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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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
no socks!! green-shoes-flowers
staying grounded + inspired (mercury retrograde…. gaaah!)
…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
more meditating. this time in the park, on a bench. because it was hooooot + beautiful
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
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
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


a little meditation time on the floor: my pillow time
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
coffee break!coffee-me
time to leave + head downtown to meet my love. and i didn’t need socks!!
fresh juices with my love in the sun + by the river
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.
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


the icon

i promise that i won’t write about writing all of the time, but i’m just so damn excited. i have never felt so motivated. but, more than that, i have never made so much progress as i have in the past 3 days. i mean, i’m glued to my table pretty much. as much as i can be without forgetting the rest of life + other responsibilities.

i just wanted to share a quick little story about something that happened today.  well, to start with, two days ago i pulled out all of my journals again, going through them to make notes on the important things that have occurred in the past 7 years. things that i wanted to be sure to include in my story. when i opened up one of them, an icon card fell out of some random place in the middle of the journal. it landed on the table beside me.

i smiled and chuckled, knowing that i hadn’t seen it, or thought of it even, in years.

i remembered immediately where i got this little icon card of jesus. it was in athens, greece. in 2007. it was in a little gift shop where orthodox priests worked during the day, just outside of a church. i remember standing in there, completely in awe of everything around me. i so wanted to buy a greek bible, but i had not taken greek, so i decided not to make that purchase. but, i was definitely going to stock up on a little icon symbolism. i had already bought a little wooden icon that had peter on it. and a powerful postcard with the virgin mary on it. i suppose i decided that it was time to buy a jesus symbol.

so, i bought this card.


my little jesus icon card has been on the table, shuffled + mixed about with all of my notecards, since it fell out of my journal two days ago. but, today, as i sat down to begin working, i noticed it, and i made the connection that i bought this card in athens, greece, right at the time that everything began to change for me. i dare say that this trip was the beginning of my journey to peace.


so, this morning, as i sipped on my first cup of coffee while standing at the window, i decided that this card would be a sort of muse for me. my inspiration. a reminder of my journey. therefore, wherever i go, wherever i work on this story of mine, i will carry the card with me. it will lay beside my computer. close by, watching over, as i write and write and write. as i journey back in my mind and in my memory, as i reflect on all that i have felt and learned, as i discover and uncover new truths.

my little jesus icon card. a symbol of my journey. my muse.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

* the meaning of the icon. first of all, icons were used art used to teach . the images told the meditators something about the christian faith. everything is symbolic in icons. in my icon, called jesus the pantocrator (greek for “almighty”) jesus is surrounded by a halo, a pretty universal symbol for holiness. in the halo are three greek letters,  ώ Ό Ν (omega, omicron, nu) meaning “the being” or “he who is”. the red and green garments are symbols of divinity and humanity, referring to the nature of the belief of jesus christ as both fully human and fully divine. his fingers are spelling out the trinity: the father, son and holy spirit. a belief of the three different manifestations of the divine. and the book symbolizes that jesus is a teacher.

for many protestant christians, icons are not used. people get all freaked out and think that if you look at an icon, you are worshipping the icon instead of who or what it represents. poppy cock, i believe. i have used icons (from all religions, of course) for years. i even taught about them when i worked in a protestant christian church. scandal! 

they are an incredible way to meditate. to simply hold your gaze onto the image and let it speak to you. there is no need to know what it all means. just to let it speak is powerful. knowing what it means just makes it all the richer of an experience. 

think of it like watching a sunset. gazing at it in awe. letting whatever feelings and thoughts come to mind. just letting yourself go… just being in the present moment. 

now you understand how i see icons. how they can speak to me. how, my little jesus icon spoke to me again today. 


six ways to love like a buddhist

i’ve stumbled onto a website recently that has tons of great articles. elephant journal is “dedicated to the mindful life.” it’s full of inspiring, thought-provoking articles that always make me slow down and ponder just a little bit. to me, many of the articles are a bit like an inspiring, informative meditation. clearly, that’s stuff that’s right up my alley.

today i ran across one that talks about ways to show your love. after the earthquake in nepal this weekend, and the refugee deaths off the coast of italy/sicily last week, and the police violence in the states that seems to be never-ending, i thought that a meditation on loving each other would be just perfect today.

