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Earth: Grounding Our Practice

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In the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha taught practitioners to contemplate the four elements—earth, fire, water, and air—as a foundation of mindfulness practice. Our 2020 Meditation Month teacher, Sebene Selassie, shows how this oft-overlooked practice of examining the elements as basic metaphors for experience can help us see our inherent connections to nature. Each Sunday, we’re releasing a new video, which builds on the previous week’s lesson.

In this first video, on the element of earth, Sebene explains how we can stay present with the experience of the body—creating a sense of stability in our practice that will last throughout this month-long commitment to meditation. In the second week, we explore the element of water—noticing the things that are fluid and transmutable in our experience. Next, the element of fire shows us how to tune into the reality of impermanence, one of the Buddha’s central teachings. Finally, the element of air reminds us of our interconnectedness with all beings.

Sebene Selassie is a dharma teacher, writer, coach, and consultant. She began studying Buddhism over 30 years ago and received a BA from McGill University in Religious and Women’s Studies and an MA from the New School where she focused on cultural studies and race. She is the former Executive Director of New York Insight Meditation Center, has served on the boards of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and Sacred Mountain Sangha, and is a teacher on the Ten Percent Happier app. Her first book, You Belong: A Call for Connection, will be published by HarperOne in August 2020.