Sadhguru gives us tips to cleanse each of the five elements within us, which when practiced regularly, can lead to a sense of rejuvenation and wellbeing within.
Sadhguru: Before you attempt anything that is considered as a mystical process, it is very important to stabilize the five fundamental elements within you. These are known as pancha bhutas or maha tatwas in the yogic science. The body, the very earth, the universe, and the cosmos, all are just a play of five elements. The body’s composition is such that most of it is water. Then there is earth, air, fire, and the rest is akash or etheric space.
How these five elements behave within you determines just about everything. Bhuta means element, bhuta shuddhi means to become free from the taint of elements or to cleanse the elements. It means to become free from the physical nature. Most human beings are completely in the grip of their physiological and psychological processes. Our physiology is something that we have accumulated. Likewise, the whole content of our psychological process has been accumulated in the form of impressions.
Between these two processes, who you are existentially, the nature of your being, is completely missed. If you want to access dimensions that are not yet in your experience, dimensions that are considered mystical, the first thing that you need to do is to start cleansing the five elements within you. When the elements are pure, you distinctly know the difference between what is physical, what is psychological, and what is existential.
Tips to Cleanse the Five Elements
Among the five elements, water has the greatest significance because a major percentage of the body is water. You need to take sufficient care of the water that you consume – not just in terms of its physical purity, it being bacteria-free and so on, but in terms of how you keep the water and how you approach it. There is substantial scientific evidence today that a thought, an emotion, a touch can change the molecular structure of water and greatly alter the way water behaves within your system.
Water has a great sense of memory. Everything that happens around a body of water is in some way stored in the water molecules. You could call it a fluid computer. You are not dealing with a commodity – you are dealing with life-making material. Water is life. It is important how you treat it before it enters your system.
You can keep the water in a metal container, preferably made of copper or an alloy of copper, wash the container every day with an organic substance, and keep the water in a place where it is not touched by other smells and substances – there is sufficient space around it. If you do this, and you approach it by holding the vessel in your hands with a sense of gratitude and reverence because it is life-making material, and then consume it, you will see it will do wonders within your system. Healthfulness and equanimity will be a natural consequence.
The earth that you walk upon has a sense of intelligence and memory. Even if you live in a concrete jungle, it is important to keep in touch with the earth upon which you live. Create ways for yourself to somehow remain in touch with it. If your bare hands and bare feet – particularly the palms and soles – come in touch with the earth on a daily basis, it will harmonize the physiological process in your system.
Try to spend at least a few minutes in the garden, barefooted, touching plants or trees, because the earth is the basis of life. All life – yours and that of every other creature – has come from this earth. Stay in touch with it and harmonize your system.
Though air represents only a small percentage of your body’s elemental composition, it is the most dynamic element in terms of the transaction that happens on a minute-to-minute basis. It is well-known that what kind of air you breathe is important, but how you breathe and how consciously you do so is equally important.
Especially for those of you who live in large cities, it may not always be in your hands what kind of air you breathe, so it is good that at least for a few minutes every day, you take a walk in the park, along the lake or the river, whatever is available to you. If you have children, it is important that at least once a month, you take them out far enough from the city, where nature is in a reasonably pure state, and they can climb a small hill, walk in a forest, or swim in a river, to be in touch with nature and do something where the breath is dynamic.
This is not just for aerobic exercise but because there is a constant exchange of air from within and without. The very intelligence in the body will make sure that when it senses the air is pure and alive, the way the body breathes will be different. With this exchange of air, cleansing will happen within the system. If you are in pure air, it is important to bring the breath to a dynamic state with some activity. You do not have to do too vigorous an activity – just enough to breathe slightly deeper than normal for a period of time. Especially for growing children, this is very important because it greatly enhances the body’s integrity and strength.
If you are not able to take yourself out on a daily basis, you can do a simple yogic practice called nadi shuddhi at home to cleanse the breath.
Fire accounts for another part of your elemental makeup. What kind of fire burns within you? Is it the fire of greed, hatred, anger, resentment, lust, love, or compassion? If you cleanse the element of fire, once again your physical and mental wellbeing will be well-taken care of. You become an equanimous and exuberant being. A simple process you can do to cleanse the fire within you is get some sunlight every day. Though we have contaminated every other element, fortunately, sunlight cannot be contaminated – it has remained pure. Make best use of that.
If you wish to, you can light a fire with an organic substance like straw or firewood, without any oil, and stand facing the fire with open hands and open eyes for three minutes. Then stand with your back to it, exposing your spine for three minutes. This process cleanses your aura and brings about a new sense of resurgence in the system. It rekindles and reconnects the fire within with the fire outside. This is the basis of all fire-based rituals of the East.
If having a fire is not practical for you, at least light a lamp with vegetable oil or ghee and be around this lamp. First, sit facing the lamp, then turn around and sit so that the fire element within you gets rekindled.
The fifth and most expansive dimension of the elemental composition is akash or etheric space. Akash has a certain intelligence. The nature, quality, and power of your life is essentially determined by how much access you have to the akashic intelligence. There is only a limited amount of water, air, earth, and fire, but the akashic dimension is limitless. If your access to it expands, both your perception and intelligence will grow.
One simple process you can do to find more access to the akashic intelligence is, after sunrise, before the sun crosses a 30° angle, look up at the sky and bow down to akash for holding you and this planet in place. After the sun crosses 30°, sometime during the day, look up and bow down again. Within 40 minutes after sunset, look up at the sky and once again bow down to the etheric space around us that is holding everything in place.
If you get akash to co-operate with your life energies, life will happen in magical ways. An intelligence that you have never thought possible will become yours.
Editor’s Note: This article is based on a talk by Sadhguru for the “5 Minutes for Inner Exploration” video that was created for the International Day of Yoga 2015.