing and moving in Nature.
Over the course of the past week, there has been a strong upsurge in global activism concerning climate change. Our planet has been suffering for far too long, due mostly to the ignorance and inconsideration of we humans who inhabit the Earth. I certainly have been part of the problem, as I drive and use plastic regularly: slowly, but surely, however, the Earth’s woes are beginning to resonate on a deeper level than that of intellect. Thus, today I offer a practice designed to connect one’s personal energy to that of the Earth; and then to guide the Earth energy into its rightful place in Universal Consciousness.
First, it is helpful to recall that our physical inner environment carries the element of Earth (along with Water, Metal, Fire, and Wood, vis-a-vis Traditional Chinese Medicine). By way of the Stomach and Spleen organ systems, our “earthiness” plays out physically and mentally. As described in the excellent book, Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine: “Receiving and sharing solid and liquid, perceptions and ideas, the [Earth organs] incorporate food and experience into the substance of who we are.”
The description goes on to identify Earth as a “Peacemaker” archetype: “Focusing on what is mutually shared, she synthesizes what is divided and antagonistic into what is unified and interdependent.” If one thinks of the state of Earth’s societies and cultures, or of the physical planet Earth, a first thought inevitably must be of its fractured state; certainly, those of us who live on the Earth, and the Earth itself, could use a dose of peacemaking and union.
So, when you have chosen an outdoor space for today’s practice, spend a few minutes breathing deeply and sensing your physical stance on the ground. Then begin to open your awareness to the sensation of the air on your skin: temperature, breeze, sun, etc. Finally, expand your hearing to move beyond the immediate ambient sounds: Hone in on the highest tones and hums that fill the atmosphere far beyond the place in which you stand.
Now, having aligned yourself with both your specific location, as well as the extensive scope of Earth as it relates to the Universe, begin to stoke your inner environment as you charge the air around you. First, practice Miracle Bend: Inhale to raise the arms overhead; exhale as you bend forward to touch the ground. Bend your knees as much as you need, in order to contact the Earth with your open palms. Inhale back up, arms overhead, slightly bending backward, gazing at the sky; exhale again into the forward bend. Continue inhaling up, exhaling down, for 3 minutes. Move as slowly as you need to, so that the body begins to warm and ease; remain conscious of your natural surroundings as you move and breathe.
After the final inhale-up in Miracle Bend, stand quietly, eyes closed, hands on hips: Breathe deeply and steadily for a few breaths. Then, begin to circle the torso clockwise; again, move slowly at first if you like, gradually increasing the pace and circumference of your full torso circles. Continue in this direction for 2 minutes, then reverse directions for another 2 minutes.
Next, extend the arms out to the sides at shoulder level. With the palms facing forward, create Rudra Mudra on both hands, which will help to soothe and balance the body’s Earth element (found in the stomach and spleen). On each hand, touch the thumb, index, and ring fingertips together. With the arms starting at shoulder level, inhale: Then, exhale as you tilt the arms to the right; the right arm lowers about 30-45 degrees, the left arm rises, so that the arms remain in line with each other. Inhale back up to center, and exhale the arms to the left. The body remains upright as the arms see-saw up and down in the side space. Continue for 3 minutes.
With these three movements, you have cleared and energized your surrounding magnetic field. Further, you have initiated a connection between your inner Earth system and that of the physical planet. The synergy of clearing, energizing, and connecting act as a Siren song to the Universe; its vibration becomes eager to resonate with your human physical being, as well as with the broader energy field of the Earth.
Having established optimal conditions for meditation upon the needs of the planet, sit in your favorite position on the ground. If you like, you may use a blanket; however, the more direct contact you have with the earth’s “skin,” the better. To begin, place the left hand on the Heart center; the right hand reaches down to rest on the ground, palm down.
With eyes slightly open, gazing down at the tip of the nose, breathe deeply; inhale through the nose for a count of 4-6; exhale through rounded lips for the same count. Then, inhale through the open O mouth; exhale through the nose, using the same or slightly longer count. Continue this version of alternate breathing–in, nose; out, mouth; in, mouth; out, nose–for 2 minutes. Once you have established steady, complete breaths, you may choose to drop the counting.
Finally, place both hands on the knees, palms up. Create Gyan Mudra: thumb and index fingertips touching on each hand, other three fingers together and straight. With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, inhale; at the peak of your inhale, open the mouth wide. Allow your exhale to become the Universal sound of “Aum” (Om); as the sound flows out of you, slowly close the mouth.
Special note: If you feel self-conscious “Aum-ing” outdoors, you may try a long, whispery Aum. Be sure, however, to open the mouth wide before you chant, and then slowly close the mouth as the sound vibration flows and finishes.
Continue to chant, filling the air around you with the Universal vibration. In this state of aligning and uniting with the Whole, retain a sense of physical rootedness. Feel secure in your firm grounding on and with the Earth, while allowing an elevated sense of trust and connection to permeate within and without.