”If you grew up in western culture, you were taught to trust a reasoning mind, facts, and scientific evidence – not to listen to your body. You probably had no lessons in school to teach you to slow down and trust your bodily sensations. Instead, you were most likely taught to shut down, hold in your emotions, and not express what you feel.
Because you live in a culture that often does not value the sensitivity and wisdom of the body and emotions, becoming mindful is a radical act – one that requires you to stand up for your inner life. The more you slow down and listen to your body, the more it’s messages will become direct and clear.
Mindfulness cultivates the sensitive art of deep listening. You can remove the filters of fear, vigilance, and anticipation, and come into a direct relationship with “what is” right now. But it takes some discernment to see clearly and not judge your experiences.”
First, I dreamed that I wandered from room to room in a glass house at the edge of the sea, working with my fears and my desires the way a sculptor works with clay, the way a fly-fisherman works his line.
Then I dreamed of women, of all the sisters I have known. They made a great circle around me and chanted Om three times. My heart became a bird of many colors. My rib cage opened and the bird flew up into the sky. My tear-ducts ran themselves dry and the muscles of my eyes ached. I knew I was alive.
Finally, I dreamed of bloodlines and of men, the many brothers I have known. I dreamed that my father, my grandfather and my son all sat with me at a round table of thick dark wood. At the center of the table was an elk heart with stones and feathers and seashells on it. We each ate some of the heart. I saw them all from a place of peace, a place where all my emotions and thoughts had become transparent. A place where love runs freely without refrain, a river whose dam has been lifted, flowing with its natural movement restored to it.
Love, you are the answer. Love, you are the way. Love, you are the force that opens me.
I woke early to a lone bird whose song split across the darkness, as if repeating something I had yet to discover. I had the feeling he knew it was spring. Whatever he knew, or didn’t know, he was joined shortly thereafter by his own sisters and brothers to usher in the sun.
On this, the first day of my life, the elders tell me they never acquired anything they didn’t later wish to be free of. They ask about my mother, father, umbilical cord.
Soon, I tell them, soon: the wind on this mountain will sweep my mother’s ashes from my hand and combine them with the Pacific. Soon I will learn that my father has gone off to Spokane, that the cord was wrapped around my neck and had to be untangled.
We travel up the Kilchis River, pick huckleberries, eat sourgrass and purple clover, catch steelhead. These elders, these children of the mountains tell me I’m one of them, kindling my warm hunger, my quiet thirst. Dirt and clay emulsify with the tissue in my fingers.
The voice of this place is audible to me now, I understand the meaning of my name.
I hear the presence of this Coast Range, and rest in the tremor of waves grinding their verses against the ankles of Neahkahnie, the story of the earth told to me in a wordless dialect.
Deep listening is effortless on the first day of your life, when you’ve yet to unlearn it.
Place your hands against stones, tree-trunks. They are generous with their energy, their knowing.
Tribal memories awake now, you who have long been dormant. A drum beats.
Consider the dancer in us all, more human than animal, more animal than human.
Walking alone in nature can be sacred, healing and rejuvenating. The motor of your mind gradually stops its whirring and quiets down, like a swarm of locusts moving further into the distance. Constrictions loosen. Stale transforms to Vivifying. You have made some space around yourself, and you are participating in creation. The sights and sounds of the organic world support you as a hammock might, allowing you to sway, to rock in the cradle of your underneath layers.
When walking alone, you don’t owe anybody anything. No one owes you. In doing so much less than you would otherwise be doing, you are doing so much more. You are away from how you are thought of by others, even those who perhaps know you best. And your own judgments begin to lift too, as the song of what you know begins to fall away.
You are a pearl rolling in a silver bowl.
So many people these days are on an inward journey toward personal peace, a search for meaning in their lives, extending an invitation to Awakening as often as they can. It’s a sort of collective individualism occurring alongside the unshakeable knowing that we are all ultimately One.
How cathartic to remove a bandage and find an old wound has healed. Settle into yourself. Settle into the world until you reach the exit.