The subtitle of this talk could be “The Four Elements Meditation”. Several years ago, Peter found the title quote in a book by Jack Kornfield. In the book, he talked of visiting Las Vegas in his monastic robes and seeing “You Must Be Present To Win” signage above the door into a casino, presumably announcing rules regarding a lottery. Peter appreciates the irony, so painted a sign with those words that’s posted above the room where our Sangha meets to meditate. During the talk, he described the nature of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water as subjective awarenesses, that is, earth is density or pressure, air is movement, fire is temperature, and water is cohesiveness. These focus points for meditation practice are for developing mindfulness of the body, and are mentioned in the Satipatthana Sutta. Mindfulness of the body is useful as being several ways to interrupt the internal chatter in order to cultivate concentration and tranquility. After this, Peter led a brief guided meditation to familiarize participants regarding the practice. This was followed by discussion about the experience and utility of the practice.
During this meditation training exercise, Peter encouraged concentrating attention on different areas of sensation varying from the upper lip, rim of the nostrils, the nasal septum and passages, the sinus cavities, back of the throat, soft palate/uvula, hard palate, upper gum and teeth, upper tongue and inside of the upper lip. Each of these areas are stimulated by the breathing in and out cycle. The four elements were described: Earth (hardness/pressure), air (movement), fire (varying temperatures) and water (cohesion/fluidity) as reference points in the process of mindfulness of breathing.