Exploring the Element of Air

You may recall me talking about an online course I’m taking called The Wonder Sessions. The current module I’m in is about exploring the elements: earth, air, fire, and water. We started with earth, and connecting with the spirit of earth in all its forms (rocks, plants, and trees) was so nourishing for me, I hardly wanted to move on.

Looking up at feet of mother and daughter against a background of clouds in the sky

This month, the focus is on Air. Up until now, I had assumed that it was the element I liked the least. I associate Air with the loud, strong Santa Ana winds that bring heat and fire danger, or the cold Utah winter snowstorms of my childhood that brought grey dreariness for months on end. For so much of my life, Air has been the bringer of the unknown, the uncontrollable. But in the spirit of opening up to curiosity, I started playing with Air this week.

As I’ve explored my relationship to it, I’ve noticed little things that I like about Air. My delight at the way palm trees sway in the breeze… there’s a playful quality to the long leaves, like that of dipping toes into cold water or babies tapping fingers over piano keys just to see what happens. The carefree feeling of zipping down the highway with the windows rolled down on a bright spring day, music cranked up loud so I can sing at the top of my lungs with the wind in my hair. The fresh, cool air of an autumn breeze coming in through the back door at dusk, bringing clear clean energy to a house that’s felt stagnant as it baked in the afternoon sun. The joy of watching the clouds move and change in the sky on summer afternoons, marveling at the amalgamation of air and water to form these puffy white beings, reminding me to go slowly and be willing to shift as needed. The fun of watching hummingbirds dart to and fro, their little wings harnessing the power of Air to move quickly then hover then dash away again.

I realize now there is a renewal energy to Air that feels enjoyable… freeing… and playful. Like the playful abandon of a toddler running down a hill, almost ready to tip over and tumble down at any moment.

Then, as I reflected some more, I realized there’s a beauty in Air, too… the way softening the breath moving in and out of my lungs can calm my nerves, or the way I can harness Air to sing a melody to my children when they’re upset. And the way many animals have developed the ability to vocalize with Air… the way Air subtly shaped by our bodies can create sounds so varied… from the squawk of my neighbor’s chickens to the songs of the whales to the melodies of mothers and grandmothers soothing their babies.

I’ve found joy in noticing all the nuance and subtlety to Air.

Close-up photo of borage blossoms

Lately I have spent a lot of time in my garden… sometimes with purpose (planting seedlings, weeding out unwanted growth, harvesting herbs) and sometimes to just sit, and to notice. Now, in addition to the warmth of the sun and the strength of the trees, I also notice the freshness of the breeze gently blowing through the hairs on my arms and the rustle of the wind in the palm trees. Yesterday I joked that my Instagram feed has become nothing but photos from my garden, but seriously… garden mindfulness has kept me sane these last many months (and is a variation on the Embodied Mindfulness sessions I offer clients). There is a simple beauty from sitting with nature and just noticing what is. As a fellow Wonder Sessions student said, sitting with the trees just as they are helps me remember myself… and accept me, just as I am.