Warmth pervades you, or it can spontaneously arise within you when you
become enthusiastic about something. You can use these features,
pervasiveness and impulse creation, in making observations:
by identifying with the object (a
physical object or a situation), penetrating into it and at the same
time allowing the object to enter your mental image;
creation by perceiving how the object has
affected your soul and how it has induced you to act.
attitude corresponding to the warmth element is based upon the
characteristics or gesture of an object, and you search your mind to
find its core and the impression it has made on you.
A comparison with a plant may clarify this idea. A fully grown plant
with roots, leaves and flowers is something tangible. You
don’t have to imagine it, as it’s there in front of
you. But after the plant has died and has left only its seeds behind,
you have to imagine the plant. The plant is present in the seed as a
potential. It’s as yet unclear exactly how it will turn out.
It may become tall or short, stout or paltry, etc. The seed contains
the plant as a whole potential range of appearances, while in an actual
plant, one of these has manifested itself. In terms of observation,
warmth as a mode of observation corresponds to the seed. It allows you
to discover the core, the essence or the impulse, in which all
manifestations of the object are potentially present.
You should allow all observations to enter your mental image: the
concrete observations, the movements, the dynamic experience and the
characteristics. You then make them disappear again, and wait to see if
an image of the core or essence develops. This is an image of the
impression created in you by your encounter with the object. Such an
image is usually a symbolic image, and it is accompanied by an
expression (its significance to you) or a certain mood. The symbolic
image, with its expression, mood and orientation (that is, the
direction in which it would seem to develop) contains all potential
Since this observation of the symbolic image and its expression is
personal, you may start to doubt whether it is accurate. You can test
this by comparing images in a group of people. You will often find that
different people come up with very different images for the same
object, but that these images do express the same idea. If this is not
the case, it often turns out that there were hidden differences in the
questions you asked or the perspectives from which you observed.
Going from earth, via water and air, to warmth implies a movement from
the exterior of an object to your own inner self. The observation has
developed from a concrete observation, through movement, dynamic
experience and gesture or characteristics to a symbolic image. This is
a movement from exterior to interior and from a concrete manifestation
to a symbolic image. It is a process of densification, of searching for
the layer that is hidden behind that of the previous observations. It
gets you ever closer to the core.
Strangely enough, this has also made the observation more objective. If
different people make earth-type observations, they all observe on the
basis of their own questions and concepts. Their observations are
personal and therefore subjective, even though the concepts used may be
objective. When observing a symbolic image, the observation is
objective, even though the concepts used are personal and subjective.
If you’re observing a farm or a landscape, you can also try
to identify the intentions of the people who work there, that is, the
impulses of the people who created it. You don’t do this by
asking them (as they would only tell you what they wanted to do), but
you try to derive the intentions from what they actually did.
Intentions reveal themselves in actions and can thus be observed. The
aim is to discover the underlying intentions by studying the actions.
The warmth element corresponds to a meditative attitude. Here are some
suggestions to achieve this.
- Meditation requires you to become calm and shut
yourself off from your
environment, from the noises around you and from your own spinning
thoughts. Sit on a chair, put your feet on the ground. Sit up straight
yet relaxed, and breathe quietly in and out. Continue like this until
you’ve calmed down. Meanwhile, pay attention to the noises
around you and gradually shut yourself off from them by no longer
taking notice of them. Say ‘Hello, noise’.
Similarly, silence your thoughts by telling them to give way to
something else. If they continue to trouble you, you can assign them to
a particular place or tell them to come back in an hour or so. Now
imagine you’re in contact with the earth through your
tailbone and with the sky through the crown of your head. Allow this to
flow through you for a while.
- Now imagine that you’re in a dome of light,
with bright white
light on the inside, while the outside is sealed off by a bluish violet
light. Once you’re calmly seated inside the dome, you call up
mental pictures, images and perceptions of the object. You will see
these as images before you. Call up earth-type, water-type and air-type
observations in sequence. Do this for about 10 to 15 minutes. Once
you’re satisfied with the images, erase them. Tools that can
help you do this if they refuse to go include a match with which you
burn them or an eraser.
- Your mind is now empty, and you must wait and see
whether a symbolic
image arises, without explicitly wanting it to. You want it and at the
same time you don’t want it. You must wait and have faith. By
wanting it too strongly, you will block its appearance. The image that
arises is often a symbolic, imaginary image. It is often a well-known,
common image, derived from fairy tales, the bible, etc.
- You can regard the image that arises as an impression
that the object
has evoked in you. It is an imprint of your encounter with the core,
the essence of the object. It is not only the content of the image
which is important, but also the intention, mood and orientation which
it offers. The image expresses something. This is the impulse contained
in it. It is important that you try to observe all this and record it
(quickly) by jotting down notes, drawings, etc. If you don’t,
you may lose the precise expression. You can also ask the image
questions. You can observe where it touches you and which movements it
induces in you. These may relate to parts of your body but also to your
thoughts, feelings or desires.
