how to connect with nature: a meditation on the four elements

it’s no real secret if you peek around here on my website that i’m a nature lover. it’s also no secret that i’m a lover of meditation too.

nature has been a huge part of my life for as long as i can remember. from family holidays at the beach to camping in the woods on a mountain top to just running around in a backyard. the wide open sea, the wind in my hair, a campfire crackling at night, and a walk through a magical forest all touch my soul. nature connects me to myself, to others, and to the world around me. i see the cycle of life in nature, and i learn what it means to live an authentic, spirit-filled life from the trees and the flowers.

summer is the time when we have the joy of being outside the most – though i’d argue that all seasons are the perfect time to be outside. immersing ourselves in nature + exposing ourselves to the weather we remember what’s important. we remember to slow down and to soak in everything that is around us.

to say that i need nature like i need my breath would be an accurate statement.

for me, simply being in nature is meditating. there’s no need to plop down on a pillow and light a candle to meditate. just slip on some flip flops or stuff your feet in some boots, and take a walk.

observe + breathe. that is meditation.

meditation-four-elements

sometimes, though, it’s nice to do a meditation on nature. to gather some materials and symbols of nature, ponder them, and reflect on how nature inspires and nourishes us – physically + spiritually. and sometimes, we just can’t make it outside to meditate.

so, i’ve created a short meditation that you can use at any time. anytime that you miss being outside or need to connect with the physical planet. or any time you just want to honor mother nature and all of her glory. this is not a pagan, buddhist, christian, or any other religious meditation. it’s just one that i have created on my own to help me get back in touch with my inner flower child. so, if you are interested… here you go:

the four elements: a guided meditation
what you’ll need:

· pillow or mat. or a chair.

· create an elemental altar:  something that symbolizes a bird or a feather to represent air (i used a tiny paper crane). a glass or bowl of water. a candle to represent fire. a plant or a flower or fruit/vegetable, hopefully something with some dirt from the earth.

·any other religious or spiritual symbol you like to have around you when you meditate.

· instrumental music, if you wish. or you can sit in silence.

· a journal + pen, if you would like to write during or after.

what  you’ll do:

simply put, this is a meditation about the four elements: air, water, fire, and earth. it’s a chance to just sit and bring awareness to each element. one at a time. it’s a chance to let ourselves ponder each element + feel each element, noticing the things that we most likely take for granted every day. slowing down just enough to notice the sacred in the ordinary. it is a chance to reconnect with our selves, through nature.

the idea is not to empty your mind (cause that almost never happens to me!), but to simply still your mind. to slow down and to pay attention. and to let whatever feelings or revelations come + go as they wish.


Get present

first, find a good place to sit. either a chair at a table, or on the floor. or even outside, if you wish.

make your altar: place your symbols on the table or floor in front of you. line them up or make a circle. whatever feels right to you.

now, close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply + slowly. just sit there for a few minutes and let yourself land. leave behind all of the other busyness of the day and just simply be present. right here, right now. feel that you are getting in touch with yourself + with your surroundings. don’t try to empty your mind, but let your thoughts come + go, like watching a parade go by outside your window. just breathe. give yourself the gift of slowing down right now. of turning inward and tuning into your inner voice.

air

now, open your eyes and pick up your air symbol. hold it in the palms of your hands. look at it briefly, then close your eyes again, still holding your air symbol.

how does the symbol feel in your hands? what does it represent? keep holding it. feel the lightness of it. the lightness of the air all around you. do you feel any breeze? do you feel your breath moving in and out of your nostrils, filling your belly and your lungs?

perhaps air reminds us of freedom. and inspires us to fly as high as we can. where would you fly to if you could fly? how would it feel to you to soar way up in the sky?

perhaps the air can even inspire us. did you know that the word “inspire” comes from the same word that spirit comes from? and that the hebrew word ruach means breath, wind, spirit. they are all one in the same.

the air is inspiration, it is the breath of the spirit. it is the wind that keeps us alive and sweeps us up in its breeze, soaring high above where we ever thought we could be.

how high can you soar? where will the air carry you? what possibilities and dreams do you have out there?

just ponder. and breathe. let the wind carry you. the the air fill your lungs.

when you are ready, return your bird or feather back to its place.

water

now, pick up the bowl of water that you have. dip your fingers into it. submerge your whole hand, if you wish. maybe even pour some of it out on your hands or feet. interact with it.

