I am often amazed at the restorative power of nature. Any metaphorical weight on my shoulders… any stress, confusion, sadness, or anger manages to lift and drift away (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot) when I spend quiet time outside. Whether I am walking, biking, kayaking, or simply sitting, a little time alone in nature helps me get closer to an energetic equilibrium. Every sort of natural setting… forest, meadow, jungle, desert, lake, or ocean, provides an opportunity to channel the power of the elements for healing.
Beaches, however, offer a special sort of transformative magic. It is at the sandy ocean shoreline that all four elements converge in full force, each with their own restorative energies. I find it to be a particularly powerful place to meditate, and thankfully, as a Long Islander, there is no shortage of coastal access. The elemental crossroad that exists at the beach, in all of its awesomeness, awakens the senses, brings mental clarity, and heals the soul.
Earth energy enhances grounding and presence. The best way to channel earth energy is through the soles of your feet, which are usually bare at the beach anyway! As I stand ankle-deep in the ocean, I feel my toes sink slowly, deeper and deeper into the sand. As I am pulled slightly down, I envision energy simultaneously rising up and through the soles of my feet from the very center of the earth. This push and pull grounds me to reality and helps bind me to the present moment.
Air energy fosters creativity and rational thought. I take deep, slow breaths at the shore and notice how the smells are unique to this place; slightly briny and fishy, but clean and natural. I visualize each inhalation of ocean air penetrating the lungs and oxygenating the blood that flows through my body and up into my brain. I inhale clarity and ingenuity, and exhale confusion, cloudy thoughts, and mental blocks.
Water energy is that of emotion. Like the surface of the sea, our emotional states can be calm and reflective, and other times rough and turbulent. As I look out at the ocean, I consider the cleansing nature of salt. I envision each wave moving back out to sea, drawing out any unfavorable emotions in the same way salt draws infection from a wound. Any anger, confusion, or sadness is pulled away by the tides. My soul is left refreshed and purified.
Fire is the energy of force, drive, action, and will. At most Long Island beaches you’ll find yourself in full sun without the canopy of any trees. The reflection of the sun off the surfaces of the water and white sand adds to the intensity of solar light and heat. I focus my attention on the sensation of the sun’s rays on the very top of my head (crown chakra) and allow that fire to burn down through my entire body, invoking power and strength.
Channeling energy in this manner at the beach is truly one of my favorite joys of summer. Easy access to oceans is a true gift of living in this part of New York, and I do not take it for granted. If you are blessed with beach access as well, you may not choose to consciously associate the sand, surf, sun, and breeze with elemental energies as I do.
This is fine. You can still reap the restorative properties of the beach just the same. Simply enjoy a reprieve from the hustle bustle noise of your everyday life, relish the vastness, and feel your connection to something larger than yourself. Let the sheer immensity of the ocean as you gaze out at the horizon put yourself and your problems into perspective.