Let The Elements Unite

The other day I got very angry. This happens to me on occasion. Much less frequently than it used to but more often than I wish it would.

A fury that begins from my feet goes right up through my central nervous system with steam collecting in the top of my head. A potent and loud froth of words then releases through my mouth.

This process sometimes hurts people I am close to and that leads to a cycle of remorse.

I have spent many years…and dollars…trying to figure out what causes this process and I am getting closer but my fury is in no way completely extinguished.

One of the many ways yoga teachers describe the body is through the elements of earth, water, fire, air and space. A rough topography…the earth element is manifest in the feet and legs of the body. Water swishes in the pelvis, fire abodes in the solar plexus, air rises from the top of the heart through the throat and up to the third eye. Space opens the third eye to the crown of the head.

This way of construing the constitution also describes principles of psychology and it is through this bodyscape that I am beginning to understand my own hot headedness.

I have a lot of earth and fire in my being. I am steadfast and passionate. But I am out of proportion in the more fluid transitional elements of water, air and space.

My anger cycle suggests that a situation will unground me and instead of diffusing it, I let it go straight to the gut where it turns into a fireball and like a California wildfire the atmospheric conditions are sometimes just right for it to spread. And, the element of space is not always balanced enough to stop its progression.

As I come to understand this systematic operation I am beginning to choose asana, pranayama and meditation techniques to harmonize the elements.  More seated postures, twists, attention to the tightness in the throat and jaw, nadi shodana and mindfulness meditation combined with mantras and mudras seems to help. These all bring more balance to my water, air and space elements. The techniques also help me to write and imagine more and be more careful about the words I chose when communicating.

And, I’m also trying to jump more so that my fire can be burned off on my mat rather than on the field of friendship.

As I observe anger through this inner vista I can get closer to the core of its origin and begin to rid myself of its destructive ways…reminding myself, with a healthy dose of lovingkindness, that samskaras run deep and take lots of work to erase.

–Brette Popper

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