The Qualities of Air
The qualities of air are more subtle that the previous elements. For a start air can’t be seen or heard, only its affects are registered through the senses, but it can be felt, and it is our first and most vital form of nourishment. In that respect air is in all that can be felt, but is not material, such as love, compassion, peace, bliss, harmony, understanding, empathy, unity and forgiveness (to name a few).
Air is embodied in the breath and is closely associated with the lungs and the heart. Breathing is our first and most vital form of nourishment and Oxygen is carried around the body by the blood in order to nourish our cells. Whilst it is subtle it is also powerful and we experience the power of movement through the arms, which extend from the heart. When we touch gently, massage, extend a helping hand or reach out to a friend in need, we are extending the subtle qualities of the heart and of the air element. Likewise, when we draw in nourishment through touch, whether through hugging or massage, we are drawing in subtle yet powerful nourishment from outside of our own bodies. Think about the feeling of receiving a hug when it’s really needed. This is the power of this subtle element.
Calm balanced and harmonious. The mental qualities of air are light and at ease with the world around us. We experience the world harmoniously and might feel ‘Light-hearted’ or ‘free spirited’. In our language we might experience a longing for ‘a breath of fresh air’ when we feel heavy or hemmed in. We might talk about someone’s presence as ‘a breath of fresh air’. We’re speaking about the qualities of freshness, something new and energising, a change in routine or leaning towards challenge and change. Experiencing joy, compassion and gratitude are qualities which resonate with the lightness of air.
Affirmations can be a useful way to awaken the energetic qualities of Air.
“I am light-hearted and joyful” or “I am ready to invite more joy into my life”
“I give and receive love freely”. Or “I am working towards giving and receiving love every day”
“I am loved and worthy of love”
“I am peaceful” or “I am making choices every day to invite more peace into my life”
You can work with affirmations in various ways, what’s important is that the affirmation feels true and that can take time and work. It can take some negotiation and time to find the words that feel true. Start with something small if necessary, something that is already true for you and easily accessible, rather than expecting a universal affirmation to feel comfortable immediately. Try one of these exercises:
- Choose an affirmation and write it out 10 times in a diary or notebook.
- Look yourself in the eye, in the mirror and say the affirmation out loud 10 times
- Silently repeat the affirmation 10 times before you go to sleep, or 10 times as soon as you wake up.
Notice any objections that come up and address those separately. Address the objections with compassion, for example ‘I know it’s hard to find joy, but could you be willing to give it a try?’ or ‘I know feeling loved is hard, but can you notice how loving you are, and how that feeling might be reciprocated?’
Activities which connect us with the Air element:
- Make a list of your daily habits, activities and responsibilities. Then draw a circle around each thing which roughly estimates the time you spend doing it in relation to the next. Colour each circle Red for ‘Joyless’ Amber for ‘Neutral’ and Green for ‘Joyful’. Notice how much of your day brings you joy. What can you do to address the balance?
- Make a list of relationships you have, friends, family, work colleagues. Contemplate each relationship and notice how you feel. Does it radiate love and support, does it feel balanced and effortless, or does it feel heavy and draining? Your reaction and body language will tell you. For those that feel heavy and draining, can you create space in order to protect yourself and your own light-heartedness?
In Balance – The Yoga Sutras state that “The mind becomes clear when the qualities of the heart are cultivated” – the qualities are Goodwill towards all – particularly those who are experiencing joy. Compassion for those who are suffering. Appreciation of the virtuous and Composure around those who are difficult or threatening to upset our equilibrium.
Out of Balance – We might feel unloved or unworthy of love which makes it very difficult to express goodwill – instead we might experience jealousy or envy. We might see suffering as something that has been brought upon the sufferer by themselves. We might experience disgust or annoyance by those who are virtuous or wholesome and be easily riled by anyone threatening to upset our equilibrium.