If you think about yourself as separate or different from the world you live in, you can miss the immediacy and grace of life itself. You are actually a part of everything, as well as being your own unique expression. As they say in the yoga world, you are both the ocean, and your own specific drop of water in the ocean. Knowing yourself as elemental, as part of the planet, that runs with very specific instructions, can help you tap into the ease of healing – which your body wants to do naturally anyway! In my new book, The Energy to Heal, I explain how you are energy, how you are elemental, and how you can heal with that knowledge. Here’s a bit of what I mean.
Welcome to the earth! Here it is, the place we all live, which is really the center of your life if you think about it. This is the place that gives you all your sustenance. Every single thing, product, food, animal, building—everything—comes from the earth. Not only broccoli, beaches, and banyan trees. Do you love your cellphone? Do you love your house? Do you love your new designer outfit? Your new handbag? Your new motorcycle? Do you think of those things as coming from the earth? Do you love yourself as much as you love your new handbag?
Stomach and spleen are the energy systems that make up the Earth element. Stomach is about what you feed yourself, how you nourish yourself. Nourishing yourself, when you may never have felt nourished before, can be a radical act. Here is where your “gut feeling” comes into play, that deep connection between your inner wisdom and your body. Learning to trust that feeling, the intelligence that comes from within, is the start of trusting and then loving yourself again. Nourishment starts with the food you eat and flows out from there into everything you provide for yourself in life.
That gut feeling is more than just a metaphorical connection. Your gut is filled with a vast diversity of microbes, bacteria, fungi, and viruses that together make up what is called your microbiome. It is this system that keeps you healthy, digests your food, helps make vitamins from that food, breaks down toxins, and even helps support your immune system. The food you eat directly affects the health of your microbiome, which is located primarily in the intestines. This makes that “gut feeling” a phenomenon of the Earth element (“Does it feed and nourish me?”), the Fire element (“Is this appropriate and helpful for me?”), and the Metal element (“Do I need to hold on to this?”). Spleen, which is also part of your immune system, has to digest and assimilate everything that comes into your mind, into your system, and into your energy fields. Everything needs to be digested and assimilated in order to be used. The relationship between spleen and stomach is crucial. What you take in becomes you. Start to take in only things that are for your highest good.
The system of Earth is about what nourishes you on the deepest level: loving and caring for yourself, having compassion. If you’ve been pushed out of balance by stress and trauma, you’ll be thinking too much about other people. What do they think of you? What do they think about your situation? What’s going on in their lives? It’s all about everybody else.
To heal Earth is turn the mirror back onto yourself. Ask instead: What’s going on with me in my world? What am I feeling? What do I want to do today? What feeds me? What nourishes me?
Make yourself primary. This is not being selfish or self-centered. It’s acknowledging that if you are not taking care of yourself, you have nothing to give to anyone else. Come back to loving you.
How do you get to self-love? Is EFT tapping enough? Making a vow? Finding one good friend?
The primary ingredient in each of those ideas is commitment. The journey in the Earth element is to make a commitment that you will never abandon yourself.
I remember when I wanted to die. I literally would wake up every morning and realize my prayers—to die in my sleep overnight—had again not been answered. I pulled myself out of bed and started my miserable day.
My healing didn’t begin until I believed that I was worth living for. The only person who had been through every experience with me, and who knew me the best, and who would be with me every single day until I died, was Me. And if I didn’t commit to taking care of me, I was going to have a harder time than I could even imagine.
You must make a commitment to yourself that you will be here for You, no matter what is going on, no matter what happened in the past, no matter what may happen in the future. That is the start, and the depth, of loving yourself. Commit to being here for yourself all the time. Commit to not running away from difficulties, not abusing yourself, not denying or hiding from yourself. This is the very essence of self-love.
This is the time for you to also make a commitment to your practice. By now maybe you’ve been doing a technique here or there. You’ve been reading and journaling. Now is the time to commit. Set a specific amount of time per day, maybe even at the same time every day. And practice.
That practice will take different forms. And give you many insights.
Sometimes you might just sit on your mat and cry. Sometimes you might do cat to cow a hundred times as you deeply breathe, and that might be your practice. Sometimes you’ll sing. Sometimes you’ll write. Sometimes you’ll follow a practice exactly as it’s outlined in this book. Or you might do the practice but leave a couple of things out and substitute something else that you really love.
Just make a commitment.
Every day I take Louis, my dog, for at least two walks. In the morning and in the evening. Every single day. No matter if it’s raining, or snowing, or blowing thirty miles an hour, or minus twenty degrees, or 101 with smoke-filled skies: Louis gets two walks. If I’m really sick or extremely tired, or I have a book deadline and a retreat to plan and four other assignments all due soon and there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day and I barely have time to feed myself: Louis gets two walks.
In all thirteen years of his life so far, I have missed these two walks only a handful of times.
You commit to all kinds of things. Your children, your job, your friends and family, your spouse, your pets. Now make a commitment to yourself. This is the practice.
How many minutes a day are you going to commit to yourself?
Take out your journal and write that down: Commitment Practice: x minutes daily.
Now everything else flows from that.
That commitment is a powerful piece of your journey. And the joy, healing and sense of yourself as being of primary importance, is a true gift. We have such a short time here, and there’s no sense in wasting any more of it in pain or struggle. We use an inordinate amount of energy keeping us stuck in the status quo. What if you used just a fraction of that energy that’s keeping you stuck, into releasing you? You’ll be amazed at the results. It’s like finally letting the reins loose so the horse can gallop in joy. You deserve that. And it really is easier than you ever thought possible!
Lauren Walker is the author of The Energy to Heal, coming in May, 2022 (Llewellyn). She previously published, Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice (Sounds True, 2014) and The Energy Medicine Yoga Prescription (Sounds True, 2017). Both books won the Nautilus Silver award for best Mind/Body publication. She’s been teaching yoga and meditation since 1997 and created Energy Medicine Yoga while teaching at Norwich University. She teaches EMYoga across the US and internationally and has been featured many times in Yoga Journal, MantraMagazine, Yoga Digest, and published a feature article about her yoga work in The New York Times. In 2016 she was named one of the top 100 most influential yoga teachers in America. For more of her work, see EMYoga.net