The Nervous system and the Fire element

Good memories of being with people on a campfire several years ago have recently returned to mind bringing back shared experiences of warmth, colour and joy. It happens in those moments when warm energy circulating between people creates connection, laughter and lasting memories.

Fire in the form of light, warmth or heat have their place in human experience, as much as the other elements such as water, air, space and earth have. Try thinking of a warm sunny day and how that may influence the mind and mood. What is in the nature of sun light that makes one feel more alive? What comes to your mind when you think of fire? What memories are showing up? Is the fire element and its heat something that is pleasing to you, or may be difficult to be around?

There is an internal fire in each of us and in any life form, making it possible for us to get going and maintain some enthusiasm alive. And there are external fires, like a fireplace, or campfires that people warm up around and have a good time together singing, dancing and telling jokes, or those that get out of control and can destroy entire forests and regions, like the recent wildfires in Greece and California.

Unlike the external fire or wildfires, the internal fire may not always be seen or heard until it reaches a level when the person living with it it feels something like some of the following symptoms and sensations: burnout, heartburn, burning sensation, having a fiery reaction, burning ears, feeling on fire, hot and bothered, being under fire, etc. Or, some can be experienced as healthy and positive, such as having a sunny disposition, warm-hearted, feeling fired-up about something, getting along like a house on fire, etc.

For example, the expression “to have fire in your belly” indicates a positive use of the fire element, while “adding fuel to the fire” refers to an excess of fiery energy in a situation. It is so interesting how the various degrees of the fire element in our constitution, feelings and actions have so much influence over people and situations.

Maybe you can remember a recent scenario that brought some heat to your mind, causing you to feel overheated mentally or physically. Anger is usually associated with intense mental heat, while calmness with feeling coolness, although we are all different and can experience emotions in atypical ways as well.

Some people like to gaze at an open fire or just at a candle light, and this gentle gazing can bring on a meditative state.  Meditating on a certain object such as a candle light can have a cleansing effect both on the vision and the mind. This reminds of the connection between the above effects of the fire element in meditation and the ones of the catharsis concept as a therapeutic process of “burning” and releasing of emotions and behaviours associated with unacknowledged trauma; the word originates from a Greek term meaning purging and cleansing.

Follow this link for an informative article offering a perspective on the effect of fire on human life and the development of the mind over time.

The fire element, called Pitta dosha in Ayurveda, in a person’s mental and physical constitution may be associated with tenacity, strength, warmth, compassion and light-hearted disposition when balanced, while an excess of fire tends to lead to hot emotions, anger, agression, skin disorders and impatience. Follow these links to access more information about understanding the power of the fire element in somebody’s constitution:, and

It goes without saying that Fire does not exist in isolation either in nature or in living beings, but is complemented by water, air, space, earth and perhaps many other elements in various forms and degrees. Together they create a dance of energy that is unique to each place and each individual. Imagine the sound of flowing water, the sight of a big campfire, the soft touch of a gentle breeze on your face, the spaciousness of an open field, and the solidity of the ground beneath your feet. What are the unique experiences felt when being in contact with each of these elements?

A balanced degree of fire in somebody’s temperament and physical body contributes to a harmonious functioning of the nervous system, while an over-heated mind may lead to insomnia, intense emotions, restlessness and an attitude of intolerance.

Being curious about how the nervous system is impacted by various states of mind and how they are naturally connected, I have come across interesting information, which I am sharing in the link below. An over-heated state of mind manifests certain tendencies, which are described in the same article, with suggestions regarding how to harmonise the fire element internally.

Meditation, as an ancient tradition remains one of the well-tested methods of cooling the nervous system and that internal fire that may be burning too much energy in the mind or body. It is particularly useful for creating a calming internal mental space away from the daily pressures or demands, or indeed, the ones we put on ourselves. Using the anchor of the breath as a focus for your sitting meditative practice can be particularly helpful when experiencing an overactive mind state. And, like any other practice, investing time in it will show the results.

As Fire lives in all of us, for what it is, a part of the synergy of all elements forming our collective, yet unique human physical, mental and spiritual make-up, it deserves warm 🙂 attention.

Here’s a synergistic creation of the elements of fire and water with sounds:

May your Fire burn bright.

The Nervous System and our relationship with water

Included, “Inner Sea Sounds Meditation” step-by-step instructions

Do you remember a time in your childhood when placing a large spiral seashell over your ear you could hear a sound reminding of the waves rolling onto the seashore?

It is one of those sounds that, once experienced, may remain in the long-term memory. The most common scientific explanation for this kind of sound seems to be that the ambient noise caught into the shell creates the wave-like sound frequency inside the ear.

