The yogic system views the human body in accordance with the five elements of nature: Earth, Fire, Water, Space, Ether. Reflecting on the relationship between humanity and the earth could, therefore, be akin to how individuals treat themselves or one another according to the characteristics of the five elements. This mix elemental mix and their expressions can create our unique identity.
Let's take Sukhothai, an ancient city in Thailand, as an example.
Their advanced irrigation system, which supported their population, can be seen as a metaphor for how the Earth and Water elements within our body help balance our physicality, emotions, and psychology. This balance of Earth and Water on these three3 aspects of self-forms the roots of our core strength and identity – just as the perfect application of the irrigation system supported the population of Sukhothai. This is ROOT ENERGY in yoga. It is called the Mula Bhanda. It is composed of the elements of Earth & Water. They are the root consciousness associated with the reptilian brain. It is what it is.
Water – is akin to our relationships and the fluidity of emotions. Sometimes, we are
flooded with positive emotions and occasionally destructive. Both need boundaries to maintain the balance. This is just like Sukhothai's water systems, which often needed to be changed to navigate between drought and monsoon.
During droughts, these artificial rivers would have the bottom stacked, and sides tightened to support water pressure. However, during monsoons, this support would be removed, revealing a deeper and more natural-looking river with curved edges, allowing water to flow naturally.
For this to happen, it needed an understanding of how the land and water could bring out the best of each other and support the population. Or destroy each other at the peril of the surrounding villages.
This analogy can help us to understand the energy of EARTH & WATER within the interconnection of the mind, body and emotions. The balance can range from being dense, like solid soil, toor completely flowing like water with no container. In either case, it is a balance between the states of matter - solid (physical structure being the body) & fluidity (in mind and emotions).
When emotions start to flow – let's say anger and love for now – the associated feelings can spill out of control (either positively or negatively). So, adding conscious boundaries and digging deep to soften the triggers can help direct the energy to where it can be most productive.
However, if the emotions are stagnant and not expressed the increasing internal pressure can build up until they are released. Usually uncontrollably - as the barriers and boundaries constructed to control the flow are shattered.
How do Emotions and the Body Define Us?
Through this analogy, it is easy to see how the history of the golden city of Sukhothai can be a metaphor for how to manage Root Energies of consciousness. This theme can run deep as emotions are tied to the physical and the nervous system. Sometimes, our feelings can be more visible from our body, such as trembling with fear, sadness and happiness. Even things ingrained into us as evidenced by science. It shows us that some of our behaviourism is inherent and not learned . By mastering our emotions, we can master our body and vice versa.
And this can be one of the roles of an asana practice. With this awareness, we can build mindfulness and resilience off the mat when challenged or triggered.
The City and its Foundation
Sukhothai, is also believed to be the first capital of Thailand. It holds a significant place in history – just as Root Energy can hold our stories, history and heritage. Many cultures hold such heritage as sacred to be honoured.
Sukhothai is often credited with protecting and spreading Buddhism across Asia. Today, it stands as a tourist site as well as a pilgrimage destination. It is a city that stays sacred to its heritage. Though it has experienced conquest and triumph, it continues to embody its Buddhist identity.
Similarly, as individuals, we undergo constant change throughout our lives, yet our essence remains, regardless of whether we appear to be aggressors or victims.
For example, I often refer to the second chakra as the place of the sacred self. It represents the tide of emotions, relationships and procreation. This means hat our emotions can vary from being a tidal wave to a still lake. An aggressor to conquer a part of self - or others; or a victim surrendering to the whims of an aggressor within or external to self.
So, much like the city of gold that has witnessed both conquest and reverence, our own personal journeys can entail moments of strength and vulnerability. Through these experiences, our unique identities can be shaped and refined by circumstances or awareness.
The question is, are we a tourist to the sacred site of the root energy; or on a pilgrimage to seek answers for personal growth for our highest good and service to others?
Yoga Asana – to sit in a yoga posture – especially a challenging one – is a safe space to reflect on such a Quan drum.
Sukhothai's architecture and lessons for life
The architectural marvels of Sukhothai showcase the city's rich history and serve as a testament to its enduring spirit. The intricate temples and structures stand as reminders of the past, while still resonating with meaning and significance in the present
This can be akin to the solid state of the Earth Element being the physical body. It serves as a container to support the expressions of emotions. It also showcases the history of our life in its structure. It can also be used as a vehicle to release emotions or hold onto them.
In a similar vein, our own lives are a blend of the old and the new. We carry with us the lessons and experiences of the past with us, which inform our present choices and actions. Just as Sukhothai's architecture has adapted and evolved over time, so do we, as individuals, continuously growing and transforming while honouring our roots.
How can yoga asana help?
Yoga can support us by showing how well we can balance physicality and emotions as we work towards achieving success with postures. Success is the ability to hold the pose in a place of calmness - as opposed to the technicality of achieving the perceived perfect representation of the asana (posture).
By activating the mula bandha (earth element) and Svadhistana chakra (water element), the practitioner learns to awaken and control the elemental mix on a physical, emotional and mental level. This helps develop self-regulation to support balance.
The Quest for Balance
Sukhothai's advanced irrigation system played a vital role in sustaining the city and its people. The harmonious interplay of elements ensured that the population had access to the necessary resources, achieving a state of equilibrium in daily life.
Likewise, within ourselves, finding balance is essential. Yoga considers our physical well-being, emotional stability, and psychological harmony that contribute to our overall sense of wholeness. By nurturing and balancing the foundational elements within us, we can cultivate inner resilience from a steady mind, physical strength from the deep core muscles, and a deeper understanding of our own identity as our sacred self.
In conclusion, Sukhothai serves as a profound metaphor for human experience.
It teaches us that amidst the storms of life, we can find balance, strength and resilience within ourselves. We can achieve this by balancing the elements of Earth and Water for steadiness physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. In doing so, we also create a foundation of transformation.
By embracing change, honouring our roots, and seeking harmony, we can navigate life's journey with grace and achieve our own golden city of fulfilment and self-discovery along our Pathway to Peacefulness.
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