This is an excellent exercise to be practised outdoors in a morning. It gets us back in touch with the earth and the world around us. As a salute to the day and to the four corners of this world it is an appreciation of the world we live in and our physical presence. As such it should be performed with great awareness of the elements and with a sense of appreciation.
Salute to the Four Corners, in Two Directions
This exercise repeats a set of movement and standing to 4 directions, turning clockwise and then reversing the movement turning anti-clockwise. As you face each direction you focus your attention on a different energy centre, rising up through the body. You start with the base centre, then tan tien, solar plexus and heart as you turn clockwise and then throat, third eye, crown and heart as you turn anti-clockwise.
You always start facing the most beautiful direction and every time you come back to that direction you come to your heart centre.
The basic components of each iteration are:
– breathing with the earth
– movement with the 6 elements
– a prayer to the earth
Stand with the feet together hands resting on the Tan Tien, right hand on top of left. Focus your attention on the Tan Tien. Relax and feel the body sink, feel the physical connection to the earth through the feet and feel the pull of the earth on the body. Feel the energy of the earth rise to the tan tien, through the feet, ankles, knees and hips. Feel the warmth behind the hands. Feel yourself drawn up. Smile to your eyes. Focus your attention on the heart centre.
Opening prayer, raise your arms up to the sides reaching up to a light above the crown. Bring the hands together above the crown and draw down as if bringing down a light through your crown, third eye and throat down to the heart. At the heart bow saying a silent prayer dedicating the exercise.
Continue to bring the hands down to the solar plexus, tan tien and base, gradually opening the hands and stepping out with the feet shoulder width apart and the hands palm down as if touching the earth.
Breathe with the Earth
Feel yourself breathing, feel the abdomen expand as you breathe in and contract as you breathe out. Let the hands rise and fall slightly with the breath. Imagine that you and the earth are breathing together as if the body and earth breathe as one. Feel as though the earth in breathing into the relevant energy centre, starting with the base centre and working up as you face different directions.
Earth Element – Lifting the Earth. Turn the waist to the left, feeling as though you are lifting the earth.
Air element – Waving hands. Turn back to the right, right hand at heart, left hand at tan tien level
Water element – Ripples in a still Pond. Turn left both hands down as if rippling through the water, transfer all the weight onto the left foot as you turn.
Fire element – Fire Hand. Step to the right and slightly behind and turn the body to the right, pushing with the left hand level with the heart.
Spaciousness – Silken hands. Turn left again, drawing the left hand across the throat.
Consciousness – Reflections in a Mirror. Turn right again with the right hand facing the third eye centre, left hand pushes through again.
Merging – Reach out slightly with the left hand and draw in towards yourself, bringing the left foot forwards to the right foot. Stand with the feet together and the hands at the tan tien.
Breathe into the relevant centre. Feeling the centre and the quality of the earth relevant to that centre. Bring the hands up and bow as in the opening prayer. Saying a prayer of appreciation for the centre, element and qualities that the earth brings.
You have now turned 90 degrees and as you come out of the prayer step out again to shoulder width and work with the next centre.
Repeat 4 times and then reverse the movement, starting with the left hand rising and stepping left so you repeat 4 times in an anti-clockwise direction.
After you have worked all the way up to the crown centre, then the final breathing and closing prayer is at the heart centre, which completes the whole sequence.
Suggested prayers for each direction can be found at the Seven Prayers of the Earthly Mother.
Hints and Tips
If doing this outdoors don’t worry particularly about the compass points, but more about your natural surroundings. The ideal is to face the most beautiful direction at the start and finish of the sequence.
Try to feel each of the elements as you go through the movement and take time to root and connect after each turn.
As you face different directions some will seem less attractive than others. Try not to judge them but rather to appreciate them whatever they are like.
It is also a good routine to do indoors particularly where there is limited space.
Stand for a while at the end in full appreciation and awareness.