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Tips, Hints, and Secrets

Help in working with the cycle:

  1. This one bears repeating: the most useful outcome of working with the elemental cycle is not to obtain an answer to any specific question. More important is the way that such work changes our sensitivity to the subtleties of the whole range of potential manifestations of phenomena in general. In other words, working with the elemental cycle develops our capacity to understand and work with phenomena in a robust, integral, and healthy way. It objectifies our consciousness, smoothes out our tendencies to approach things from a one-sided or entrenched perspective, opens up possibilities for change on any number of scales and levels, allows deeper entry into otherwise complex, subtle, and confusing phenomena, and provides continuous feedback about our own evolution.
  2. Your initial question can be about anything – there are no wrong questions. However, you may find a list of potential areas to which one might apply the elemental cycle helpful. The following is a tiny sample of valid ‘research questions’:
    1. “Why do I feel fearful when the topic of _____ arises?”
    2. “What should I eat?”
    3. “How can I reduce the stress in my life?”
    4. “How can I change my habit of _____ ?”
    5. “What is my purpose in life?”
    6. “How can I communicate more effectively?”
    7. “How should I plan a presentation about _____ for _____ ?”
    8. “What is the nature of cell division?”
    9. “How is granite formed?”
    10. “How does a lily grow?”
    11. “Why do I have difficulty communicating with _____ ?”
    12. “How do I learn this computer program?”
    13. “How does the weather affect mood?”
    14. “Where should I live?”
    15. “Should I change jobs?”
    16. “What are the effects of watching television?”
    17. “How can I find something sacred in my life?”
    18. “Am I investing my money wisely?”
    19. “What school is best for my child?”
    20. “Why do I have this health problem?”
    21. “How can I find time to _____ ?”
    22. “What is the nature of the elemental cycle?”
  3. The questions for each element are just guides designed to connect your consciousness to the archetype behind the element.  Do not feel that you must answer every question.  Feel free to make up your own questions at each level.  Once you get the ‘mood’ of each element, you might dispense with the verbal aspect of the questions and simply approach your phenomenon in the mood of each element, where your consciousness embodies each elemental mode in its structure and function according to your will.
  4. When recording your impressions after each exercise, anything is game.  Do not feel that you must restrict yourself to thoughts or feelings that seem overtly well-connected to the phenomenon.  Allow yourself to be aware of the subtleties of your experience, and do not necessarily discount anything.  Sometimes the key to the phenomenon lies in a subtle or seemingly unrelated image or feeling that occurs.
  5. Everyone will move through the elemental cycle in a way that is unique.  There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. 
  6. As you become more familiar with each elemental stage, feel free to spend more or less time with each elemental stage as appropriate, or as guided by your intuition.  Pay particular attention to any feelings that may occur when considering how long to stay with a given element, or when considering the question “Am I done with this element?”  This will help inform you about which elements you have a tendency to ‘live’ in by default.  The goal is to be able to build the capacity to work from any element according to the needs of the situation at hand.
  7. Try to find a rhythm of moving through the elements that is right for you.  You may try one element every day or so, or you may try to move from Earth to Air in one sitting, repeated over a period of a few days or a week.
  8. Let the cycle itself be your guide.  Continue to rhythmically place your attention on each element in a questioning mood as you feel inclined.  Do not expect particular results, but allow the process to connect your consciousness to your chosen phenomenon and lead you to the next phase.  Be detailed.  Be flexible.  Be willing to let go.  Be creative.
  9. Earth Tip:  To begin with, you may find that it is almost impossible to notice details of your phenomenon without also experiencing an accompanying judgments or emotion.  In fact, the details may even consist entirely of a judgment you make about the phenomenon.  This is normal – simply note your judgment or emotion in your journal.  In working with the cycle, you will slowly learn how to notice details about your phenomenon without becoming distracted by any emotional triggers, interpretations, or desires to have the phenomenon be any different than it appears.  At the same time, this does not mean that such things will no longer occur to you.  Rather, it means that you will strengthen your capacity to keep a part of your consciousness in “witnessing” or “observer” mode, regardless of the complexities and drama of your inner experience.  This part of you simply and profoundly says “this is what it is”, without any judgment, and is often accompanied by the feeling “and it is really okay that it is this way”.
  10. The List of Metaphorical Qualities and the List of Physical Qualities provide a useful way to get a handle on the elements and their transformation. Examining the columns (one for each element) should give you a decent all-around impression of the individual elements, while working with the rows should help you get a feeling for the transformative capacity of the elemental cycle.  If you “get stuck” in an element, briefly scanning the column for the next element in the cycle may help your transition.  If you “don’t get” an element, briefly scanning the column for that same element may help put you in the right frame of mind for working with that element.
  11. Working with the elemental cycle is working with an archetype of change.  Although the elemental cycle can be used simply for external research, if worked with rhythmically, it will naturally lead one towards self-transformation, and can be quite instructive and illuminative with respect to the training of the inner life.  In other words, do not be surprised if, when working with the elemental cycle in any context, insights about your own inner life occur.  This is a gift of the well known principle: “As above, so below; as below, so above.”
  12. Because the elemental cycle stems from very objective principles of change, its own nature helps correct any personal interpretations, misconceptions, or blind spots that we may have with regards to how the process works in a given situation.  It is, in this sense, self-correcting, and can therefore be relied upon as a guide in a way that we could call hygienic.
  13. The effectiveness of the elemental cycle relies in large part upon how you use it.  It works best when your will is applied to it with calm enthusiasm in a rhythmic way.  The quality and rhythm of your attention is more important than any theoretical understanding or skillful manipulation.

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