The four elements of the divine heart are awakened as we make the journey from the superficial and egoic aspects of the heart (where we are concerned with “my needs”) to the expansive space of the divine, unconditionally loving, deeper soul aspect of the heart (where we are in loving service to all beings). The energy of the heart is the point where energy becomes matter and matter is transmuted into energy; and, as such, we manifest what matters most to us from the energy within our heart. There are specific elements and qualities of the heart that become activated through the exchange of energies with our parents and throughout our early development, interacting with role models, educators, and other persons of influence in our lives. No matter how much our parents loved us, or how wonderful our childhood was, we all have areas where we have an excess or a deficiency of a particular element. Perhaps we had a mother who was completely loving and devoted to our well-being, and also was a bit overbearing or behaved like an anxious “helicopter mom”. Or, maybe our father created a safe, stable environment for us to grow up, yet did not pass along family traditions and so we feel disconnected from our lineage. The heart is also where we develop social identity, trust, wisdom, patience, emotional empowerment, and experience the relationship with our own Soul and/or devotion to the Divine. If we have not been appropriately nurtured and empowered in our early development, we may experience issues in our emerging adult life related to fear of abandonment (including self-abandonment), intimacy in relationships, success in the workplace, or difficulty collaborating with others. As we mature and step into the responsibility of adulthood, we are also joyously responsible for straightening, balancing, and harmonizing our own energy field so that we can live the most authentic version of ourselves.
According to Dharma teacher and author Phillip Moffitt, there are four functions of mothering/fathering that affect our maturation process: nurturing, protection, empowerment, and initiation. (Phillip Moffitt notes that these four functions were inspired by the archetypal psychology work of C.G. Jung and his successors, Robert Moore and Joseph Henderson, M.D.) After studying this work and reflecting on these integral functions, a fundamental relationship with the four directions and elements became apparent:
INITIATION (East-Air): It has been said that birth and our initial breath is our first initiation, and the death of the body with our last breath is our final initiation on Earth. In between, there are many ceremonies and celebrations to commemorate the milestones in life, such as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Quinceanera, baptism, confirmation, graduation, marriage, retirement, just to name a few. Initiations, rituals, and rites of passage allow us to let go of our former roles or status in society and prepare us for new roles in life. Receiving initiations or rites of passage either from your family’s traditions or another lineage, including initiations received from a guru or spiritual teacher, are extremely powerful and can serve as a gateway to illuminated, insightful, and even visionary realms. Preparing a self-initiation ceremony, whether simple or elaborate, can be a powerful way to celebrate life’s transitions; arrange a private ceremony held in nature, or a more social setting with friends and relatives (or anything in between), as long as it reflects who you are and who you are becoming.
EMPOWERMENT (South-Fire): One who is truly empowered, lives life with courage and purpose. Traumas or emotional wounds from childhood experiences, friendships, or peer groups, can leave us feeling small, diminished, and disempowered, even into our adult years. Dealing with these issues in the now can actually shift our energy into a more stable, centered, and empowered state of being. One way to let go of the past is to hold a fire ceremony. Build a small fire in a fireplace, fire pit, or a burning bowl and with each stick or offering made to the fire, let go of past wounds/drama/stories/beliefs, and sing, chant, drum, or move your body as you feel guided. Breath deeply and feel the sensations within your body, as the old traumas burn away and are replaced with courage and light. Offer a Blessing of Gratitude to acknowledge and anchor the healing; take time to integrate, as you are reborn into a new level of empowered being.
NURTURING (West-Water): Compassion blooms from the seeds of healthy nurturing. A heart that has not been sufficiently nurtured often feels unworthy of having their needs met. Let’s be honest, most of us can benefit from a little self-nurturing; if we treated others the way we treat ourselves, we would probably have very few friends. If we are in the habit of not taking good care of ourselves, where do we begin? Begin by looking at yourself from the “outside” view with wonder and recognition of the incredible qualities that you may take for granted from the “inside” perspective. Allow yourself to fall in love with how amazing you are! Write yourself love notes or poems and leave them in places where you will find them later, when you may need some encouragement. Cook yourself a delicious meal, set the table, light candles, play music, all of the things that you would do for an honored guest, then relax and savor the moment. Treat yourself to something you have never experienced before, whether it is a festival, theatre, art or dance class, hot air balloon ride, sauna or spa day, taking a special trip, and fully immerse yourself in it; give yourself permission to relish, delight, and revel with great joy! Most importantly, honor and respect the person you are by following through with commitments and promises you make to yourself, it truly matters.
PROTECTION (North-Earth): Tolerance emerges when we feel protected and receive the necessary guidance to navigate life’s challenges. Even if we didn’t feel protected or safe in our youth, we can offer sanctuary to our inner child and create a haven for our innocence, at any age. Honor your sacredness by maintaining healthy boundaries with others. Be authentic in your self-expression, whether it is through creative expression, in the realm of communication, or how you choose to show up in the world. Let go of the habit of negative self-talk or internal criticism, and offer yourself words of encouragement and supportive self-talk. Practice forgiveness, it lightens the burdens we carry in our hearts. Advocate for yourself by asking for what you need with clarity while respecting the needs of others. Believe in yourself and your abilities, when you do, everyone else will believe in you, as well.
When the four elements of the heart are in harmony, there is peace. When the four elements of the heart are imbalanced, there is suffering. The imbalanced, wounded, or contracted heart resonates with frequencies of the twelve mental states or “vritties” of humanity that create separation: fraud/delusion, lust, indecision/confusion, hope/disappointment, anxiety, repentance, possessiveness/attachment, incompetence, discrimination, impartiality/apathy, arrogance, and defiance. Once the heart is fully awakened and the elements are functioning in harmonious relationship, it resonates with the frequencies of the twelve divine emotions of the heart: joy, peace, kindness, patience, unconditional love, harmony, clarity, compassion, purity, understanding, forgiveness, and bliss.
Performing self-initiation, self-empowerment, self-protection, or self-nurturing practices can activate, heal, balance, and align the energies of the heart. For an uplifting visual reminder, create a sacred space dedicated to your fully awakened heart and fill it with images, keepsakes, found items, or any tokens that represent the energies that need to be strengthened in your life. Every time you gaze, meditate, or interact with this sacred space, you will be increasing the energy supporting your journey of self-fulfillment.
Walk in Beauty,