For many people, being beside a water body, be it a lake, river, the sea, or the ocean, can be an experience that relaxes the body and mind bringing a sense of peace and calmness. You may be one of many who can access a water body physically and tune into its energy, movement, colour, smells, sounds and sights. Water has the gift of bringing the human mind back “home”. And if you do not have a water body on your doorstep, or cannot travel to the water, there are other ways to access the ocean or the sea by going Inside rather than Outside, which will be described further on in this Blog post by inviting you to experience a meditation practice.

Whether it is the stillness of water or the wild wave that is enchanting you, what have you noticed about how your mood or thoughts change in the presence of water? Some people feel more meditative, artists more imaginative, children more playful, families more connected, sports people more adventurous, or simply laying down by the water with nothing to do and nowhere to go can bring about a sense of wellbeing.

Other gifts of water are its fluidity and ability to nourish. Like no other element, water can get anywhere and move through anything overtime. No wonder human life begins and develops in the safe medium of water. In human history the oceans have been a source of nourishment as well as being essential to the continuity of life; water is also the main component of the human body.

How could it be possible that being in, around or on water can make us feel more calm, connected or creative?

Developing an interest in the mysterious effect that water has on the human mind, I came across the “blue mind concept” introduced by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist who wrote the book entitled “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do”. His theory backed up by neuroscience and real stories told by people from different walks of life suggests that being in contact with water is like medicine, and in many ways restorative to humans’ health, relationships and communities. One of his messages is that enjoying and taking care of the water bodies, for the benefit of our mental health and the planet, we protect that which sustains life carried by the water element.

In the video below, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols describes the “blue mind” concept in an interview.

Blue Mind: Water is medicine:

More information about the blue mind can be found in the Resources at the end of the Blog.

How does this all apply to daily life in practice?

When life shakes us up, to push us to change at the right time and in the right place, with the precision of the moving hands of a clock, there is no escape from the ensuing chaos, anxiety or confusion settling in pretty quickly. The nervous system is then challenged while the entire human system is seeking homeostasis.

Indian Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine have fascinating approaches on the element of water. According to Chinese medicine, in times of stress, if the water element becomes unbalanced in the body, certain organs may be affected: kidneys, urinary bladder, knees, bones and joints. The corresponding psychological symptoms may be: a sense of isolation, fear, detachment, or feeling scattered and disconnected. A healthy flow of the water element in the body manifests through feeling unconditional love, a sense of being in the life flow, sensibility, inclusivity, tenacity, tolerance, endurance and humility. Working at bringing the water element back into balance in relation to the other elements seems to be important in the process of self-regulation.

The same idea of helping a stressed nervous system back into balance but through meditation, reminds me of one of the instructions given at a meditation retreat led by Sogyal Rimpoche, which I attended over 10 years ago in Dzogchen Beara Retreat Centre, Beara Peninsula in south-west Ireland, and it sounded like this:

“Water, if you do not stir it, will become clear”. Clear minds are like clear waters.

Over the past few months, the Inner Sounds Meditation came about spontaneously while I was practicing in an environment that was less conducive to what I thought was needed for inner peace and introspection. Life is such that sometimes we have no choice but to work with what is.  The following is what resulted from the practice. Below, are the step-by-step instructions for the meditation. Enjoy!

The Inner Sea Sounds Meditation

With the help of today’s sophisticated human body technology :), and making use of the following supports listed below, you can be with the sea sounds without holding a sea shell, physically being on the sea shore, or accessing the sounds digitally. There is a lot going on inside the body, and that is inclusive of the sea sounds.

This meditation may be helpful anytime and particularly when experiencing tiredness, stress or anxiety.

Please note:

If you suffer from head/neck/ears injuries or vertigo, or are unsure if this exercise is suitable for you, please seek medical advice before commencing.

What you need:

  • a reasonably quiet room
  • your presence and some of your time
  • a light scarf, hat or fabric head band to wrap around your head and cover your ears
  • ear plugs
  • a mat to sit on or a comfortable chair
  • a pashmina, or light blanket to wrap around your body& neck or use clothing that reaches up to the back of your head

Introduce the ear plugs in your ears, put the scarf on and wrap up the pashmina around you.

Begin by sitting in a comfortable meditation position or on a chair, with your back straight. Directing your attention inside the body. Taking a few deep conscious breaths, relaxing your shoulders, the head and the neck. Allowing the hands to rest on your knees or laps. Allowing the breathing to move through your body from the head to the toes. Closing your eyes if that feels good. Feeling the weight of your body as it is fully supported by the ground or the chair.

