In our human-centric world, it is refreshing to be away from the phone, computer, and car – and to slow down and get back in touch with some primal wisdom. Although it wasn’t our main intention, my husband Jay and I benefited immensely from leaving these modern conveniences behind while we travelled in Spain for a couple weeks. Because of a stretch when we would be hiking in the mountains of Cantabria, we had only taken basic needs.
Along the way, we began noticing the constant presence of rocks and stones: cobbled walkways; ancient caves; cathedral spires; medieval walls; convent floors; sculpture; river beds; and, of course, the mountainous peaks. This isn’t surprising given that many of the major nature sites of the world are associated with rocks: e.g., Mt. Everest, the Grand Canyon, Table Mountain, and the rock bed of Victoria Falls. Similarly with human-made sites, such as the Mayan Ruins, the Great Pyramid of Giza, Stonehenge, Hagia Sophia, the Western Wall, Easter Island, Machu Picchu, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Taj Mahal, Vatican City, as well as our contemporary churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. Human mysteries and treasures are sealed in rocks, such as prehistoric paintings and petroglyphs.
For us, our most notable wonder was a massive rock outside of one of our hotel windows. If it were a skyscraper, it would have been at least 30 stories high. It had trees and wildflowers poking out of its cracks and crevices, and different species of birds flitting in and out of its orifices. It oozed a tranquil peacefulness and seemed to inspire a calm joviality in everyone around the hotel.
Although the terms are used interchangeably, the word rock usually refers to a large, solid, grounded mass whereas a stone generally is movable. In some cultures, rocks are acknowledged as carriers of the most primal memory of existence. Rather than memory being exclusively a capacity of the human brain, in those cultures memory refers to the universal and unspoken remembrance of fundamental, and unshakeable, truths.
For humans to experience the wise memory held within rocks, we can venture into a cave. Travel into a cavernous space within a rock takes us to the inward world. The winding tunnels are an inner world reflecting the unseen – and unrecognized – stillness underpinning the outer world. We are challenged to meet our fears and accept the unknown within the womb of the rock. Our ordinary habits of navigating the world are useless in its darkness, inspiring us to surrender to the guidance of silence and inner knowing.
Rocks and stones are considered healing and comforting, and in the form of gems, are prized for their beauty and rarity. They are used as trail markers in open territory and added to burial sites to ground the non-embodied spirits. Our earliest tools were shaped of stone, and modern-day tools rely on the extraction of ores. Overall, rocks and stones have far more ancient beginnings than our human species. It might be wise for us to shift our perspective about, and regain respect for, the steadfastness, divine meaning, and generous abundance of rocks.
This practice supports awareness of steadfastness.
- Stand barefoot without an extra mat or rug between you and the floor, walkway, or earth.
- Allow yourself to become limp like a rag doll. Relax through your shoulders and arms.
- Bring your awareness to the soles of your feet. Notice the base of your big and little toes and the center of your heels. Feel as though you had roots at those points connecting you, and receiving nourishment from the earth.
- While staying rooted, energetically draw upward through the inner arch or each foot, sides of your ankles, your legs, pelvic floor, and the vertebrae in your spine.
- Standing here, allow ease in your breath. Take a few smooth, easy breaths without forcing or judging. If you are familiar with any yogic breathing techniques, feel free to breathe in that way.
- Allow yourself to appreciate the stability of the surface beneath you. Silently, say “thank you for being my rock.”
Transition back into your day –
- Sit quietly for a few moments.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred, page 101, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2019.