ideas on consciousness, Wellness, and Being

  • Grounding in Gratitude

    Grounding in Gratitude

    I am blown away. Four days ago I felt the urge to go outside and try grounding myself, barefooted in the natural hills around my temporary home. I knew I would be leaving this place at the end of the month after four years of growth and experiences here. I stepped out the door and carefully pranced across the gravel driveway, until I could comfortably walk on the grass at its border. The connection began slowly, a bit disharmonious at first as the initial spot I chose was prickly and pointed, rocky and full of sticks, uncomfortable for my unweathered feet. I moved to a place of softer grass and closed my eyes, feeling the breeze through my long hair. Feeling myself becoming the breeze as it seemed to blow right through me, permeating my very soul. The ripples of the grassy fields were clearly visible to me though my eyes were closed.

    After this period of connection I felt called to walk up the grassy path toward the hilly overlook from where I’d watched many sunsets in the past four years. Eyes open to avoid stepping through the hard-built homes constructed by the inhabitANTS of the land, I felt as if gliding across the earth, its solid support pushing back into each step. I remember noting that this support never felt the same when our feet are bound in shoes. The support was firm but warm, like the love of a mother radiating through my feet. 

    I crested the top of the hill and stood in silence with my eyes closed. The sounds of insects and birds creating musical harmony in every direction. Woodpeckers dotting accented notes that fit perfectly along the melody of the wind. Then came the most intense sensation I’ve had in weeks, the one I came inside specifically to write about.

    I looked out across the hills, smelled the crisp grassy air, listened deeply to the music of life chirping about me, and said “Thank you.” I felt gratitude welling up inside me as I thanked the land for being my home for the last four years. I thought back to the month I was moving in, convincing the landlord I would take care of his house because of the sentimentality it had. Not yet realizing that at that dark desperate time of my life, I was being called back into nature to heal and become who I am today. Even now the emotions of that change are immense within me. The distraught delinquent I can hardly remember, false joy spread animatedly across his face, screaming from inside himself to come back to this home in nature, to heal and become me.

    I truly felt so much gratitude for this land. With tears now streaming down my face I gazed out across the hills taking in beauty and love from every direction. I wanted to embrace it all. If I could have held it all within my arms I would, but I simply wrapped  myself up in a solitary hug and spoke to myself and everything around. I exclaimed how incredibly thankful I was, and how I wanted to return the favor this land had given me but had no idea how. Before that Idea even made it out of my mouth my head rang in answer 

    “Just be. 
    Continue You.
    Be the you you are today and bring me with you everywhere. We are not separating, because we cannot be separate, you are a part of me forever as I am in you forever. Our footprints everlasting on each other.”

    Grounding Foot

    This experience in grounding was so profound I had to research more about it. At this point we’ve probably all heard a little about it as it’s made its rounds through social media, but isn’t it just another form of sideways health pushed by barely famous self-ordained gurus on the internet? No. In fact it has had many scientific tests conducted to study it. Clint Ober is a name we should become more familiar with as he is credited as the lead voice behind the grounding movement. Thanks to his push for information and exploration we now have scientific evidence supporting exactly what good comes from spending time truly connected to the earth. Plugged into our one true home. 

    Research in Grounding

    The National Library of Medicine published the results obtained from studying “The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and found evidence to support that in each case grounding exponentially instigated and assisted healing from the human body. Time and time again on this blog we have discussed the idea that Earth carries the energy you could relate to a Nurturing Mother, hence “Mother Earth”. This is all the more evident from studies like these that show as soon as we make contact with the earth, our body resonates with electricity from this connection and is inspired to better itself. 

    Typically I lend a skeptic’s tone, but the power behind this connective experience with our earthen planet shook me to my core, and has introduced a regular Grounding practice over my last week. There is not only power, but love, peace, and joy to come from sitting with the earth and dedicating our consciousness toward truly being in that moment. Hopefully my perspective will inspire others to take 10 minutes out of their day to seek that connection. Touch the earth with our skin and become connected to the planet like a fetus to its mother. My feet are still tingling with the energy of the earth.

  • The Cycles of our Lives: Positively Transform in 30 Minutes

    The Cycles of our Lives: Positively Transform in 30 Minutes

    The little things that make up the cycles of our lives make so much impact, but go mostly unwitnessed by our conscious minds.

