Earth Bathing Ritual
For Part 4 of Tree-Centred Practice I will offer the first of 4 elemental integration grounding exercises that will support the development of our awareness in presence in nature. This exercise is called Earth Bathing, or Earth Diving, and is a Focusing orientated practice that deepens our skills in contacting our felt-senses within nature. This exercise is also great when we can not physically be in nature as this can be performed within the comfort of our own home. Adapt the steps to suit the environment. I will illustrate the indoor version to suit the season of winter. This is not a simple guided meditation, but rather, complex steps in giving presence to the parts of our being, while we actively contact and integrate with the elements all around us. Allowing our sensing field to sense into our environment and the wider landscape.
The steps of this practice lead the practitioner into a deep and rested experience. Using Focusing orientated awareness's the sensing being collaborates with imagination, memory and the felt-senses to create an escape. An escape into our own underground wilderness. This wilderness is not only an inner landscape, but looks to integrate inner elements of experience with outer stimulus through remaining grounded present and aware.
Caution should be taken by anyone whom feels uncomfortable in enclosed spaces, as this practice peaks with guided imagery into complete immersion in the earth. And by anyone who doesn't respond well to meditation.
Earth Element Integration
Finding a comfortable place to sit or lay down, begin by taking some relaxing breaths. Welcome a sense of grounded and aware presence within your body and surroundings. Notice how you body feels with a gentle curiosity. Be aware of any other surrounding sounds such as the quiet hum of a refrigerator or the muffled sounds of others elsewhere in the home. Notice any sensations occurring in the body for instance aches, tensions or stomach gurgles. Notice how how the body feels clothed or unclothed, tight or relaxed. Notice the air, is it cool or warm. Talking in all the fine details of this moment in presence.
While being present in awareness of your own aliveness in this moment. Turn you attention to you toes. Imagine them finding the earth beneath the floor you are resting above. Invite your toes to notice the earth. Allow your roots to extend from your toes and heels and reach into the earth. These roots plant into the earth and you begin to feel a sense of togetherness, of returning to your underground wilderness. Notice how the earth feels around your toes and feet. Invite a sense of comfort in this connection with the earth. Notice your roots become enlivened, strengthened and flexible. Encourage them to go deeper.
Your roots begin to grow more roots and reach deeper into the soft crumbly earth. You sense into the soil, it is comfortably cool and moist. Notice the quality of the soil you are bathing in, bringing awareness to the rich nutrients and minerals, as they make contact with your ankles, shins and calves. Think of spongy gentle mosses against your skin, soothing and softening you as you bath deeper. You feel your knees pass through the mosses as more of your body is held gently enveloped. Notice how your legs respond with physical sensations. Are your muscles relaxing, are there any tingling sensations. Notice how your breathing is. Remain fully present and grounded in your environment. You are reminded that you are safe and in control.
You notice the earth now around your thighs and buttock. You feel the coolness of earth around your groin and moving up and over your pelvise and hips. The mosses smooth over your waist. Remain calm and breath naturally. Know that this experience is for you, this is your lustral earth bath. You welcome the healing magic of the earth and feel a deep sense of gratitude for this experience. Notice any physical sensations in your body, turn your attention to them, welcome them just as they are. Observe with gently curiosity your bodies reaction to this experience. Spiral in and our of awareness of your surroundings, the room you are resting in, remain fully present in the here and now. Are there there noises from your home, can you hear birds outside? Notice the inner and outer awareness's together.
You now feel the mosses rising up and over your back, you feel your spine respond to the quality of earth. You feel the earth grow around your stomach and chest. Notice the comfortableness of your body responding to the earth covering this area. As you soak in your earth bath, almost completely covered, you inhale the delicate musky essences of the earth. Allow your felt-senses to explore the imagination of these scents. Pine needles, roots, heathers, rain. Call upon what you know to be the smells you enjoy and invite these to stimulate your senses. Use your memory to bring back the smells that bring you comfort of your land, or your earth, or your weathers. You feel the earth cover your arms, chest and your shoulders. Notice how the hairs on your arms and neck feel, how your skin feels. Notice how your body as a whole feels as you bath. Turn your awareness to your toes once again and remind those roots that you are fully present, grounded and aware.
Notice now your shoulders and your neck. The earth is moving up as you dive deeper. Feel your body supported and held within the earth. Notice the detail in which you experience the quality of the earth. Are there stones and roots, are there crystals. Is the earth soft, powdery and crumbly like humus, or thicker and wetter like clay. Is there an underground stream trickling near you. Are there underground illuminations. Sense your pores expanding, your skin absorbing the healing magic of the earth. You are aware of the mosses again, moving up and over your neck and around your jaw and the back of your head. Notice how your head feels. Does it feel heavy or lightened. Notice every strand of hair as they respond to the earth and mosses. Can you sense your hair moving, parting, or your scalp tingling. You feel the mosses move up and over your mouth. Notice at this point how your breathing becomes. Remember, you are in your home, you are in grounded and present awareness. You are entering the earth realm by choice. You are safe and supported. You find that you can breath perfectly and deeply as the earth moves up and over your mouth and nose. You feel a sense of calm. The oxygenated mosses support you to breath in clean purified air. The earth against your face brings a welcomed coolness. Soothing your skin.
You now feel empowered to continue to full immersion. The mosses move up and over your eyes, the moss is cool, soft and damp, a soothing balm for your tired eyes and tense brow. Notice how your eyes feel. The mosses gently cover your ears and muffle your hearing in a comfortable way. As they move up to the top of your head, the mosses dab your forehead. You feel the earth hold your head as you sink deeper. The earth then reaches your crown and closes over you. You are fully immersed in the sacred earth. You notice you are fully held and supported. This is your own secret underground. You are protected and nourished here. You sense the world above you. You may see the mosses and grasses above you, the sun shining down upon you. Bring your awareness to your body and observe with curiosity any feelings, sensations, mind chatter. Do not try to alter anything you find. Only welcome into presence. Bath in the earth. Feel a sense of deep cleansing and healing.
When you feel rested and rejuvenated and you have bathed for as long as you feel you need to, it is time to thank the earth and thank your body. You can leave this earthen realm with grace by visualising yourself rising up and out, or by diving out and landing on your feet on top of the mosses and grasses in the sunlight. Or you can simply bring your awareness of your room back into your present awareness, focusing on the sounds and sensations of your rested position and surrounding area and gently open your eyes.