This is a spot we had at Joshua Tree last week. Monzogranite formations. I’ve camped alongside a lot of monzogranitic rocks- in the Alabama Hills, at Joshua Tree, at Indian Bread Rocks, City of Rocks and Rockhound Parks in New Mexico. These relict forms draw us to be near them, to sleep under their protective embrace at night, to rest in their cool shade during the day, to scramble over and on top of them at all hours, but especially at sunrise and at dusk.
Yoga and meditation in these spaces is something more than magical- the body takes over from the mind and everything becomes breathing, stillness, and movement. The light that plays over the forms penetrates the heart and sends it soaring. The mind is stunned into silence and observation, but the body is in love. I think that it is almost like the earth undresses for us here, invites us into her body in a way that feels more intimate than it does in other settings.
I do feel differences when I sit in different places. Each place has its own resonance, its own language, and it is the body that responds most deeply to place. The mind notices, the mind is engaged, sure, this is lovely, that over there is gorgeous, it’s hot, what’s that bird, etc. This reminds me of that other place.
But the body unfurls itself and rolls in the grass or the dirt or the snow. The world penetrates the body, the breath brings the world into it, sounds reverberate through the tiny bones of the ear canal and the cells seem to spark to the new vibrations. Yoga makes this more obvious, more delectable, richer because we attune to it, to this presence in us and around us. It isn’t always easy to feel how we take the environment in, how we make of it the tiniest parts of our bodies, how we leave parts of ourselves wherever we go and take other parts with us- the exchange happens in each instant and without ceasing. But going outdoors, going into the wild, makes this process come into focus. And once we open to it, once we sense it and understand it and feel what it makes us feel, we can cultivate it. We can attend to it, notice it, and give thanks for all the richness and strangeness it brings into our whole selves, our bodies and our lives.
We are on this grand adventure. But the going different places, camping out, exploring, seeing new things, escaping from our old indoor lives- these are simply the requisite acts that allow for the true journey to unfold- the inner journey. Fifty years of living in buildings, sitting in cars, peeing and pooping in porcelain thrones, taking in numberless hours of television noise and stupidity, numbing myself with drink and drugs and netflix, only going outside on occasion, for an hour or two, or a weekend once a year- had made of me a dangerous, brittle, unhappy and unhealthy man. In one year I feel I have undone almost all of those bad years. My body is alive and my mind is no longer abusing it. Dethroned from its place of privilege, my mind is becoming a better friend- less brittle, less strict, less busy, less anxious and unhappy all the time. More easy going, more laid-back, and I think, happy to not be in charge any more. Freed from the tyranny of that bitter and fearful mind, my body rejoices. Freed from the isolation and slickness of the insides of buildings, my body is free and happy. Wandering under the blue sky, under the waxing and waning moon, under the blistering sun, in the weeds, in the woods, in the desert and the mountains, my body has regained its animal nature, its innate birthright. Everything feels good. Breathing feels better than drinking. I never thought I’d say anything like that, but it’s true.
Practice now is a hinge that swings a great door. All the wild beauty, the skies and the sun and the moon and the stars, the wolves and coyotes and snakes and lizzards and crows and hawks, the kangaroo rats and the tarantulas, the deer and the jackrabbits- all that wild and strange and particular beauty floods through me and into me and becomes me, and the inner world when I turn my gaze to it becomes just as wild and strange and particular. Just as in the outer world each moment, each space, each universe, is packed to the gills with writhing life, so too is the inner world completely free of nothingness. There is the luminous emptiness synonymous with form, and formless emptiness synonymous with light, but they co-exist in a ceaseless interdependent play. Sitting, there seems to be no way to discern anything acting as mediator between inside and outside.
I am so glad that I got to live this long. Even a single hour of this life is enough for me to die happy.
Namaste. Thanks for coming by.
I love you.