- You can go through all of these steps in one session,
but you can also
build up the observational images in the evening, and then wait until
the morning, as you wake up, to see what image has arisen.
- If you now look at the object again, it may look
it will often be brighter, more vivid, and you may notice new aspects.
- There are various ways in which this exercise can go
wrong. The first
problem is that you may find it impossible to shut yourself off from
your environment and from your own thoughts. The next problem may arise
in trying to concentrate on the object, as your thoughts may stray from
it. One technique to help you with this is the first of
Steiner’s basic exercises (concentrating the mind). The next
potential problem is in erasing the observational images, which may
refuse to go or keep coming back. The final problem you may encounter
is that no symbolic image ultimately appears, for instance because you
want it too strongly. All of these problems can only be overcome by
Dog and cat
The image that arises for a dog is a circle, while that for a cat is a
dot. The circle is appropriate for a dog because it is
environment-oriented and open. The dot is appropriate for a cat because
this animal tends to lie beside the stove, which is located at the
centre. These features are also found in their posture and bodily
traits, with cats having more rounded shapes and dogs having more
elongated, radial shapes.
Rye, wheat and
A number of people have studied the developmental processes in three
types of cereal. This led to the following images:
|- a knight in armour
- a dark blue to black sky with a bright, radiant, white building with
active people inside
- beautiful blue water, with a blue sky above it, and fishes swimming
|- an affluent middle-class woman
- pale yellow colours, whithout shape
- a row of soldiers, marching stiffly
|- a well-dressed noblewoman
- a sunrise with the sun as a fiery orange ball
- a young man
Although these images
are very different, there is a common quality.
Compared to wheat and spelt, rye is associated with an active world,
surrounded by blue. Wheat is associated with a completed development,
which has reached its end and is no longer very active. The images
associated with spelt have to do with youth and a development from the
inside. (De Vries, 1985)
Two people participating in an exercise about an ash in a windbreak
each saw an image while meditating. When they saw the tree again after
their meditation, they both had the same reaction: the tree seemed more
viable and brighter than before, and they noticed a branch they had
missed before. None of the other participants showed this reaction.
Inner peace and
concentration (see also: van de Weg, 2002 and Oehms, 2000)
• Stretch your entire body, starting from your toes; yawn if
you feel the urge to do so. Let your upper body droop down, loosen your
arms and head and then slowly raise yourself up again. Loosen your
muscles by shaking them. Start with your feet, which you shake loose
from the ankles, then your lower and upper legs, pelvis, hands,
forearms and upper arms, shoulders, head and lower jaw. Tighten all
your head muscles and then relax them again. Stretch yourself once more
and let your upper body droop down again. Describe what you observe:
how did you feel before and after the exercise?
• Sit down, in a relaxed attitude but straight. Focus your
attention on the various parts of your body in turn, starting with your
feet, ankles and so on up until you’ve reached the top of
your head. Feel the location and weight of each of the parts of your
body. Describe what you observe and how you felt before and after the
• All kinds of thoughts are actively running through your
head. Call them up and look at them, then decide what to do with them.
Throw away the unimportant ones (imagine something like a wastepaper
basket) or make them fade into the background. Set the important ones
aside, for instance by putting them on your desk. Continue this until
your mind is empty. Now focus your attention on a spot at the centre of
your head. This spot is empty and brightly lit. Make it larger. This is
the space where mental images can arise. Were you able to empty your
mind in this way? Did you create a bright empty space?
• Breathe quietly in and out, taking three to five seconds to
inhale and exhale, holding your breath for three to five seconds after
inhaling and also waiting three to five seconds after exhaling before
inhaling again. After you’ve done this for some minutes and
have calmed down, focus your attention on an empty spot in your chest.
Did you manage to find an empty spot in your chest?
• Create a protective space by imagining yourself in a dome of
light, with bright white light on the inside and bluish violet light on
the outside. This dome will protect you against outside influences. Did
you manage to create this space? Can you describe it?
• Create a meditation room. After you have completed the above
exercises, and have decided to start meditating, your imagination may
create a building that you can enter to meditate. After you have
created this room, you can call it up when you wish to meditate. It
doesn’t matter what it looks like, as long as
you’re able to concentrate in it and feel comfortable there.
Did you manage to create such a meditation room? What does it look
Build up a rich, complete mental image of the object or situation that
you want to use for warmth-type observations. First think of the
concrete observations, then concentrate on the movement and dynamic
experience, and then on the characteristics. Concentrate on these
observations for 10 to 15 minutes, or however long you feel you need.
Now remove the mental image and wait to see whether a symbolic image
arises. Describe or draw this symbolic image, paying attention to the
intention and orientation of the image, what the image expresses and
the mood associated with it. You should also pay attention to the
impression the image makes on you and the part of you that is touched
by it. You can also ask the image questions, like how it would prefer