By Nischala Joy Devi.
Deepen your connection to the earth and find new ways to care for her.
I have a fond memory from some years ago of accompanying my teacher Sri Swami Satchidananda, one of the 20th century’s great yoga masters, on a walk in the park. I was one of three people walking behind him and I was enjoying the beauty of the day and the feel of the soft, slightly damp grass under my feet. Realizing that many creatures were living in the earth beneath my feet, I was aware that my actions could be causing harm to them. As I was thinking about this, I noticed that as Swamiji lifted his foot before taking the next step, the grass perked back up. Looking back at the grass I had just stepped on, it was flat. Curious to see if it was the same for my companions, I glanced over at the others, who were also flattening the grass as they walked across it.
Perplexed, the three of us approached Swamiji “Why is it,” we asked, “that when you walk on the grass it stands back up when you lift your foot, while the grass under our feet stays pressed to the earth?” A sweet, reverent expression came to his face, and he put his hand on his heart. “I have reverence for the earth and she knows it,” he said. “When I walk on her I feel I am walking on my mother’s bosom.”
I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand what happened that day, but the incident illuminated for me how deeply you can alter your consciousness to love and respect the earth. Even now as I walk through the park or on the grass, I am conscious that the earth is my Mother.
Today, it seems almost everyone is aware of how human activity is harming our planet. You’re probably already doing many practical things to try to reduce your impact: recycling, driving less, buying “green” products, and so forth. If you want to go deeper, you can begin a practice of cultivating gratitude and reverence for the earth. As that moment with Swamiji suggested, when your actions are fueled by an inner heart-centered consciousness, you can affect the larger world in innumerable positive ways.
Feel the connection
Too often, the habits of our everyday lives tend to cut us off from the earth. Yet the reality is that we are intimately joined to her. We are not just living on the earth, we are the earth—our bodies, after all, are made up of 70%TK water!
Focusing your attention on the everyday gifts that nature gives you can help you cultivate reverence. In my own life, just placing my feet on the floor to connect with the earth first thing in the morning fills me with gratitude. Splashing warm water on my face connects me to the water that flows all over the planet. Drawing air deeply into my lungs as I glimpse the first rays of the sun brings a sense of joy, because fire, air, and prana have united in me. In those first moments of waking I feel a deep connection and gratitude to the Earth. When we remember these connections with gratitude we can experience groundedness, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of abundant well being.
There are other connections, as well. The yogic tradition views the world as consisting of five elements: earth, air, water, fire, and ether. Five of the chakras—whirling vortexes of energy in our subtle bodies—are considered to be direct reflections of those elements. One way to create a deeper sense of oneness with Mother Earth is by consciously choosing to take in energy from the elements of nature, while focusing on the chakras that correspond to the physical elements of the larger world.
When you do this, you draw the subtle energy of the element—be it (KEEP THE ORDER THE SAME-earth, water, fire, air, or ether—into the corresponding chakra within yourself. As you do this, you are strengthening and enhancing your own chakras, as well as teaching yourself to experience more deeply that there is no separation between us and the planet; we are all truly one. As the Chandogya Upanishad says, “The essence of all beings is earth.”
Muladhara Chakra corresponds to the Earth Element, which motivates you to attend to the basics of survival: food, clothing, shelter. When connected with earth, you feel grounded, confident. When disconnected you may experience fear or depression. To connect, stand on the earth without shoes and imagine roots coming out of the bottom of your feet going deep into the earth, drawing energy into your whole body. This will help you feel that you are part of the earth and she is part of you.
Swadhisthana Chakra relates to the Water Element, which directs the flow of emotions, passions, and creativity that bring harmony or disharmony with yourself and others. Tap into this energy by soaking in a natural hot spring or enjoying healing water in your own personal bathtub or shower. Let the water purify your body, mind, and emotions.
Manipura Chakara mirrors the Fire Element. Your power, intellect, and vitality, which relate to your place in the world and your sense of self-esteem, are fed by fire. Like a tree, you absorb the sun’s heat and transform it, using it to warm your body and ignite your intellect. Standing on the earth, stretch your arms and head upward and absorb the fire element; let it illuminate your entire being with happiness. Connecting to the fire element you are enhancing your power, intellect, and vitality.
Anahatha Chakra reflects the Air element. The air that you breathe inspires compassion, intuition and love. The plants of the earth take in your carbon dioxide and give you pure oxygen. Preserving them means they preserve you. Standing on a hilltop, allow the power of the wind to embrace you. Breathe deeply as you feel life throbbing through you, empowering the heart to flow with intuition, compassion and love.
Vishuddha chakra consists of the Ether Element. The essence of your being, is ether or prana, or life force. Deep breathing unites earth and heaven within you, bringing you a feeling of freedom. Through breath and an openhearted reverence, prana and the spirit unite in gratitude and love for all.
Getting in touch with the earth in these ways can also remind you of the enduring strength of the natural world. When the reality of pollution and destruction seems overwhelming, this perspective can give you hope.
After a time, the communion of your body, mind, and emotions with the earth will bring a shift in your inner and outer worlds. It will help each of us find ways to heal Mother Earth. And with the healing of Mother earth, we, her children are healed. As William Wordsworth said, “Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher.”
NISCHALA JOY DEVI is the author of The Healing Path of Yoga and The Secret Power of Yoga. To learn more about her teachings, go to nischala.wpengine.com
Light up the world
Sit quietly as you take in a few deep inhalations and let them out very slowly.
Allow the breath to return to normal observe it as it slowly flows in and out.
Bring your awareness to the light in your heart, where the Divine spirit resides.
With each inhalation observe the light in the heart brighten.
On the exhalation, allow that light to flow out to the earth as love.
Allow the light to expand till it becomes the size of the heart; the whole body; and then let it fill the entire room.
As you inhale, the light brightens; on the exhalation, light flows to the world as love.
Allow the light to expand beyond the room and embrace each flower, tree, plant, and animal.
Let your love fill the streams, lakes, rivers and oceans, until it merges with the very core of our mother earth.
Absorbing this love offering, she makes this healing energy available to all, soothing the entire world.
Slowly and gently begin to bring your awareness back to your own heart.
From now on, with every heartbeat, light and love are sent out as a wish of peace for all.