so, i’m going to share with you those six ways to show love, with the hope that we all find a way to spread a little peace and love and encouragement to someone today. if we feel overwhelmed by the pain + suffering in the world, and feel that we can’t make a difference in the places that there is great suffering + violence, at least we can make a difference in the midst of our life.

love encourage


how often do we give for just the sake of giving, expecting nothing in return? generosity is an offering, a sacrifice, a completely selfless act in the hopes of simply doing something for another. not expecting a gift in return or even an expectation of how things should be. we let go of our egos, put away our pride, and rely on the sacred place within us to guide us to just give love. no take backs. or perks. or rewards. just love.


in other words mindfulness. yes, living a mindful life is one that shows love to others, though we usually think of mindfulness as a private act. practicing loving mindfulness means that we are present, aware, and completely at peace with who we are + where we are. we give full attention to the present moment, and all of those who are around us. once again, there is no egoistic need to be the center of everything, but we simply, slowly, lovingly experience what it is happening right now. we discipline ourselves to just be.


how well do we control our emotions? that is, we feel them and sit with them, but we don’t fly off the handle at any moment. patience allows us to slow down + take a breath. it means that we don’t need to be right, that we listen, that we meet people where they are, even if we don’t agree with them. when we can give someone else space and allow them to be exactly who they are, then we are willing to wait a bit. we may not understand, but we accept. and when that safe place is created, then we can be of influence and help to someone. but, not, as the ones who know what is best, only as one who cares to journey with someone. patience doesn’t mean that we are right and someone else is wrong. it simply means having an accepting, loving, and calming nature. only when there is patience, can we begin to have meaningful discussion.


this is where the rubber hits the road. this is where we acknowledge that reality sometimes sucks. but, instead of staying in that place of sucky-ness, we realize that there is work to be done. diligence means that we show up, we dig in, we do the work that has to be done. and we do it with a positive, grateful attitude. or at least not an attitude of “poor me”, “this sucks”, “why me?”, or “look at how hard i work”.  no, diligence is once again, a selfless, determined way of living. of knowing that not everything is rainbows and puppy dogs, but of trusting in the knowledge that there is world to be done, and that we have a higher purpose: to co-work to make our lives + this world a better place. so, with power + strength from within, we get to work. and we do not give up.


again, we tend to think that this is a selfish, internal act. but, meditation is the foundation of learning how to live a life of love. the benefits of going inward every single day allow us to take care of our selves, our mind and our soul. and, when we feel peace, then we spread peace. it’s as simple as that. of course it’s great to meditate for 10-20 minutes every day, but even a minute or two here or there brings us back to our center – a great thing to do when we feel stress, fear, confusion, sadness. you know, if we do not create a safe, calm space for ourselves, then we will definitely not be able to create that space for others. if we pull ourselves inward, breathe deeply, chant, pray, or just sit; and if we do it on a regular basis, then the love will naturally flow.

transcendental knowledge

all of life is connected. and how we treat others is how we treat ourselves, and vice versa. compassion + love isn’t just being kind and friendly and accepting everyone and everything. it’s much more than that. it’s about truth.

when we are open, we are able to be truthful. we lovingly stand up for what is right, even if it is hard to do. we say the tough things, but we say them in love. we create harmony, but we create really harmony, not just a “if we don’t don’t about it everyone will be happy” kind of harmony. i mean deep, true, real harmony. we don’t avoid, but face head on what is really going on. and we ar able to do that without losing hope because we are grounded and secure and have let go of our need for attachment and ego-stroking. real love is telling the truth, casting a vision, believing in hope, and doing it all with warmth + kindness flowing from your soul.

this is the love that heals, and transforms, and brings peace.

i know that some of these 6 things i am way better at than others. i have more to learn + work to do. but, it is my hope, my desire to dig deeper and to discover new ways that i can spread love in my own special way, using the passions and experiences and gifts that i have been given. in this messed up, crazy world, we need all the love we can get.

here’s to wishing you a beautiful week, friends.

onwards + upwards!

you can find the original article from elephant journal –> here.