Breathing In the Elements ~ by Marj Ivancic

I have a goal to meditate one day. But that will be no easy feat for me. I’m an introvert, a storyteller, and sadly, a dweller.  I can beat a thought to death, resurrect it, and kill it again with all the skill of a necromancing Van Helsing.
photo courtesy of WillyWoodTeaching

So, knowing that, I’ve decided to start small and focus first on deep breathing. Not only is this a significant part of the meditative practice, it boasts a host of benefits all its own—reducing risk of heart attacks, easing muscle tension, increased energy, etc. And it can be done anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t require a gym membership, special clothes or equipment. Nor do I have to carve out hours of my day to dedicate toward it.

There are many breathing techniques from which to choose, but the one I like best incorporates the four elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire—the bars and notes that constitute the hymn of Life.

photo courtesy

EARTH - Inhale through the nose; exhale through the nose
WATER – Inhale through the nose; exhale through the mouth
AIR – Inhale through the mouth; exhale through the mouth
FIRE – Inhale through the mouth; exhale through the nose

As I follow the cycle—three of each of the above for a total of twelve breaths—I focus on what those elements mean to me:

photo courtesy

EARTH - Not only the dark, rich soil that is the backbone of the natural world but the natural world in its entirety. The full cycle—the seed, the soil, the sun, the rain, the tree, the fruit, back to the seed. It is birth and growth and death. It is a return to, a recognition of, our animal selves.

WATER – The essence of life without which all things would shrivel and die. It is the flow and continuation of our lives, of time. Of the world. The persistence to overcome as a drop of water shapes the rock bed over time.

AIR – The food that feeds our lungs and our heart’s blood. The cleansing breath that blows away the toxins poisoning our bodies and minds. 

FIRE – The light in the dark. The flame at the core of earth that warms us. The heat of our passions both of mind and body as well as spirit. It is our creativity. Our sexuality. The relationships we cherish.

photo courtesy pinterest

While I’m focused on the order of the breath and what the breath represents, I am not thinking about my To Do list, or that conversation that went awry, or that afront taken or given. I’m remembering the most basic of things.  I am free of the clutter that wedges itself between our souls and truth. 

Honestly, I’m not sure I’m doing any of this right. But then again, I’m not sure there is only one right way. Like most things—what works for one person may not work for another.  All I know is that those few minutes of practice give me a respite from my overactive brain, which may one day lead to true meditation.


  1. I love this, Marj. I've never been able to sit still long enough to meditate, either, but I think I could do this. Thanks for sharing your technique.

  2. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my inability to meditate! lol. I'm glad you think this might help you. Let me know how it goes!!!

  3. Thanks for sharing some useful techniques.

  4. Love this!! It is so interesting. I've always wanted to learn to meditate, and these tips are amazing! Thank you!

    1. I really admire the folks who can do it! Maybe we should start a meditation help group!



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