Working Together With All the Elements in Partnership and Deep Communion
Elemental Purification Breaths
From the Sufi tradition as originally taught by Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan. This interpretation with body awareness attunements by Neil Douglas-Klotz (Murshid Saadi Shakur Chishti). With each element, add breathing in the Sufi wasifa “Ya Shafi” (Source of Healing) and breathing out “Ya Kafi” (the most Necessary, the Remedy for the moment).
EARTH: Inhale nose, exhale nose. Focus on rootedness, the feeling of support of the earth through the bones and ligaments. Standing, siting, lying or walking, ask inside: “how do I feel my support? Could I feel more supported anywhere?” Release “burdens,” let the earth support. Honor all creation by feeling the bones of our ancestors, upon which we walk. As we deeply receive the gifts of the earth, earth as a living being becomes more conscious through us.
WATER: Inhale nose, exhale mouth. A spring rises from the depths and is drawn up through you to the top, then showers down, over and through all the muscles, connective and digestive tissue--anywhere more flexibility is needed. Stretch and move into any areas of tightness. Consider: “how could I allow more flowingness to be felt there, less holding on?” Honor the water by feeling it return to its source with purity. As we deeply receive the gifts of the water, water as a living being becomes more conscious through us.
FIRE: Inhale mouth, exhale nose. Awaken the heart-lungs area, feeling the inhalation loosening the solar plexus/diaphragm and the exhalation invigorating the heart. Consider at some point the pulsation of your heart and blood, bringing the old to the heart to be released and carrying the new to all parts of the body. Consider your own sense of purpose: “towards what am I pulsing? What gets my blood moving?” Honor the fire by using it properly--to clarify, not destroy. As we deeply receive the gifts of the fire, fire as a living being becomes more conscious through us.
AIR: Inhale mouth, exhale mouth (all refined). Feel air passing over and as if through you. Allow the pores to open and feel the whole envelope of skin with just air inside and outside. Consider: “how could I feel more lightness and freedom in my being, more ability to change?” Honor the air by moving with it to communicate the child within to all creation. As we deeply receive the gifts of the air, air as a living being becomes more conscious through us.
ALL TOGETHER: Inhale and exhale all the elements together for a few breaths (no particular pattern, or in and out through nose and mouth together), feeling fully embodied. The combination of all the elements is more than the sum of their parts: sometimes they are felt in unison, sometimes their individuality disappears in lucidity, like the rainbow and clear light. As we deeply receive the gifts of nature, through our own natural breath, nature as a living being becomes more conscious through us.
This can be preceded by any body prayer (including Salat-Nimaz or the Aramaic Prayer of Jesus) and followed by the healing prayer called Nayaz of Hazrat Inayat Khan: “Beloved Lord, Almighty God, through the rays of the sun, through the waves of the air, through the all-pervading life in space, purify and revivify us and we pray, heal our bodies, hearts and souls.” Amin.
To conclude take a few breaths in and out feeling “Toward the One,” feeling a connection to all the elements as living beings within and around you. If done in the morning, consider what you need to do this day. Ask for any clarity and understanding which you need. “We thank the elements and we thank their Source.” Amin: “May this sense of connection be the ground from which our new growth will spring.”
For background on this version of the practice: Body of Bliss, Body of Blessings by Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz
The Sacred Manuscript of Nature by Darvesha Victoria MacDonald
“There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.” Ten Sufi Thoughts, The Way of Illumination by Hazrat Inayat Khan
A suggested daily Ziraat practice is to find time every day to be in the Holy Book of nature. One possibility is to spend time in quiet awareness in your own “sit spot” (as it is called by the Wilderness Awareness School), a particular place that is visited over and over again though out the changing seasons of the year, the various times of the day, the changes in weather, the dynamic interactions of the various inhabitants, and the ever-changing fluctuations of the mind. All is revelatory!
Nature speaks louder than the call from the minaret.
~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
Hazrat Inayat Khan tells us, “Anyone who has some knowledge of mysticism and of the lives of the mystics knows that what always attracts the mystic most is nature. As it is said in the Vadan: ‘Art is dear to my heart, but nature is near to my soul.’ ... to the mystic nature is everything...The forest, the desert, hills and dales, mountains and rivers, sunrise and sunset, the moonlit night, and the shining stars ... stand like letters, characters, figures made by the Creator to read if one is able to read them.
“The sura of the Qur’an which contains the first revelation of the Prophet includes the verse, “Read in the name of your Lord . . . who taught with the pen.” The mystic, therefore, recognizes this manifestation as a written book; he tries to read these characters and enjoys what they reveal to him... to a Sufi they are his holy scripture. All the other sacred books of the world, however highly esteemed by the followers of the different religions, are interpretations of this book.......Nature does not teach the glory of God; it need not teach this, as nature itself is the glory of God.”
Nature Meditations Hazrat Inayat Khan - The Nature Meditations of Hazrat Inayat Khan
Photo by Krishna das