School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: November 2010
Initiated into the elements…

By Veena Vasista

To initiate means, according to one on-line definition, ‘to introduce into the knowledge of some art or subject’ and ‘to admit or accept with formal rites into an organization or group, secret knowledge, adult society, etc.’  Initiation, therefore, is the act of doing the above. Two months ago, I completed the School of Movement Medicine Initiation workshop.

The label is relevant on a range of levels and in relation to both definitions. What I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how the workshop was an initiation, for me, into the four elements: air, water, earth, fire.

We kicked off the workshop with a focus on the elements, something I had not done much of before. A seed was planted in me that has since continued to grow and grow. It is flowering day after day into a greater awareness of the elements. I find myself thinking about what they symbolize, how they interact around me and in me. I’m increasingly using my awareness of them to help find balance in those unstable moments we all have. For example, if I’m feeling anxious, I think about ways I can ground myself, connect with the earth while my heart races and I get jumpy – a mixture fire and air getting out of control.

At the beginning of October, a friend and I went on a four day hike. Quite whimsically on the first day, I suggested that we devote each day to an element. We observed and contemplated it around us in and within us. While we may not have danced the elements in the sense of embodying them in our movement (for example, moving as if we were fire), we were dancing with them each day – emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically.

On this four day hike, it became clear to me that the elements are valuable tools.  As we walked and talked about the elements, my friend and I began to see new connections with which we are still dancing, and continue to bring forth fruits of learning. In particular, I was surprised to realise the complex relationships the elements have with each other. Before, I would think that air fuels fire and earth puts it out, tames it. Simple. But then I remember that wood fuels fire. Not so simple. Similarly, fire gives heat and life, but fire also burns and destroys. Water can hold us and comprises seventy-five percent of us, but it can also drown us. And so forth. Through the elements, I am reminded that all our relationships – with ourselves and the world around us - have an aspect of both creation and destruction within them. As we dance with the elements on a day to day basis, it helps to have an awareness of this duality.

In short, having been initiated into the elements – air, water, earth, fire - I have also been initiated into a deeper understanding of my Self.

veena vasista  14 November 2010



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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.