hold the bowl in your hands. keep one finger in the bowl, if you’d like. close your eyes. and just breathe for a moment.

when you feel the water on your skin, what does it remind you of? what thoughts or memories come to you? what does water mean to you? do you enjoy being in water, or does it frighten you?

spend a few moments just soaking in your feelings and thoughts about water.

we need water in order to survive. it makes up about 70% of our bodies and about 70-75% of the earth’s surface. there’s no denying its importance. it nourishes us.

but, water can also teach us a lot about life. it is alive and flowing. think of a river, and how the water simply flows, making the adjustments it needs depending on the environment. sometimes it’s slow and lazy, sometimes it’s powerful and dangerous. but, it keeps moving forward towards its destination. it’s a never-ending journey, for once it reaches the ocean, it is then re-evaporated in to the clouds, falling once again to earth, and then flowing right back to the sea.

what can we learn from that? is there a destiny, a calling that you have? is there a purpose, or a way to live your life more authentically, true to your nature? what nourishes your dreams?

when you’re ready, return the bowl of water to its place.

fire

carefully pick up the candle and hold it in your hands. depending on what kind of candle you have, you may want to keep your eyes open. it won’t matter… staring into a flickering flame can be quite powerful and mesmerizing.

just breathe. deeply. and slowly.

imagine the flame that burns within you. the thing that is your passion. the person that you are burning to be.

for me, fire can represent our individuality. we all have a light burning within us. it is a light that connects us to each other, and yet, it is unique within each of us. this light is what transforms us, and shows us who we are created to be. it is the deep love of something or someone, the thing that sparks our soul.

what do you love? what are you passionate about? just sit with that for a while. let the answers arise from within you like the flame rising from your candle.

when you are ready, return the candle to its place.

earth

pick up your plant that represents the earth. if you have dirt with your plant, stick your fingers in it. put some in your hand.

close your eyes and hold your plant/dirt.

as much as we need to fly and be free in the air, flow like the water, and feel the passion of fire within us, we also need to be grounded.

dirt is getting back to basics. it reminds us to stay rooted. to be strong and firm, like a tree that is planted in the earth, that stands strong , even in the midst of the storm.

the earth helps us to remember our own roots, our organic and natural ways of being. this is authentic  living at its best. perhaps that’s why many of us love camping or gardening so much. we get our hands and bodies dirty. we commune with nature. we simplify and return to the earth.

feel the dirt in your plant or in your hand. breathe deeply. remember that who you are is exactly who you are supposed to be. you are strong, alive, and have everything within you to grow tall and to reach for the sky.

take some time to ponder: do you feel grounded? are you living your life true to yourself, stable and attached to your soul? do your roots go deep?

just be with yourself. reconnect. touch the ground. feel the energy pulsing in the earth. it is from here, all things grow.

when you are ready, return your plant to its place.

closing your meditation

close your eyes once again and just breathe. in and out. deeply. slowly. let the images + thoughts swirl around inside you. feel the energy that nature brings to you. and give thanks for the inspiration that you have felt.

when you are ready open your eyes and gaze at the symbols gathered before you. let them that be reminders of this meditation. but, more importantly, let them be reminders of who you are and who you are called to be.

before you return back to you daily activities, i invite you to close by rubbing your hands together vigorously so that they produce heat, then place them together in front of your heart, against your chest. breath in + out, deeply three times. then bow your head, giving thanks for this time that you have taken for yourself.

finally, enjoy this video/music as you move from meditation back into your regular routine:

if you feel like it, journal or blog your thoughts. take a photo of your little elemental altar that you used during the mediation and share it on instagram (use #fourelementsmediation). if you would like to chat further or have any questions, please email me at liz [at]belovelive dot com or leave a comment below.

i truly hope that this meditation gave you a chance to slow down and to reconnect with yourself, inspired by the wonder + beauty of nature.

namaste.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// sing to the mountain lyrics //

Let the fires burn tonight
Let the jugs of wine get drunk
Let the truth be known tonight
Don’t go let yourself hide

Go and sing to the mountain
Go and sing to the moon
Go and sing to just about everything
Cuz everything is you

Listen to the rhythm
Of your heart play like a drum
Listen to the night call
Singing songs from all around

Go and sing to the mountain
Go and sing to the moon
Go and sing to just about everything
Cuz everything is you

And let your voice go
Let it pierce through your soul
And let your voice go
Let it pierce through your soul