    We are intimately familiar with the cycles of our lives, whether we realize it or not. The water cycle, the moon phases, sunrise and sunset. Each day of our lives represents a single cycle. There are parts of that cycle that will almost always be the same. Wake Up, Eat, Sleep. This basic three part cycle is present in all of our lives, and thankfully only takes up about 10-12 hours of our day. This means that our uniqueness comes from the other 12 hours remaining in the day. For most of us 8 of those hours are dedicated to working. While we all work an infinite variety of jobs, those 8 hours feel similar to all of us, leaving 20 hours of our daily cycle, mostly the same. What do we do for the other 4 hours? Are those hours truly unique among us? Does that make each of us less unique? I don’t believe so. In fact I think it shows how close uniqueness is, and also demonstrates how near to us the power of change resides. 

    If I change only 30 Minutes of my day it would be hardly noticed by most, but of the truly unique hours of my day, I will have changed 25% of who I am. Obviously my personality, my beliefs and my morals do not change just because 30 minutes of my day changed, at least not immediately. I would argue however, that this 30 minutes applied each day can absolutely have an actionable change on who I am as a being. One simple change will not restructure who I am, but if I consistently make the change, for example if this 30 minutes were a daily exercise routine, then would I not change because of it by becoming a physically different version of myself?

    total lunar eclipse g11728ed6e 1920

    The Hidden Impact of the Cycles of our Lives

    This is what I mean by how these small cycles of our lives demonstrate how near we as beings exist to our power of change. This ideology of course brings to mind the question of whether or not mankind is more than their actions. I believe we are obviously more than our actions, but I also believe our actions shape who we are. They have a measurable impact on who or what we can be. If this is true though, why is it that so many of us are stuck in the same rut or routine. It can’t simply be as easy as changing 30, or even 10 minutes a day could it?The problem is it is exactly that easy, but the other 3 hours 30 minutes of our free time are just as impactful, and often counter-productive.

    If you are like me and you seek to do something different with your time during the day, be it exercise, reading, or anything else, you find that at the end of your new activity you are left with a longing for what used to fill that 30 minute time frame. We then use the rest of our time to make up for the ritual we lost. In the water cycle, if we purify the ground-water but pollute the air, then the water still becomes polluted when it goes through its cycle.  We do this unconsciously in the cycles of our lives by  eating more calories after exercise, or watching more TV after reading, as if to catch up on time missed that wasn’t actually missed, just relocated. These routine habits can be almost addictive and hard to escape because they build off of each other. 

    The element of earth is demonstrated in our day to day routine and presents itself first most in the cycles of our lives. It is constituted by our diet, exercise, work, and life-structure. The decisions we make consciously and unconsciously. It is the solid element. The element of rigidity, and it does not give way to change easily. However; just like the canyons of the world were carved, and the beaches have receded, it is consistency and persistence that shift this element. “Rome wasn’t build in a day” and the Grand Canyon wasn’t carved in a decade, but they were built and carved.

    By changing 30 minutes a single day, we do not become the person we want to be, but it is the first step in becoming them. By embracing the daily and weekly cycle of that person, and assimilating  it into our lifestyle consistently, we will become them. In this way we visualize who we want to become, and watch ourselves become that person. We only have a few truly free hours a day, and what we do in those hours becomes who we are.

    Check out The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, A perfect compliment to this article:

  • Right Livelihood: Malicious Monetary Freedom-ination

    Right Livelihood: Malicious Monetary Freedom-ination

    The words of Hanh are yet again resonating vibrantly within me. His work in  The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings: Transforming Suffering into Peace and Liberation, is some of the most powerful writing I have read this year. During his chapters on the Noble Eightfold Path he discussed principles that persist outside of Buddhism, and stand to improve the lives of all who read them. Though each has its own beautiful correlation to our lives, the one I wanted to focus on today is Right Livelihood.

    What I’ve gleaned from reading is that Right Livelihood is living freely, without capitalizing on others. It is gaining your livelihood while also lifting up the world and others around you. Our livelihood must come from the elevation of the existences in experience around us. As soon as we seek to make a livelihood by extracting it from someone else we are not in “Right Livelihood”. Once our mission becomes to capitalize or manipulate someone into giving us money, we are outside of Right Livelihood.

    I have never identified as Buddhist, and still wouldn’t dream to claim myself to be, but this idea of Right Livelihood is the epitome of the combination of ideas that have always driven who I am at my core. Growing into adulthood and desiring to make money led me to the darkest and most suffering times in my life. I have never been in a darker place than when I was led by money, and being convinced that money was the path to success and freedom, but that couldn’t be more wrong.I had always felt that money was necessary, and that for me to be free or happy I would need to maintain a certain amount of money. A baseline budget I would call it. However this enchained me into a system of trading time for money and never receiving the value of the time traded, it was not freedom. 


