losing its name
a river
enters the sea

John Sandbach

Rivers talk.  Even though humans have built grand and quaint bridges and have constructed dams, the rivers continue to tell the story of life.   They fluently converse with the mountains and marshlands, and many feathered, scaley, and furry lifeforms.  The sagas they have lived and continue to tell are archived in the walls of cavernous gorges, subterranean waterways and fossilized riverbeds.

We may not understand the voice of the rivers, but they endlessly express themselves.   We ourselves are walking rivers.  Our blood moves through the pathways of veins and arteries, and our energy is carried along the currents of our nervous system.  Endless generations of humanity are connected through the presence of menstrual flow and the streaming of our tears – whether in joy or grief.  Our thoughts are secret rivers of conversations between our memory and engagement with the world.  And, our movements have the capacity to fluidly and gracefully glide and lope.

Enduring cultures, arising out of ancient sensibilities, recognize the boundless expression of rivers.   At night, there is a magnificent river of stars known as the Milky Way.   Shooting stars cascade like waterfalls through the darkness, and during the day colorful rivers of color arc across the sky after a rainfall.

The language of the river is all around us.  I feel rivers beckon humans to reconsider – if not abandon – our human inventions of linearity, classification, control and measurement.  They seem to invite us to remember the intricacies of our infinite riverlike connections, and more importantly, our organic and undulating river-nature.  Perhaps if we listen deeply to the rivers, we may regain courage to accept that, like the rivers, all life – including ours – eventually yields name and form into the embrace of oceanic, sacred wholeness and completeness.

Practice
This practice supports awareness of your bodily fluidity.

Prepare— 

  • Find a place where you can freely move unobserved by others.  (This practice invites you to make random movements.)
  • Remove all your electronic devices except the one you are using for this practice.
  • Look around the space where you are and notice the surfaces that are flat or linear, and those are round.   If possible, notice if there is any change in the nature of your observation when you look at a something rectangular and then something textured or round.  For example, you may feel a subtle shift in your feelings or in the tension of your gaze.

Practice— 

  • Standing or seated, allow your fingers and wrists to playfully and spontaneously move.
  • Then, do the same with your mouth and jaw.
  • With your lips relaxed, blow through them, letting them vibrate and make different sounds, e.g., the sound of a horse, motorcycle, etc.
  • Standing, fluidly move with your entire body.
    • Perhaps begin by imagining you are a piece of kelp swirling and effortlessly being moved by the ocean currents.  Perhaps tune into the fact that your body is primarily made of water, and then move like water being rippled by a breeze or the wake of a boat.
    • Invite a sense of letting go and just feeling your innate fluidity.
    • Continue for several minutes.
  • Seated, return to observing your hands as they fluidly move.  Then, give yourself a hug by wrapping your left hand over your right shoulder, and right and over your left shoulder.  Squeeze your shoulders and feel the roundness and pliability of your body.

Transition Back into Your Day

  • Come to a seated position.  If in a chair, place the soles of your feet onto the ground.
  • Sit quietly for a few minutes, with your hands relaxed in a comfortable position.
  • When you are ready, transition back into your day.

This poem appears in Mala of Love:: 108 Luminous Poems, page 107, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on katevogt.com. KateVogt©2023.

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