Breath of the Four Elements
2004 by Ed Hirsch

Earth Breath: Grounding

Stand relaxed and balanced, feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Sense deeply into the arms and legs, breathing slowly and deeply in the belly. Inhaling, draw earth energy upward (to the belly, heart, or crown); exhaling, feel the energy rooting down the legs and into the earth. (If seated, root the energy down the legs and down the base of the spine.)

Earth Breath: Moving

Combine deep, slow breathing with slow movement, e.g., inhaling as the arms rise, exhaling as the arms lower. Move as through water. Breath, body, and mind are as one movement.

Water Breath: Flowing

Feel the smooth flowing of breathing/being breathed on both inhale and exhale. Follow the fine thread of the breath, gently pausing in the flow between breaths, as a pendulum pauses before it reverses the direction of its swing. Deeply sense within as you feel yourself in the flow.

Water Breath: Deepening

Begin with a deep belly to chest breath. Hold comfortably, and then release through the mouth as a sigh. If you can, sound an audible "Ah." Feel yourself settling in and deepening on the exhale. Repeat if needed. Then, breathing through the nose, feel that on each exhale you are deepening, taking a journey into your depth. You might visualize descending in an elevator.

Air Breath: Relating

Recognize yourself in relation to all that is, that all is interrelated. On the inhales, draw the energy of the whole into yourself. On the exhales, extend your energy out to the whole. Or, on the inhales, expand your energy to embrace and be one with the whole; on the exhales, feel the energy of the whole coalescing into yourself. Or, on the inhales, draw together the Above and the Below, spiraling together. On the exhales, release the unified energy in all directions.

Air Breath: Focusing

Breathe deeply and slowly in the belly (hara), inhaling to fullness, exhaling to emptiness. Stay one-pointed with the breath at every stage of the breathing.

Air Breath: Observing

Inhaling, observe that you are inhaling. Exhaling, observe that you are exhaling.

Fire Breath: Channeling

Visualize a Sun or Higher Self above. Inhaling, draw down the Light through the crown into the heart as the place of the Indwelling Light. Feel alignment with the Higher Power and one with it. Exhaling, release into the All-Pervading Light, feeling one with All. Or circulate the Light: Inhale from the crown down the front (incarnating), exhale up the back (transcending).

Ether Breath: Being

Inhaling, open to the Fullness of Being. Exhaling, release into the Emptiness of the Void, Non-Being. Let the breath slow down, become transparent, opening you into the timeless Now.

Ed Hirsch: Writings