Since I was cut from the reed bed
I have made
this crying sound. Anyone
separated from someone he loves
understands what I say:
from a source
longs to go back.
Translated by Coleman Barks
The morning light was intense. Its radiance blurred the usual distinctive outlines of the trees and pathways. In the near absence of these visual cues, I felt the soundscape pour into my awareness.
A swoosh passed overhead, reminding me of the crows along this path accompanying any passerby with aerial playfulness. One of my shoelaces clicked rhythmically with each footstep. Between the trill of sound birds, there was an occasionally rustling of the tree branches. Just as the sun shifted and shapes began to reappear, I felt myself drawn toward a distant roaring.
There was something primal about the consistency of this sound. Rather than a roar, it was perhaps more akin to a purr or even a steady murmuring of “aaaah.” It was something outside my inner textbook of rumbling sounds, most of which are human-created roars with machinery or large crowds. This murmuring seemed to be a call to remember the sacred sound of life.
A continuum of “aaaah” not only expressing euphoric exaltation of awe but, even more poignantly, the gut-felt wail of deep torment and heartache. Even symbolically, the expansive openness of a long “a” disappears into the crisp brevity of the “h,” which then leaves a void for the “aaaah” to arise again. An endless cycle gracing, shedding and renewing itself within each breath, pulsebeat, footstep, or any other earthly gesture. Here, that gesture was a waterfall.
Although I could not yet see the falls, the path meandered in the direction of the sound. Along the way there were giant boulders and rock faces shaped long ago by glaciers. Meadows stretched across open spaces, offering soundless expression of the same snowmelt that relentlessly and loudly sighed “aaah” in tumbling over the rocky cliff. Soon, moisture would evaporate and again rise upward toward the sky, forming clouds; then, likely another round of snow, later melting in the intensity of sunlight.
This practice supports awareness of an inner anchor of peacefulness in the midst of chaos.
- Either standing or seated, slowly stretch your arms outward and upward. (If you have shoulder issues, please adjust this movement to your comfort level.) Breathe here for one or two gentle breaths.
- Slowly, on an exhalation bring your palms to the top of your head allowing their weight to rest there. Breathe her for one or two gentle breaths.
- Then, on your next exhalation, allow your hands to slide down across your face to your shoulders, torso and thighs. If comfortable, slide them down your legs toward the floor. Imagine as though all the tension in your body is melting away with the warmth of your hands.
- Slowly, on next inhalation, come back to a neutral spine, either standing or seated upright. Again, breathe here for several gentle breaths.
- If comfortable, close your eyes. Invite an awareness of the surface beneath you fully and unconditionally supporting your weight and offering a sense of peaceful groundedness.
- Invite a few easy breaths. Then, rest one hand over the other on your heart center.
- Allow yourself to feel the gentle movement associated with your breathing beneath your hands – a slight expansion on the inhalation and gentle softening inward of the ribs as you exhale.
- With your hands still resting on your heart center, quietly say the sound “aaaah” 5-6 times, allowing each to seamlessly arise after one another.
- Invite your hands to rest on your thighs in any position that is comfortable. Mentally, repeat the sound “aaaah” 5-6 more times.
- Pause. Invite a sense of peaceful, inner spaciousness.
Transition Back into Your Day—
- Sit quietly for several minutes, in any way that is comfortable.
- Then, when you are ready, return to your day.
This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 12, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2022.