// week twenty four // the first peek at swedish summer

it’s monday again! and, we’ve got a short week here in sweden. friday is midsummer’s eve, so everyone will be off from work + dancing around maypoles, drinking like fish, and worshipping the sun, celebrating her longest day of the year. it’s definitely a midsummer night’s dream – and the night where the sun never really goes to bed. i’m not sure what our plans are yet (and it looks like it may rain… booooo!), but you can be sure we’ll be outside come rain or shine!

last week, though, summer finally arrived! there were days of bright sunshine, and that meant that we took advantage of every chance we could to soak it all up. i dare say that my love + i even got a little sun coloring on our skin. it felt soooooo good. all of that vitamin d. my energy level was high, my spirit was high, everyone walked around on a great big sunshine high.

so, here’s what my week looked like up here in the land of the midnight sun, where the nordic summer takes your breath away…

a little beer bottling adventure for two chicks brewing (read more about that –> here)

beer bottles two chicks brewing

the cat is sleeping all the time. it got that hot in our apartment. zola-sleeping-sunshine
strolling through our secret gardensecret-garden
lilac-tree
no socks!! green-shoes-flowers
staying grounded + inspired (mercury retrograde…. gaaah!)
meditate-candle-mala-beads
…which is necessary, when everything falls off of your bike + a BBQ sauce jar breaks + explodes everywhere in the middle of a square in the middle of town.bike-disaster
more meditating. this time in the park, on a bench. because it was hooooot + beautiful outside.me-meditate-park-bench
purple pom pom flowers!purple-flower
a skype fika date with my friend in atlanta!skype-fika-date
no jacket + sandals! happy friday to me! me-sandals-walking
beer. fries. sunshine. my love. meeting my love after work.beer-fries-outside-churchill-arms
sunshine makes us silly + giddysunshine-my-love-fun
the first BBQ of the year!bbq-grill-home
grilling out with friends + familybbq-picnic-outside-friends-uppsala
cheers to the perfect summer eveningbeer-outside-foam
mmmmm!grilling-outside-bbq
sunset at 11pm. i love this so freaking much.sunset-11-pm
urban vibes in downtown uppsalaurban-shoes-wire-downtown-uppsala
my favorite block in the whole city: svartbäcksgatanuppsala-svartbacksgatan
the river + the cathedraluppsala-river
everyone’s loving ituppsala-park
river loveuppsala-river-industrial
silos in the industrial part of townsilos-industrial-uppsala

i don’t really have any photos from sunday, but i can share with you what i did: i blogged in the morning and then the rest of the day my love + i completed season three of “orange is the new black”. it rained all day, so it was a pretty near perfect ending to the day + the week.

here’s to sending you lots of love + light as you begin your new week!

onwards + upwards!

ten on ten :: june 2015

another month is gone, and we are practically halfway through 2015. that blows my freaking mind. it’s gonna be great to have this little chronicle of one day of regular life from every month, so i can look back + see how things have (or have not) changed. hopefully, it’s fun for you, too, to see little snippets of my life.

my ten on ten for june just happened to fall on one of the first beautiful spring days we’ve had this year. yes, spring + early summer are just arriving here in sweden, which is not completely normal.

but, yesterday was great. so i was outside quite a bit. but, other than that, it was a really regular kind of day. those are good + exciting as well, you know. how great it is when we start to see the extraordinary even in the ordinary?! something i really, really try to do.

anyway, here’s my day. in 10 shots!

breakfast: swedish yogurt is to die for

breakfast

a little meditation time on the floor: my pillow time
meditate-candle-mala-beads
i didn’t mean to, but suddenly i found myself organizing the clothes in my closet. random burst of cleaning, i guess.closet-organize
time to work! emails, applications, conversations, planning, job-hunting, blogging, etc. and a cat, of course.work-zola-computer
coffee break!coffee-me
time to leave + head downtown to meet my love. and i didn’t need socks!!
toms-shoes-grass
fresh juices with my love in the sun + by the river
juice-river-uppsala
a little window shopping: found a perfume that i want badly. it would be my summer scent. but, i didn’t buy it. maybe later… hehe.
perfume
back home with a beer in the sunshine in our apartment’s little backyardbeer-backyard-sunshine
11 pm and the sun is setting.  so beautiful. so peaceful.sunset-uppsala

i really hope that your week is going well… wishing you lots of extraordinary ordinary moments! it’s almost weekend, lovelies!

onwards + upwards! xoxo