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A Ritual To Come Back To Yourself When You Feel Pulled In A Million Directions

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Expert OpinionA Ritual To Come Back To Yourself When You Feel Pulled In A Million Directions


By Loraine Van Tuyl, Ph.D., CHT


Loraine Van Tuyl, Ph.D., CHT, is a shamanic ecopsychologist and licensed clinical psychologist.

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mbg Creative x Tessy Morelli
/ Stocksy

If you were lost in the woods, would you follow a compass that was leading you in circles? Would you stay quiet if the guide you were with insisted that their compass was more accurate than the navigational clues you were picking up from the sun, the mountains, and the current of the river?

Of course not.

And yet, so many of us don’t trust our sense of inner knowing on the journey through life. Once our inner wisdom is reduced to a faint whisper, we run the risk of losing our connection to our true nature–and its corresponding system of checks and balances–altogether.

Our connection with the Earth and the elements.

As an ecopsychologist, I believe that the elements (air, fire, earth, water) balance and harmonize within our body’s ecosystem, just as they do on Earth. We can restore trust and confidence in ourselves by aligning with each of these elements. This can be accomplished with what I call a re-Tree-ting practice. Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: Sit upright against the back of a chair or a wall, and imagine entering a “soul sanctuary” or inner natural landscape.

Imagine leaning your head and back against a sacred tree guide at the center of this inner scape. Trust Earth to support you while you open yourself up to guidance and energy from the sun above and the soil below, just like trees, our oldest ancestors, do.

Step 2: Imagine facing your highest truth with the help of Air.

Visualize asking your Air (wisdom) guide to breathe more spaciousness into tense situations. Ask this guide to dislodge your ego-mind from familiar, but false, stories, catchphrases, societal norms, and core beliefs. Notice how floating up with Air helps you to see the big picture, think out of the box, and access insights, fresh ideas, intuitive ingenuity, and creative resilience when solving problems.

Step 3: Next, reconnect with Fire.

The Fire (protection) guide fuels your life energy and passions and helps you set healthy boundaries. Feelings such as burnout and fuming anger serve a protective purpose by telling you where your energy field begins and ends.

Its ultimate goal is to provide protection and nudge you toward balance, not burn without limits to hurt and control others. Rekindling and reigniting your relationship with your sacred inner fire and passion is essential in regulating your energy, mood, and physical and emotional immunity.

Step 4: Ask the Earth to help you keep track of your organic, tangible growth.

An Earth (grounding) guide will help you to grow tall. Your history is recorded in your inner cycles and circles, just like a tree. Earth provides structure and stability and allows your mind to align itself to Mother Nature’s wisdom and slow pace as you mature through the seasons. Earth helps you to ground, become more patient, stop comparing yourself to others, and enjoy the blooming of your flowers and sun-ripening of your fruit in your own time.

Step 5: Ask the Water for comfort and clarity.

The Water (circulation) guide frees you up to interpret your needs and emotions–your energy in motion. Through your blood, sweat, and tears (and many other circulating fluids), it cleanses, nourishes, detoxes, and translates the needs of your heart, mind, body, and soul into language and feelings. It invites you to immerse in the wonder-filled flow of life, make more space for oceanic depths and mystery, and let go of judgments and fear.

Step 6: Sit at the intersection of these four elements.

I believe that the nexus of these elements is where your sacred heart compass–your true self–resides. It’s where luscious lava kisses air and water to form fertile, dark land. Like the natural world around us, you are a dynamic work of art, constantly dissolving and reorganizing creative energy that moves through you into more highly integrated expressions of consciousness and vitality.

The takeaway.

Trusting our heart compass as we navigate pitfalls and pressures is trickier now than ever before. It’s easy to be misguided by disconnected leaders and feel overwhelmed by the many unnamed imbalances and shiny objects that are woven into every aspect of society.



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Fortunately, nature and the elements are always accessible as a tuning fork; a system of checks and balances that we can return to any time we feel lost. By listening to their guidance, we are able to discern between truth versus trauma, heart expansions versus hurt contraction, love versus fear, and the wishes and perceptions of our higher soul-centric self versus those of an overbearing ego-centric persona.

Nature and the elements can provide us with trustworthy data checkpoints whenever we’ve got an inkling that we’re lost or headed in the wrong direction. Refining our built-in connection to nature and the elements ensures the needle of our heart compass is indeed pointing toward our True North.

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