In June of 2019, my family and I went traveling to Yosemite National Park in California.  The National Park Service describes Yosemite succinctly:

“Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.  First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.”

My three kids were 2, 4, and 6 years old at the time.  Anyone who has traveled with little kids knows the true meaning of the saying, “sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation.”  One afternoon, we had decided to do a short hike to the base of the famous Yosemite Falls.  The walk turned out to be rather tiring, the kids were hot and exhausted, as were father and mother, and our moods (mine especially) reflected our physical discomfort.  

Slowly we made our way up along the river, fed by the falls, stopping to throw rocks, gather sticks, and enjoy the time in the woods.  Soon we could hear the roar of the waterfall smashing into the rocks below. Finally, after about an hour, we reached the footbridge at the base of the falls:

Lower yosemite fall trail in yosemite national park

Immediately when stepping onto the bridge, one can feel the spray from the crashing waterfall blowing past you at 30mph (48kph).  The force of the water falling onto the rocks creates a massive and constant rush of pure water that soaks you if you spend more than a couple of minutes on that bridge.  When I stepped off of that bridge for a bit of reprieve from the water, I was amazed, quite shocked actually, for I was completely energized and refreshed. Of course, I would expect to feel a bit refreshed; to be doused with cool water on a hot day would rejuvenate anyone.  But this was something else entirely.  My energy levels skyrocketed as though I had just had a whole night’s sleep, and I felt completely rested and ready to tackle the day.  That memory has stuck with me since that trip and had me questioning how something like that was possible, and more importantly, was there a way to recreate that effect without traveling to a majestic waterfall?  If we genuinely are the microcosm and contain within ourselves a whole universe, then shouldn’t I be able to recreate this effect through meditation or some other means?  

What I came to realize is that on that bridge, the elements in my body got a good cleansing from the pure mountain water which tumbled down from the mountain above and that maybe we can become more receptive to the healing power of nature by getting to know ourselves a bit better.

In His book, “The Wellness Sense,” Om Swami discusses a tantric practice called bhoota shuddhi, designed to purify your elemental body leading to better physical and mental health.  He goes on to say that “the five elements don’t just correspond to the five sensory objects.  They are not just about the physical composition of your body; they are more than that.  For example, purification of each element positively affects its corresponding consciousness, organ, and perception.” (Wellness Sense, by Om Swami) 

Laziness, fatigue, thirst, hunger, and sleep are characteristics of the fire element. Therefore, purification of the fire element has a direct and immediate bearing on one’s hunger and laziness.

The waterfall engaged all of my senses, and the elements had themselves a good shower, as did my physical body 😊.  

In corroboration of what Swamiji has told us, in The book “Aghora II: Kundalini” by Robert E. Svoboda, it is stated that: “The essence of Tantra is the purification of the Five Elements, to awaken the Kundalini Shakti, which is your shakti (power, energy). Therefore, any spiritual practice, in any religion, is some process or another of awakening Kundalini, and Kundalini can only be awakened once the Elements in your body have become purified.”

In the Kundalini camp by Om Swami, He said the human body is naturally made up of the five elements, and we have to harmonize and align these elements to get past them. I believe the water cascading down over the earth and crashing down on the granite, with the sun shining brightly above, had a healing and cleansing effect on these elements, which dramatically affected my mood and state of consciousness. So what I am searching for now is that fountain of youth, that cleansing and rejuvenating waterfall that we call contain within ourselves.  

In closing, I’d like to share the following excerpts are taken from a book called “Silence Speaks” written by Baba Hari Dass.  I’ve re-read this book many times over the past 30 years and love the quality of the answers.  The book is written in question and answer format, as are these excerpts:

Q. Is awakening of Kundalini necessary for enlightenment?

A. Yes. A being is bound by six vikaras (impediments) – existence, birth, change, decay, and destruction.  When specific symptoms appear in the physical body, such as sensations of light and sound, we say Kundalini is awakening.  With this awakening, the chain of vikaras is broken.

Q. I don’t understand how the universe can all fit inside of a person.

A. A magnifying glass is so little, but it can make things so big.

Q. Is the universe itself a being?

A. Yes.  Just as inside you, there are many life forms, and yet you are one being.

Q. Are the chakras like solar systems?

A. The chakras are called lokas (universes).  There are seven sheaths to the universe.  Everything we see- stars, planets, earth – is within the first sheath.  Past the seventh sheath is Loka lok, or shunya (void), or God.

Self-purification is an arduous path, just like hiking with kids through the woods 😊 Regarding the spiritual path, Baba Hari Dass said:

“If you have to hike to a mountain top, then you walk through the hills and dales, woods and rivers, snowy cliffs and ravines.  The spiritual path is not a highway.”

Has anyone else had an experience like this in nature?  Have you found your fountain of youth?

Now, if I can figure out which element governs my desire to eat donuts…🍩