The Elements with Pippa Cope 28 Dec 2018 – 2 Jan 2019

“Appreciate the beginners’ mind, the secret of good practice.” With these words, Dónal Creedon closed his week-long session with approximately 20 retreatants at the Tara Rokpa Center in Groot Marico.

Grounding Earth

During the retreat, Pippa Cope, long-term resident at the Tara Rokpa Center, led us through a journey of discovering the basics of all those elements that surround us and exist in each of us. This spirited woman guided us to reconnect with all that surround and exist within us: earth, water, fire, air, and the space elements. With hands-on work and guided meditation practice we learned how elements affect us, and that through balanced elements, we can perfect our practice.

Starting in the Octagon, a mud-floored and serene structure, we were steered through meditation on each of the elements, and then headed outside to explore each elemental energy that we take for granted.

Creativity unleashed by the water element

First off, we discovered the joys of the stable earth element by painting with mud – and almost immediately, water element materialized and made its mark on the creative paintings. Neat lines softened and harsh colours mingled under the gentle patter of rain, refashioning the art into softer depictions of the earth world. Still and running water revealed their unique characteristics through long focused attention, peacefully sitting by the stream and pond together with the resident dogs.

Warmth and light

Although water threatened our fire-making experiences, Pippa was undaunted, and with a gentle blowing, managed to make a little fire that imparted warmth and light to the participants.

“What on earth is the difference between air and space” I wondered as I looked forward to the next session. The delight of watching trees and shrubs dance under the temperate winds, birds in the sky brought back memories of the air element. Often forgotten because of its invisibility, we forget the value of the creativity, quick wit, and sharp intelligence that air can contribute to our daily lives. Then onto the elusive space element. I recalled going back to childhood, a time when one has the time to stare into the endless sky scattered with clouds or sparkling stars. Space became clear to me at last: it is infinite, without a beginning or end, and cradles all things.

The Tibetan Buddhists believe that all forms of dis-ease are due to an imbalance in one or more of the elemental energies. Through regular meditation, and alignment of the elements we can balance and heal our physical and emotional bodies. Pippa, however, took a step further. She showed us that those elements co-exist in the outer world as well. We are all part of the larger world, and through respect for the outer elements, our inner elements can be synchronized to grow into wholesome people.

In this simple way, Pippa drew our attention back to the beginning – the very elements of life.

Helen Savva, Jan 2019