Throughout the world – and across many religions – a candle is a symbol of hope, love, faith and prayer. It represents the flame of our spirituality, the spark that connects us to Spirit, to the Divine, and to our intuition.
We tend that fire with our spiritual practices, so that we can also keep our Inner Fire alive and burning.
How do you tend that Inner Fire?
For me there are simple steps and rituals we can take daily to tend that flame – the Fire element within us – using all the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water to support us.
It is important to keep our elements in balance as they also interact with each other, like our chakra system. For instance, Earth is aerated by Air, fed by Water and supports the Air. Water extinguishes Fire, which in turn warms the Earth and can dry the Water.
As we flow through the seasons, we also entrain with the Elements as each takes dominance – Earth in Winter, Air in Spring, Fire in Summer and Water in Autumn. You may need to finely adjust your foods or activities to maintain your balances. In many ways, this is the basis of Earth Medicine – finding harmony with the world around us.
Working with the Earth Element
The Earth element is the foundation for our body, and is connected to the Root (first) Chakra. If our Earth Element – or Root Chakra – is out of balance, we may not be connecting with the world around us as effectively as possible. That Inner Fire may be lit, but we are not accessing its brilliance.
This is where the practice of mindfulness and awareness can support us. Take a few moments right now, and start by scanning your senses. What do you hear? See? Smell? Taste? Do you feel hot? Cold? Do you feel the energy of the ground or floor beneath you? Are any senses more heightened?
Do this until you are fully aware and experiencing the world around you with all five senses, and can once again sense your Inner Fire.
Working with the Water Element
Water is such a powerful element – a single drop of water hitting a rock repeatedly over time can eventually change its shape. Water is cleansing. It is emotion. It is healing. It gives life. It sustains us. It is also related to our Sacral (Second) Chakra, which also governs creativity, emotion and sexuality.
One of the best ways to connect with the Water Element is to immerse yourself in water. Pamper yourself with a soothing relaxing bath with added bath salts (like the ocean, the Womb of Nature) and a few drops of essential oils that support relaxation and calming. Soak for at least 15 minutes, and feel the tension and stress ebb away. Remember how this feels. Once you body learns to relax, you become more aware of what “relaxed” feels like and can claim it again. Focus on your Inner Fire and feel its presence while you soak.
Try this basic Bath Salt formula, good for one soak:
- 1/2 cup of Epsom Salts
- 1/4 cup of Fine Sea Salts (you could even substitute Himalayan Pink Salt or Dead Sea Salts)
- 1/4 cup of Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) to soften the skin
- 8-10 drops of your favourite Essential Oils or essential oil synergy blend.
Working with the Fire Element
All the elements are powerful in their own way, each a mixture of creative and destructive aspects and Fire demonstrates this so very strongly. It is fuelled by those other elements but cannot stand alone; it needs them all to survive.
Fire is strongly associated with our Solar Plexus (third) Chakra, the seat of our personal power and strength, and also nourishes our Heart (Fourth) Chakra, the seat of love, empathy and compassion.
The simplest ways to connect with the Fire Element are to enjoy the sunshine or to light a bonfire, but these are not always practical or possible. But the best and easiest option? Bring the fire inside! One of my favourite techniques for connecting and feeding that Inner Fire is Trataka, also known as Candle Gazing Meditation.
Some yoga practitioners gaze at the candle until their eyes water, but I prefer this simpler technique:
- In a quiet and dimly lit room, place your candle on a fireproof dish away from drafts, and safe from pets or children.
- It should be roughly an arm’s length away from you, and preferably at the same height as your eyes.
- Light the candle, and then use your breathing technique to relax, while focusing on the candle.
- When you open your eyes, you will see the image of the candle in your mind’s eye… a beautiful reflection of our Inner Fire.
- Continue to breathe deeply and slowly, focusing on the lit candle and your Inner Fire alternately.
- When you feel fully relaxed, sit for a moment and connect to your Inner Fire.
- Thank it for its presence in your life, for the inspiration it gives you.
Working with the Air Element
Air – the breath of life. Inspiration, in all its complex meanings. The Air Element is associated with our Heart (fourth) Chakra and is about movement, intellect and sound. The Heart Chakra manages our emotional connections to others and the Self, such as empathy, compassion, love (including self-love).
Air surrounds us all; it connects us all. Air brings the external world into our internal physical bodies, connecting us to everything around us.
When we breathe fully, deeply and completely, we connect to the Air element. Try this in your daily practice, or when you are stressed or anxious and breathing quickly (too much air!). This simple breathing meditation can calm and relax you, and keep the oxygen flowing to your Inner Fire.
- Find a quiet place. Sit down, relax and – if possible – close your eyes.
- Focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply and slowly in a count that is comfortable for you (three or four “beats” and use that “count” for each step of the breathing process). Hold the breath and then gently exhale fully and completely. Pause and then start again.
- As you start to relax, you can relax even more by imagining breathing in a beautiful bright light and exhaling any stresses of the day.
- You may even add the element of sound to further enhance the meditation such as singing bowls, chanting, chimes or other pleasing and relaxing sounds.
- Continue with this simple breathing meditation until you feel completely relaxed and grounded, and can feel that Inner Fire being nourished by Air.
The Inner Fire of our Heart Chakra is also nurtured by the other elements – the Earth of our Root Chakra, the Water of our Sacral Chakra and the Fire of our Solar Plexus.
Try one or more of these techniques in your daily practices and rituals, and adapt them to what works best for you. Whichever technique you choose, be conscious and mindful of that Inner Fire throughout and make sure it continues to burn brightly.
This article was originally published in December 2015 on The School of Gypsy Arts website, as a contribution to their blog. Click here to read the article on their site, read their very informative blog, and learn more about their upcoming events and workshops.
Sending a big Thank You to Sharron Basanti of The School of Gypsy Arts for the invitation to contribute!