The Elements as an Archetype of Transformation:
An Exploration of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire
The elemental mandala can facilitate robust and healthy communication between individuals as well as within larger group settings. It can be used as a diagnostic tool, helping to identify entrenched communication patterns, while providing a practical set of exercises and principles upon which these patterns can be shifted towards a style of communicating that is more appropriate to the goal of the particular situation. When the elemental mandala is used consciously by a group, it can provide a powerful tool for regulating dialogue when situations arise in which communication might normally get stuck, move too fast, or leave participants feeling disempowered or frustrated. As a mediator, the elemental cycle serves both as an objective diagnostic tool and as a source for understanding as we seek more balanced and holistic modes of communication.
In a group setting, the goal is to provide a shared language of process which opens avenues for heightened awareness of the movement of meaning within the group. The elemental qualities help objectify the often murky and complicated realm of communication by providing powerful metaphors which help focus consciousness on specific strategies for raising the level of communicating. Taken up individually, the elemental mandala becomes a major tool for working through difficult interactions, helping bring a flexibility and resilience while suggesting strategies that help smooth communication. In this chapter I introduce the four elemental modes of communication, give an overview of some practical work, share responses to people who have used the elemental cycle, and end with a series of practical techniques and considerations that can be useful for actually applying the elemental cycle to communication.