“The Sufi is the possessor of breaths.” – Pir Zia Inayat-Khan

For the past two months, I have been living and working at the Self & Soul Center in Talent, Oregon, moving through the eco-somatics internship program run by Suzanna Yahya Nadler. In our classes and movement workshops, we have explored the consciousness of the elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether (Akasha). In our work on the grounds, we have moved in the practice of biodynamics, understanding the subtle alchemy that occurs as we unearth compost and prepare seeds for their transformation, for new growth.

In this internship program, life and art, work and play have been seamlessly interwoven. As I have explored the elements, I have encountered earth in my body, in my walkabouts in the forest, and on the land. I have sat before the fire, enraptured by the spell of flames. I have plunged myself in and out of water, cleaning myself by the side of running creek and watching the sweat trickle down my temples as I have persevered through the long bicycle ride uphill. I have, lastly, felt the power of my breath, felt the openness and clarity as I sculpt the vessel of my internal winds. It is only in maintaining this structure, nourishing the health of this body, that I am able to receive the gift of this energy, of this breath. Breathing in, I take part in all that is this world. Breathing out, I give it a little bit of myself.

As a culminating project for this internship, I crafted a sculptural expression of this work. My body is the body of the Earth, ripe with potential, full of the great song and the sweetness of life. It is molded of clay, of hardened Earth made pliable by Water. It is birthed in Fire, in the spark of longing that brings together mother and father. And lastly, it is filled with the breath of life.

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With these elements in unity, we arrive at Ether, at Akasha, at the boundless and the indescribable. As I place my lips upon the clay, as I remember the rites of fire and water, earth and air, the flute comes alive with music, to the boundless realm of eternal Sound.

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