We are often reminded to take care of our precious planet…recycle! Plant a tree! Clean the ocean! Turn off the lights! I think all of these things are important. But I want to suggest we try something else...Rather than SAVE THE PLANET, friends, SAVE THE SELF. (Hint: the two go hand in hand). Rather than becoming eco-conscious, simply BE CONSCIOUS.
Most of us continue to ignore our connection to the earth—we think of it as an object, separate from ourselves. But actually the earth is a living, breathing, pulsing, miraculous being from which we cannot be separated! Everything we do, think, and feel is inextricably linked to the pulse of the planet. We nourish the earth and it nourishes us, it keeps us tethered through an invisible force as we spiral through space together. In poetry, science, and yoga we are taught that the elements of both the earth and the heavens (the infinite) exist within us. If we can collectively recognize this and then love, admire, and heal ourselves, we will contribute to this planet in a far greater way than cleaning up trash once a year.
Maybe you have heard these lines from William Blake:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
(Maybe he was a yogi?) Can something infinite like heaven or eternity exist in something finite like sand and flowers and hands? What about inside our body? Um…I like to think so. Through yoga I have felt the currents of universal life force move through me. I like that feeling—feeling concrete and rooted to the ground as my awareness expands and stretches through time and space. Why do we look at the pig or the tree and think we are better? Perhaps the tree is more enlightened because it strives only to be a tree, magically turning sunlight into food and oxygen, continually gifting us with it’s beauty and steadfastness. We need to plant a tree: we need to be more like the tree.
Tantric philosophy teaches that there is no separation between the material world and the spiritual realm. That is, we are all inherently divine. Does that feel light to you? I’ll repeat it. YOU ARE DIVINE: a part of God, every particle in the Universe. As such, we are a part of everything that exists on earth, we are the earth. We are the trees, the winds, the oceans, the animals—it is all interconnected! Some of you might think that sounds whacky, right? I’m sitting here in a chair looking out the window at all of those things, so I cannot be those things. But maybe you have felt it; with the stirring of excitement a wind blows, the tree blooms with your hope, or you can feel the ocean waves on your breath? We are connected to each other, to the earth, to space, time, and energy! In fact we ARE all of those things! (So when the earth hurts, we hurt. When we are a mess, it messes up the energy of EVERYTHING…see where I’m going?)
Tantrics say our body(in which we are housed) is a manifestation of spirit and serves as a vessel for us in our divine knowledge, to both destroy suffering and attain freedom. So we are not the body, we are within the body. The body is the vehicle that allows us to experience our time on earth. During this time, every occurrence (be it positive or negative) is meant to be our teacher and ultimately bring about understanding and love. Isn’t that lovely? If our body and mind are in balance (enter the practice of yoga) we can then shed the layers of human conditioning, thought, emotion, and ego that blind and confuse us: we let go of all that makes us feel separate and alone (even though that can never be true). We gradually begin to remember and receive this beautiful, infinite connection…we may even feel the vibration of magnificence of EVERYTHING within us. (That’d be the bliss part y’all).
So Blake was right! We are divine! Every human, living thing, portion of energy, matter, space and consciousness is linked. Our bodies are created by spirit and allow us to live on earth. Why? So that we may generate the sublime experience of discovering this truth over and over!! (Even if it is only for a second.) So that we may climb out of this human shell and be the wind: to move and spiral and float and feel for a second OH OH OH THAT’S IT! THAT IS HEAVEN AND I AM EXTENDING TO IT AND DRAWING IT IN SIMULTANEOUSLY, PUSHING IT OUT, DOWN AND UP ALL AT ONCE! I AM BEAUTY AND STILLNESS AND MOVEMENT AND OH MY GOD I AM SO SO SO GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF THIS BECAUSE I AM LOVE! WE ARE LOVE! THIS IS ALL LOVE!
Yeah, it’s pretty great. Can you see how that moment might create a change on earth? Can you see how a bajillion of those might change the earth? Is it possible?
Yep, I think so. Maybe it’s easier than we think. It sounds ethereal and nutty and intangible, but there are some very real and practical ways to tap into our energy—thus tapping into the universal energy of life. One way is through yoga, I bet you are not surprised.
Not all yoga classes will leave you feeling balanced, but a high quality teacher should have an energetic intention for their class that will help you discover how energy moves in your body. Tantric yoga teaches us how manipulate the energy in the body in order to better receive this connection to infinite things like space, eternity, and nature. In fact, the Tantrics discovered it was possible to control the mind by mastering manipulation of the five energetic expressions of prana in the body. Prana is the life force of everything. These expressions, or currents, of prana are called vayus. Each prana vayu has a specific direction in which it moves, and affects our being in a different way. (i.e. downward energy is stabilizing, upward energy is inspiring.) Miraculously, the five elements of the earth (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space/Ether) also exist within the body and correspond to the movement of the prana vayus.
That sounds pretty infinite and amazing doesn’t it? Our finite body houses each element of the earth, on it’s own current of energy, composing a symphony of life and animation in our body! Throughout each day, the elements come forward on the breath in turns and can affect our moods, thoughts, and health. With the prana vayus, the elements move as if floating on their own stream. If you think of the vayus as winds in the planet of the body, constantly swirling and changing direction, you can imagine how great their impact on the “weather” below. Our state of being and our quality of life is greatly impacted by this universal energy and our ability to control it. Through pranayama and asana (breath and postures), we work to balance the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space and their corresponding currents of life force.
See how deep this connection goes!? The earth is INSIDE us people!! So why is that important? When you know how to root yourself on an emotional day, or draw in inspiration, or conjure determination life feels…easier. Your mind finds calm and quiet. In that quiet, you hear the buzz of the infinite power line. Have you ever shared space with a truly balanced person? It’s quite fantastic. Just standing near them makes you feel comforted, grounded, and content. Kind of like how you feel standing next to an awesome tree, or mountain, or lake. Be the tree!
It sounds poetic because we ARE poetry, my friends! This is what I promise—this discovery is attainable. If you allow yourself to be aware of the planet earth (the whole universe) inside you: to feel the draw of the earth, the fluidity of water, the heat of fire, the lightness of air, and the expansion of space you can experience a profound sense of communion. You are the heaven, the wildflower, eternity, sand. You are time, you are death, you are water, land, and air. You are the light and the dark of every person, every sunrise and each sunset on this magnificent ball we walk on. My message this Earth Day is this: be conscious. Be conscious of the universe within and around you. Invite and learn the ways to balance the vibrations you put out into the world! Enjoy and appreciate yourself as a divine, magnificent being. Believe me, the earth will appreciate your contribution.
P.S.—if you want a better understanding of how to use tantric methods to work with the Prana Vayus and create balance within, I’d be happy to work with you!