In our modern world it is easy to forget our connection to nature and drift away from our primal, instinctual self. We live in an age of technology where we are constantly juggling our appointments, commitments, phone calls, emails and text messages. Even when we stop to rest there are usually a dozen thoughts running around in our heads, things to remember, plans and lists. When you find yourself becoming scattered, stressed or forgetful, focusing on your breath is one of the surest ways to bring your awareness back. Fresh Air is a source of instant nourishment and as you fill your lungs with deep breaths so you connect your inner world to the outer world and return to the present moment. Air – where would we be without it?
The Four Elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air are the basis of the physical world in which we live. We are created from these elements and from the Shamanic perspective, they influence not just our physical make up, but our personalities and behaviours as well. We illustrate this every time we use an expression such as “she’s really grounded”, ” I’m burned out”, “trying to swim against the tide”, and “so airy fairy!” If we take a look at the characteristics of the elements we can begin to understand ourselves better and discover tools for self-development.
The Air Element is made up of all the gasses in our environment, the atmosphere surrounding the earth, the winds, the sky and the spaces “in between” matter. The Air Element represents the Mind; our ability to visualize, conceptualize, learn, remember and understand. Computers, the internet, mobile phones and any rapid form of communication or digital technology are all gifts from the element of Air, as is plane travel, spaceships and one day – teleport!
People who are strong in the Air Element are good communicators and are often witty, quick thinking and inventive. However too much Air can make you argumentative and overly analytical. Airy people can be quite ingenious, often coming up with brilliant ideas but when out of balance can also be spacey, impractical and vague. Air needs support from the Earth element to ground and stabilize, so remember to walk in the park or dig in the garden when you feel your feet lifting too high off the ground.
Airy people tend to say what they think and sometimes say too much. I find it a good practice to watch the clouds change in the sky and remember that although you might not be able to see the wind or your words, they both have significant effect. Take a moment to consider the way you communicate with others – is it more like a gentle breeze or an approaching cyclone?
The ability to be objective, logical and intelligent are all great gifts from the Air Element as are clarity of perception, clear communication and rapid comprehension. When these qualities are out of balance we can become too detached, judgemental or aloof. The sharpness of the mind needs the gentleness of a compassionate heart or we risk becoming cold and indifferent.
As you go about your day today, take notice of how you breathe and how it changes throughout the day. Is your breathing deep and full, quick, tight, irregular? How fully do you embrace the Air element today?
This article was written for Connect Magazine edition #80 May 2011