    Freedom cannot be derived from anything else, especially material items. Freedom cannot be freedom when we tie it to something else. This concept plagues humanity, especially citizens of the U.S., the supposed “Land of the free.” How can a land be free when freedom is contingent on an imaginary number listed next to our names in some database. How can we be free if our entire freedom requires us to exchange green notes of reservation to obtain water, air, or shelter? How does a person claim freedom behind the bars of monetary confinement, where the laws of the land are easily thrown aside if you have enough of those flimsy green notes. We laugh and jest at family board games, the insanity of the “get out of jail free” card, as if a person could ever. Then we watch as pale man after pale rich man lives a life of lawless leisure demonstrated by that same game. We endeavor to free ourselves of constraint by tying ourselves to the bricks of earthen earnings. 

    This is quite the opposite of Right Livelihood. Hanh says those selling drugs, scams, and taking money at every turn are the ones living in Wrong Livelihood. My soul soars with the knowledge that this is the Way. The path of freedom and Right Livelihood paved with the simple desire to do good by our brothers and sisters, the extensions of existence all around us. Bringing ourselves to freedom of servitude, by embedding our mission with service to existence in all our actions, thoughts, and especially our livelihood. Gaining only because you bring gain to all things. Feeling intensely the loss that comes when we are all detrimentally impacted by greed and fear. 

    Right Livelihood, Helping Others

    Choosing to Decide

    Hanh explains that once we resolve to make this change in our life, to live livelihood based on the elevation of existence, then existence will show you the path to achieve it. It is clear however, that making the decision, or having the knowledge of Right Livelihood doesn’t mean we can simply walk away from our jobs. We cannot abandon the needs of our family in an effort to find a more “right” way of living, but that is not what is being asked of us. We only have to gain the desire, see the mission. Emerson wrote “Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen” and this sentiment is mirrored in Hanh’s belief that once we acknowledge RIght Livelihood, and seek it out, the Way will naturally begin to illuminate in front of us. We have to be willing to make the change, and see it become real in our life, before the actual events of change have the room to transpire. 

    Maria Popova of the Marginalian wrote in her article “16 Life-Learning from 16 Year of the Marginalian” that we should “Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.” Note that she didn’t say to forsake money. She didn’t say elect to be broke. She, one of the most successful writers and genuine thinkers of our time, simply said to do it for more than these material things. It is fine to receive them, and in fact you probably should, but ensure you are doing it for more. The first ever article of this blog, and the credo of my life since is to “Work for More than Money” the moral being the same. Accept money for your livelihood because that is required of us at this time, but ensure that we are not devoting our entire livelihood to money, because then we are not free, but dominated by the concept of freedom. 

    How can we use the perspective of the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire, to understand this idea of Right Livelihood? Elemental earth demonstrates itself inside of our routine, our work, and our foundations, however Right Livelihood requires more than that. It is an earthen routine invigorated with the fire of consciousness. It is where our established routine provides our life with sustenance and foundation. If we only live the earthen routine, focused only on the monetary sustenance, then we become imbalanced. It bogs us down and makes us heavy with this dense earthen energy. This is why Right Livelihood is so important, it provides the foundation of the rest of our path, while maintaining connection to our purpose. Mindfully understand the relation between earth and fire, remember that your livelihood is your immaterial sustenance, and only allow yourself to gather form and solidarity from what the Buddhists would call “Right Livelihood.”

  • The 4 Elements in Christianity And The Unadulterated God: I AM

    The 4 Elements in Christianity And The Unadulterated God: I AM

    Much of what I have written in the last couple weeks has been focused on the Buddhist beliefs I’ve found in books like Why Buddhism is True, by Robert Wright. However, my student’s mind was recently invigorated by my innate urge to study all religions. I was brought to read a bookmarked post on the U.S. Catholic blog where Christine Paintner discusses the knowledge that can be received from incorporating the four elements in Christianity through prayer. 

    Naturally this ideology echoes loudly within me, not only because of my affinity toward the four elements, but also because of my studious, religious upbringing. Living in the Bible Belt, it is not particularly easy to approach ideas of prayer, Christianity, or God, with anything other than what the preacher spoon-feeds you. This article is my endeavor to do just that. 