Slowly& gently begin rolling your head by moving it down towards the chest and to the left ear, rolling it to the back as far as it is comfortable, and to the right ear, making a smooth, full circle. Continuing to making circles in this anti clockwise direction a few times or as long as it seems appropriate. Paying attention to what you are hearing inside your ears. After some time pausing to rest.

Changing the direction, bringing the head down and towards the right ear, and to the back, and continuing rolling it in a clockwise direction. The circles drawn with your head can be as wide or as small as it feels comfortable. Listening from the inside and taking in the sounds. What are the sounds like? Do they remind you of anything? Whatever the memory, image, sensation, thought or mood, take a moment to notice it arriving, maybe lingering for a while and moving away in its own time. Noticing how it feels in your body to be with this experience.

Beginning to include the awareness of your breathing in the exercise by consciously allowing it to flow naturally through your body during the head rolls. If any tension is present in any part of the body, you may choose to pause and rest, or make an intention to bring the attention to that part of the body with kindness or a soft approach, and make the necessary adjustments.

Allowing your head to return to the middle position and coming to an end of the meditation. Bringing your attention back to the entire body, how it is sitting, sensations and moods that may be present. Making small movements with your fingers and toes, opening the eyes and returning your full attention to the here and now. Congratulating yourself for making the time to re-connect with your “inner sea” sounds.

Links for resources:

Irish Coast Sounds video:

Saying Goodbye to stress video:

Introduction to Blue Mind with Dr. Wallace J Nichols video:

Do you know what the sea is able to do? A poem by Irish poet, Pat Ingoldsby:

The Nervous System and Hatha Yoga


I am grateful to all yoga teachers whose videos are posted here, and who have shared their teachings and passion for what they do, so that others can benefit from the goodness and joy of yoga.

Continuing on with the theme of the nervous system from the June blog, this time is about introducing a bunch of Hatha Yoga asanas that ca be added to your “tool box” as another way to support wellbeing.

My engagement with yoga has many times challenged me to look and feel beyond the physical movements themselves, which is what we can see when watching somebody practicing. Do you wonder sometimes what happens inside the body and mind during any deep physical, mental or spiritual practice? This blog addresses just that question with the focus on how the nervous system can be practically supported through hatha yoga; the answer is to be found in your use of the teachings below.

Hatha Yoga is a traditional system of yoga that teaches physical postures designed to bring balance and connection to the mind, body and spirit so that the energy can flow freer in, out and between. The use of breath, awareness of one’s intention and mental attitude are central to this type of yoga.

The Sanskrit word hatha means willful and can also be translated as two separate words: ha meaning Sun and tha meaning Moon. The image of bringing the energies of sun and moon together in body and mind as one, may serve as an inspiration for your practice.

Hatha Yoga postures are suitable not only for general fitness but also have particular benefits on the functioning of body organs, as you can see explained in the videos below. Regular practice with careful attention to your bodily limits can lead to transformative effects.

From the more experienced hatha yoga practitioners to those just beginning to explore it, this yoga system has something to offer to everyone. The following asanas are known to have several benefits, and particularly supporting the nervous system and brain functions.

Note before the practice:

While some of the videos in the links below include information about cautions and contraindications for the asanas, please remember that the information does not substitute any medical advice or treatment and that you make use of these videos at your own risk.

Because of individual differences in physical and mental states, please consult with your doctor and/or your mental/physical health practitioner in the following situations:

  • If you have any doubts regarding the suitability of the practices for you
  • If you suffer from any illness that may be impacted adversely by the practices
  • If you experience any form of discomfort during the practices

As with all physical exercise, warming up the body prior to yoga is necessary and gives you an indication of how the body feels at a certain time and what your mind is experiencing from moment to moment.

Wearing comfortable clothes and enjoying the practice in a comfortably warm room, ideally away from distractions, is recommended.

The links below present instructions for a gentle warm up yoga sequence. Feel free to try these or follow the warm up that works best for you.

A gentle yet comprehensive yoga warm up:

A shorter version of yoga warm up, with fluid movements:

As the body has entered a flow of movement and you now feel ready to experience more, the following sequence of suggested asanas in the videos below can follow.

The yoga teachings from around the world were carefully selected to suit different levels of physical ability and fitness. Like with all physical exercise, use your own judgement call in what you ask your body to do and in meeting with the expectations that the mind presents to you. With time and practiced regularly, the postures will become part of your long-term memory that can be accessed when needed.

Each asana is an invitation to create an art piece as it moulds your body and mind into shapes and states that are probably different from your ordinary day to day experience. Care needs to be taken that the power of attention is directed towards your physical/mental limits and level of comfort. Taking your time to notice the effects and to allow the body to relax between each asana will enhance the experience.

