For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, a time to die…
It seems I’ve been traveling quite a bit in the past couple of months. Between the ups and downs of airplanes, I felt the undulating cycles of life. The trees and plants are in different stages of emerging and fading, creeks rejuvenate after a stretch of drought, the moon waxes and wanes and the tides rise and fall.
The ancient cultures understood the constant rhythm of the universe, with one cycle gliding into the next. They experienced life as three threads spiraling 3-dimensionally at lightning speed, clockwise and counter-clockwise and in different directions around an unchanging core. Messages about this awareness were recorded with spiral carvings in caves, tombs, rocks and pottery around the world.
Even though our modern-day world is composed of straight-edged shapes in our architecture, furniture, streets, and screens, we exist within spirals. In nature, there are eddies, whirlpools, wind and smoke patterns, and lunar and solar cycles. Swirls and florets appear in elephant’s tusks, horns of wild sheep, pinecones, flowers such as the sunflower and calla lily, snails, snakes, shells, and galaxies. Besides a corkscrew-like umbilical cord and coiled inner ear, our bodies have whorls and waves in our fingertips, blood flow, navels, and bones, muscle, fascia and breath.
The natural forces of our existence radiate together in proportional harmonics defined by the Golden Spiral and Fibonacci progression, mathematical truths on the radiating movement of energy. Like an eternal song, everything vibrates together as a universal octave with eight steps and seven intervals. We see seven reflected in our days of the week, colors of the spectrum, and religious symbolism.
When I read this verse and/or hear it sung by the Byrds in Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” I feel a hidden nexus within the dynamic spiraling of opposites. Polarities seamlessly somersault, fold and unfold. Blossoms appear and fade away, the in-breath cycles into the out-breath, and I sense the harmonic movements of nature. What on the surface seem like linear, isolated events – such as spring, summer, birth, death – are instead moments of life arising and returning to the eternal source, again and again.
This practice can be done seated or standing. It is an exploration of the movement of sound. I suggest you read through the practice before beginning.
- Hug all your bones by tightly squeezing all your muscles from head to hand to toe. Hold the hugging for three to four seconds.
- Release. Be sure and let go through the palms of the hands and forehead. Smile and breathe freely.
- Repeat two more times.
- Open your mouth to create an extended “aah” sound.
- Imagine the pathway of the “aah” sound:
- begins at your navel,
- travels upward through the torso,
- across the back of the throat and palate, and
- out of the mouth.
- You may find it helpful to gently drawn in and up on the abdominal muscles to strengthen the sound.
- First, imagine that your “aah” is bounding up a ladder.
- Then, imagine that your “aah” is bounding up a spiral staircase.
- Play with the spiral of traveling counter-clockwise and clockwise, and broader at the base or narrower at the base.
Transition back into your day –
- Take a few minutes to sit quietly. Relax your hands and let them rest comfortably in your lap or on your thighs. Allow the eyes to be open with a soft gaze, or gently closed.
- Invite the feeling of spaciousness in all your cells from the heart-center outward, from the tips of your fingers and toes and the crown of your head back into the center of your heart. Clarity, openness everywhere.
- And, then transition back into your day.
This post is an excerpt from my book Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, pages 151-154. HEARTH is posted each full and new moon.