    Approaching ideas of religion, it feels right to disclaim that there is no information on this blog that is meant to sway anyone’s religious belief, and none of the ideas presented here are exclusive to any one religion. Elementalism is a universal perspective, a way of thinking, that can be applied to all walks of life. The goal is to focus on your consciousness, wellness, and being, through an understanding of the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire. 

    Elements in Christianity

    The Four Elements in Christianity: Scripture

    “In the Christian scriptures, the four elements are represented in multiple ways. The Spirit comes as both wind and fire. The living water of baptism is a central symbol for our self-understanding as members of the Christian community. The communion feast springs from the gifts of bread and wine, earth’s nourishment.” 
    Christine Valters Paintner: “Pray with the four elements to connect to God and the Earth” – 07/16/2019

    Paintner asserts an immediate connection to each of the four elements in Christianity in various ways but the quote above struck me with the most force. It resonates with a passage in Isiah 42:5: “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.” An elemental creation of reality, before we are even introduced to ideas of God’s identity, we are demonstrated the power of the four elements in Christianity as an extension of God’s will. He spread forth the earth, that which cometh out, water. Gives Breath to the people, air, and then places upon them spirit, fire. That pattern is the same as the one discussed in densities of consciousness: earth, water, air, then fire.

     Immediately I’m called to remember Moses striking the earth to draw forth water, or Elijah calling down fire to consume water and flesh. The swallowing of the earth by water for forty days and forty nights. The burning bush, and the Earthen Carved Commandments, numerous examples popping up left and right. The elements are scattered throughout the christian scripture more than Christ himself as they are used as extensions of God’s transformative and creative energy.

    Jesus’s message was to bring humanity closer to God, to show them their connection to a fatherly energy of creation. The elements are regular representations of that energy manifesting time and time again. Even Christ’s miracles themselves were demonstrations of God’s energy through these elements in Christianity: Walking on Water, feeding thousands of people twice, putting intellect and sound in a blind/dumb man, calming a raging storm, the list of over 37 miracles of Christ continues. Each miracle demonstrates an elemental shift performed through his connection to his God.

    It’s important to note that Jesus never specifically acknowledged the four elements. Never once did he recognize them in the way the Buddha or eastern traditions would. Despite this, each biblical miracle is a clear display of the four elements in Christianity shifting at Jesus’s (or Moses’s, or Elijah’s, etc.) connection to that singular energy of God. 

    It’s important to realize that this is not a claim that the Elements are in any way gods, idols, or even images of God. They are all parts of one larger whole, that whole being the “one true God,” as most modern-day Christians understand him. We are told in the next two chapters that there is only one God, has never been, and will never be another:

    “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”

    “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

    Isaiah 43:10 & 44:6

    Yet, in Deuteronomy 6:14 it is written “Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;”. Here God seems to acknowledge the existence of other gods.

    Prior to Isiah, in Exodus 20:1-5 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,”. Demonstrating the nature of humans to create gods from the elements. Though they witness elemental influence, they shouldn’t make idols and gods out of these singularities, because they are not the “One God”

    The God: I AM

    In Isiah the one God is explaining that no other Gods can exist because he is the only one, but prior to this, in Exodus and Deuteronomy he had explained to Moses that his people should not accept other gods. How can God restrain the acknowledgement of other gods, yet claim there are no other gods. Could it be that all these “gods” of Moses day were simply separations of the one God’s divine energy?

    Moses’ people had lived with other gods. They knew the power and realness of these other gods. There is no way they could have been convinced that these gods were not real because they had seen the miracles. Isiah, his story much younger, was more removed from these influences and could see these old “gods” for what they truly were. Misrepresentations of the singular God. Idolized parts, or energies, being mistakenly identified as their energetic whole, all energies and beings as one thing. There is only one God, because all gods are God. God is not human, because he is all things, including humanity. God is not the Earth, because he is all things including the Earth. God is not, because he simply is. Two verses solidify this idea:

    “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. “

    Exodus 3:14

    “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

    Romans 11:36

    Elementalism demonstrates parallel clearly here. Its key concept of seeing the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire, in all things, allows us to bring our perspective into that shared by God. The perspective of everything all at once. The perspective of I AM. When we look for the elements in all things, we strip away the organic, visible layers of it and leave it in elemental energetic nakedness, where only the energy of a singular kind, that “God” energy, can still exist. By seeing the elements in everything around us we almost accidentally stumble over this christian concept of God in the process. The elements are not God, because God is all things, including the elements. Through acknowledging and observing the four Elements in Christianity and all things has the ability to bring Christians closer to God by bringing consciousness closer to where that idea of God resides. 