The yoga sequence ends with a final relaxation in the Shavasana Pose, which will conclude the practice and return you safely to your normal routine, hopefully with a fresh drop of peace in your smile.

Kurmasana (Tortoise pose):

Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold):

For beginners:

For advanced practitioners:

Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana (bridge pose):

Bhadrasa (butterfly or throne pose):

Halasana (Plow pose):

Supta Virasana (reclining hero pose):

Sarvangasa (Shoulder stand):

Balasana (child’s pose):

Shavasana (corpe pose):

If after dipping into the asanas sequence above, you feel like sharing some of your experiences, please post them below in the comments space. Sometimes I see yoga as a two-way street. Without all the people who offered their knowledge of yoga, this blog would not have been possible.

It is my hope that each person has the innate ability to heal oneself and such to support and be supported by others while harnessing the possibilities and potential available in the world we live in and staying in connection with each other in this unique melange of “the old” and “the new” that we find ourselves navigating each day.

Happy Yoga journey!

The Nervous System and Meditation

Have you ever wondered about the role the nervous system has on our overall well-being?

What happens when it is under stress and what can support it? According to science, meditation is one of the ways of re-balancing the network of fibres that form the nervous system.

Some of the science-based benefits of meditation include strengthening areas of the brain responsible for memory, self-awareness, attention and self-regulation. Due to its wide usability in the area of mental health, mindfulness has been one of the most studied and researched meditation types.

As simple as it may sound, this practice is about bringing a quality of non-judgemental awareness to the present moment. When the natural tendency of the mind to jump from thought to thought under the influence of internal and external stimuli is consciously met by the intention to be more present and attentive, meditation happens in that space between nature and nurture. This is often the space where spiralling up to wellness begins.

Consistent practice of meditation has been scientifically proven to benefit the autonomic nervous system by calming down the sympathetic branch responsible for the fight or flight responses, and turning on the parasympathetic branch, which brings the body back to its normal functioning after the perceived threat has passed.  

Whether choosing mindfulness or a different type of meditative or contemplative practice, providing a space for the mind and the body to relax and recharge, invites also a possibility to connect to a wider field of Universal energy.

Easy mindfulness practice to soothe the nervous system

One of the distinguishing features of mindfulness is the non-judgemental witnessing aspect of the practice. Unlike other types of meditation, here the practitioner is encouraged to embody an active receptivity towards the unfolding experience: staying awake and aware as far as possible. Abiding with what arises supports emotional resilience, creates a space for working with any tendency towards reactivity, and increases the ability to centre oneself when feeling ungrounded.

The meditation instructions below offer a simple map to follow. The map is not the territory, and so, taking this journey will uncover your natural steps leading to increased awareness of where you may be at internally, what may be needed to go further, or becoming familiar with your physical, emotional or mental boundaries at a given time.


Creating a quiet space and putting aside some time for the exercise invites a good start. Begin by setting an intention for your practice and noticing what expectations might be there in your mind, whatever they may be today. Allowing yourself to be with this unfolding experience as best you can.

Step 1

Settling into a sitting or another comfortable position of your choice, bringing the attention on the body by feeling the soles of the feet on the ground and sensing the weight of the body being held by the chair or the ground. Being receptive to the presence or absence of sensations in your body.

Take a few moments to shift the focus of your attention to your inner experience. Noticing what might be happening in your thoughts. Watching the thoughts as they come and go like clouds on the sky. Are there any particular feelings there? Any mood or mental state on the surface of your awareness?

If you find yourself getting drawn into any thoughts, feelings or internal chatter, remember to gently escort your attention back to just witnessing your experience.

Step 2

Redirecting your full attention to the breath by finding a spot in the body where the breath is felt most clearly. Following the breath flow all the way in and all the way out.

Taking a few conscious breaths, bringing the attention to the belly and how the breath is flowing naturally. What do you notice about it? Whatever its pace, quality, strength, or the sensations felt where it passes, make a point to be present with its ever-changing flow.

Knowing when you are breathing in……. and when breathing out…….. 

Step 3

Expand the field of your present attention to incorporate a sense of your body as a whole, and sensations in certain areas. Including an awareness of your facial expression and posture and other things that may come to your attention, such as smells or sounds.


Returning your attention to just being here now, noticing your breath, the body and your general state of mind. In your own time, opening the eyes and noting where you are, and, with your full attention returning to being here.

Other meditation options:

For a quick pick-me-up, here’s a guided mindful breathing practice from Mindfulness in Real Life:

If feeling more adventurous to experience a taste of another kind of meditation, please click the link below to watch the video of a brief introduction to meditation techniques from Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E.: