When I’m feeling scattered, or I just want to take a moment and connect with the world around me, I like to do a centering meditation by focusing on each of the elements and how I am experiencing them within and around me.
To do the meditation, take a few deep breaths, get comfortable, and open your senses to your environment. You can keep your eyes closed or open. I tend to do both, closing my eyes to sense the element within me, but also opening them to look around and see where I find the element around me. When you feel ready, turn your focus to each of the elements, one by one.
Air. Feel the breath moving in and out of your body, the temperature of the air upon your skin, the feel of the wind as it moves around you. Hear the sounds around you, smell the smells. Are there creatures of air around you such as butterflies or birds? Feel their presence. Imagine the trees absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, sense the animals and people around you who are also breathing the same air as you are. Feel how air flows and moves through you and through everything around you. Air.
Fire. Feel the spark that keeps your heart beating, the chemical reactions taking place in the cells of your body, producing warmth and nourishment, keeping you alive. Feel the fire around you, the warmth of the sun, the chemical reactions in the cells of the plants, trees, and animals near you, their beating hearts, the flame of life in all of us. Find the fire around you, the heat, the warmth, the energy. Fire.
Water. Sense the moisture in your body, the blood flowing in your veins, the saliva in your mouth, the liquid matrix of your cells. You are flowing with water, rivers of life within you. Feel the water around you, the water in the clouds, the dew on the grass, the humidity in the air, the moisture in the soil beneath you. Reach out to any water around you—puddles, bird baths, creeks, rivers, the ocean. Feel the water flowing through the trees and plants, the fluids carrying life in all the creatures around you. Water.
Earth. Tune into the structure of your body, your bones, your teeth, the walls of your cells, the foundations that give you substance and solidity. Feel the soil beneath you, supporting you, and the rocks. Sense the trees, the wood of their trunks, feel the structure of the plants around you, the stems, the petals, the blades of grass. Sense the bones of the creatures that surround you, the underlying structure that gives them solidity, just like you. Earth.
Spirit. Sense Spirit within and around you, giving life, soul and spirit to all things. Can you feel it in yourself? Can you feel it in the world around you? How to do you sense it, this enlivening energy that moves through all things? Tap into it, feel it. Spirit.
You are centered, you are connected. Take a few more breaths, and you are finished.
This can be a relatively quick meditation to center yourself if you don’t have a lot of time, or you can really take your time with it. You can do it indoors, too, sensing the elements in everything that surrounds you: the carpet, the walls, your furniture, your pets and family. I’ve even done it while driving (obviously, I don’t close my eyes in this case!), sensing the elements as they exist in my car, in the cars and drivers around me, as well as in the landscape I am driving through. Don’t do this, of course, if you tend to trance out, but because it is more of a centering meditation, I find it generally brings me into the present moment and helps me focus.
This is also a great way to tune into the elements as they exist in different seasons. What does Air feel like in winter? What does Water feel like in summer? I recently did this meditation to tune into the elements as we move into winter, and it was interesting to discover that Water is very active in the winter here through falling rain and full, rushing rivers. However, if you live where it is very cold, you might find that Water is very still and quiet as it falls as snow, and as creeks and rivers flow sluggishly under thick layers of ice.
May you feel blessed and centered as you connect with the world around you!