Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, October 7, 2012
Lie outside in a field of tall autumnal grass anywhere you can find one – or in the grasses of your mind’s eye. Dip yourself down into the pale yellow almost white stalk color that pits itself so perfectly against the blue-gray of a blustery October sky.
You are flat, deeply hidden by grasses — hidden to everything but the sky’s clouds and the birds of prey. In that fleece hoodie you know will pick up lots of bits of earth. Oh, so what. The sun peeks out – so hot on your sternum for a few solid moments — and you whip your top off. Skin on grass.
Breathe. Which your Boggle-playing brain suddenly realizes can be rearranged into be heart. Yes, be Heart. Be Body, be Breath. Just don’t be Mind for a second…. But don’t really mind if you’re Mind because that would be resisting and you shouldn’t resist so much. Can you really help it, though? Accepting resistance probably is that first step, just like it says in the book you keep reading, the one bookmarked with a pair of glasses. Because now you wear glasses.
Thought bubbles, be gone! Clear the throat of your mind! Try to forget about metaphors in the micro-spaces between thoughts. Have faith that in these micro-spaces reside both lightning and peace. Huh? Sighing deeply, you wonder if sighing can be classified as some kind of rudimentary meditative breath. That even dogs know how to do.
Now: be limp, heavy, and soft against this planet called Earth that has a magnetic core of 10,000-degree iron and nickel. Our globe, hung third, green, and watery in a clockwork solar system filled with ellipses and forces mysterious to you. How many millions of ellipses are there winging things around out there where energy and matter converge into mathematics and music and order? Are there right angles in the heavens? In dreamy wonderment, breathe your sternum up to the sky, then exhale to the magnetic center of the earth. Evaporate up, melt down.
The pokiness of the grasses prickles your naked back. Is it really uncomfortable — or just different? Think of acupuncture needles of grass. Breathe in and feel chi moving in your back, and then breathe further into it like your favorite body-worker tells you to. All those back ribs you forget everyday. When was the last time you thought of these ribs opening up like… well, like wings? We are so front-centered as walkers and talkers and takers. Breathe in through the eyes of your latissimus dorsi and meet the moment this way. Backwards. You know?
On the next outbreath, let everything you’ve hauled up to the field — dross packed into the deep grooves of grey matter – go. Including stress about not having taken enough bike rides this summer or made that apricot-lavender jam that tastes like the south of France. That your cat is lonely and even more neurotic with your daughter gone. Or the fact that you still can’t communicate so brilliantly well in a relationship. Open your eyes to a slit, and let the sun filter in through your eyelashes — where all those mites live. Be compassionate towards yourself, which includes the mites.
In a little TongLen meditation, breathe in suffering Mind from all over, including the mind of humans but also of mites and screech owls and those cold-weather Japanese monkeys that hang out in hot springs. Your outbreath, a sweet beacon of Mind healing itself all around, is steam rising from hot springs. For an extended microsecond, words actually fall away, maybe from just thinking about that pool of hot water.
Suddenly, through your eye-slits, you note sparkles to the left and you turn your head slowly, very slowly, with all the time in the world. From a nearby aspen stand, a slurry of glistering yellow leaves has lifted, as if pulled upward by some sacred geometry of threads. They move like a flock of birds. Like a school of fickle goldfish. Finally peaking and reaching their utmost height, breath holds itself — and then the leaves fall, weightless coins of deep yellow, of ripe lemon, of straw, ochre, butter, and black-eyed Susan showering down to Earth. They are actual pieces of the sun, captured. Drifting toward you.
The wind, accompanied by its gentle and rustling soundtrack, licks your body and then kindly drops a few leaves onto your chest. One lands on your forehead. For a moment, touched by a yellow so deep it heals, you are one with autumn fire and wind. And, with 360 degrees of ribs opening, you breathe in what’s left of warmth and lock it in the soft cage of your heart.