Mountains are steadfast but the mountain streams
go by, go by,
and yesterdays are like the rushing streams,
they fly, they fly,
and the great heroes, famous for a day,
they die, they die.
Translated by Peter H. Lee
With the recent autumn rains, the streams are rushing once again. They bring a reminder of the broader landscape of where of I live. Wetlands, which spread along the shores of the San Francisco Bay, gently begin to slope upward westerly toward the hillsides, eventually rising into a single peaceful presence – Mount Tamalpais.
The downpours of this past week enlivened a lacey network of rivulets, creeks, and brooks, revealing an intimate connectedness. It feels as though Nature has found a way to maneuver around the streets and roads and reclaimed her own pathways through the ravines and indentations in the surface. There is some pooling of excess waters, but most find their way into one of the natural waterways. That allows the droplets to cluster and travel freely, forming their own “rush hour.”
For now, there is only a faint memory of dust clinging to the leaves. It feels that the waters have filtered into my own skin, washing away any apprehension of a fire spontaneously hurtling across this terrain. This is the season of rain, of letting go, and absorbing the nourishment that comes this way. It is a time of remembering that yesterdays were once tomorrows. Seconds gather into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, days into years, and years into lifetimes. This is the season to behold the inherent belongingness of all life, and to be fully accept that change is ever-present.
It seems to do that is to embrace the quiet, steadfast qualities of the mountain. Like a grand sage, the mountain seems to carry timeless messages of generosity and humility. Its magnificent peak endlessly touches the heavens, and its base is gently rooted into the surrounding lands. It nourishes all near and far, being home to many plants, birds, and wildlife while providing a source of comfort. It seems that poets such as Hwang Chin-i of the 16thcentury invite us to come near the mountain. I will try to do that more often, and hope you will join me.
This short practice explores steadfastness.
- Turn your phone and any other devices to airplane mode.
- Gently rotate each ankle around in one direction and then the other.
- With both feet on the floor, or earth, curl your toes toward your arches a few times.
- Then, one again rotate your ankles in each direction.
- Note: if standing is not accessible for you, please feel free to be seated for this practice.
- Standing throughout the practice. (remember if standing is not accessible, please adapt the practice for your comfort.)
- Find a comfortable distance between your feet.
- As much as possible, align your ankles, hips, and shoulders, allowing your weight to balance evenly over your feet. Permit a micro-bend in your knees.
- Invite an awareness of the surface beneath you – the floor, the surface(s) beneath the floor such as the building foundation, and then the earth.
- In whatever way that is comfortable for you, offer gratitude for the steadfastness of the earth.
- Allow your mind to be absorbed in the feeling of steady peacefulness.
- With each inhalation, invite this feeling to expand into your bones and slowly into every cell of your being from head to toe.
- With each exhalation, invite this feeling to settle in as though taking root within you.
- Stay for six breaths with this awareness.
- Slowly stretch your arms overhead with your fingertips reaching toward the sky, and your palms facing one another. Breathe for a couple breaths.
- Allow your hands to rest over your heart center, one hand on top of the other.
- Quietly repeat to yourself, “Inner peacefulness is steadfast. I am like the mountain – bold, humble, and content.”
Transition back into your day –
- Come to a seated position. Sit quietly for a few moments.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 60, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2021.
To support your inner steadiness, please consider gifting yourself with a copy of my book “Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry,” available through Bookshop, or order through your local independent bookstore.