  • Four Nutriments of the Buddha: The 4 “Foods” of Seductive Suffering

    Four Nutriments of the Buddha: The 4 “Foods” of Seductive Suffering

    This week I’ve been reading The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings: Transforming Suffering into Peace and Liberation, by Thich Nhat Hanh. Early in I came across the presentation of The Four Nutriments identified by the Buddha. These are Food, Sense Impression, Volition, and Consciousness. I found this immediately interesting from an elemental perspective as they lend themselves well to elemental classification. Food as earth, Sense Impressions as air, Volition as water, and Consciousness, as always, fire. 

    The Idea presented is that humans can bring ourselves suffering or happiness based on what we consume of these types of sustenance. Starting with the first of the four nutriments, the physical, if we eat food that disservices ourselves we bring suffering. This is easily understandable but also expanded by Hanh to include that if we eat food that damages the society, or the world around us, we are also bringing ourselves suffering by “eating the flesh of our children.”

    The depth of this lesson shines through when we start acknowledging the other three nutriments. Hanh mentions impressions of the sense as perceived by our six-senses. He lists the Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue, Body and Mind as the six senses,  implying our intellectual sense as a receiver. This nutriment constitutes the information and impressions received on all of these parts. The ideas of the world swirling around us begging to hook our attention, that we might record them in our ever racing mind. The multitudes of distracting ideas in advertisements, social media, television, etc. If the first nutriment is physical food, the second nutriment includes all of the sensational and immaterial things we consume. The concepts and energetic misdirection of reality.

    hands g788b69bfc 1920

    The third Nutriment gets even deeper, to the core of what some might call our heart, a trait of water. This nutriment is identified as volition, our will. We could also call it our intention, though whatever it’s name, it refers to our goals, desires, or wishes for outcome. It is the desired destinations we are pushing our lives to. A common tenet across styles of Buddhism is that our suffering rises from our desires. This stresses the importance of analyzing our desires, and minimizing them, to in turn minimize suffering and make room for happiness. This nutriment is different from the first two because it isn’t exactly something we consume like food. It is more what we are bringing or chasing, some might say “manifesting” though that word is so riddled with connotation I stutter to write it anymore. It is the idea, written by Emerson, that “once we make a decision the universe conspires to make it happen.” Our will for the future is as much a food to us as the food we eat because it is the fuel for our motivation. The energy behind our inspiration.

    The fourth of these Four Nutriments is Consciousness. Hanh explains this nutriment as both the individual consciousness, and communal consciousness. It is our recorded experience. The points in our life that have made us who we are. It’s important to note however, that experiences do not make us unless we allow them to. These points in time are the ones that we cling to in the present. We think about past experiences and the state of the world, political turmoil, and emotional scars. All of these things that become chapters in our experience, in time become the “food” of our consciousness. This is because we allow these things to become our characteristics, and we build our individual consciousness from them. With this the food of consciousness seems to be the most elusive, but equally the most impactful. Hanh explains that the food of consciousness is “all these events we have buried in our consciousness and we have not been able to transform.” like “Chewing the cud of our suffering and despair” because every time we ruminate on the past we are living in it, allowing ourselves to be abused or tortured again, when it is no longer happening in the present.

    Four Nutriments: Consciousness

    These four “foods” are a remarkable perspective at where suffering comes from in our lives, a key principle taught in the second of The Four Noble Truths. While I am only just beginning this depth of research into Buddhism, I find it refreshing and also inspiring to see the patterns of four present in many of the Buddha’s teachings. The Four Noble Truths, The Four Nutriments, and The Eightfold Path are just a few examples. Viewing these ideas through our elemental ideaology brings a new layer of meaning to each individual element.

    For years I have believed and witnessed that what we consume plays a major role on what we perceive in our experience.It is rejuvenating to see these ideas put so plainly in text. I entirely support that if we understand the principles behind The Four Nutriments, we will find ourselves embracing more happiness than suffering, or at the very least, understanding better where our suffering begins, so that we can begin the process of “cessation of suffering”: the third of the Four Noble Truths. Couldn’t we all enjoy a little less suffering in our lives?

Tips of Tender

Extracted from years of my life spent reading, writing, and studying, it is my vow that this blog will remain free of ads, at no cost to you. The years spent creating this space have been incredibly fulfilling for me, but also require a diligent balance of time and money. Most days you can find me waiting tables to make ends meet, as gratuity is the most compatible form of compensation with my spirit. With that in mind if my words have brought you any illumination, please consider a humble donation.


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