Meditation on Sounds

Click-click, a metal zipper taps against the drier drum.

Click-click, the house birds have come back to reclaim

their timeshare above my window.

A fledgling creature clicks and mewls from the upper branches of a tree

outside my window.

A crow creaks a greasy call across the street.

The whoosh of tires on asphalt, wind parted by metal hulks.

The cool swish of air on the in-breath, the warm puff on the out-breath.

Drawing air up to clavicles, I hear the click-click

of spines expanding along my upper back.

A thin click as lips part then close.

The muffled click of a wooden bead as a mala passes through my fingers.

***

Many beginning meditations instruct practitioners to listen to the sounds that come and go outside the room where they are sitting. We notice the sounds rise and fall away, without labeling them or trying to find out what is making the noise.

We then focus our awareness on sounds in the room where we are sitting. The point is to notice how sounds come and go, just like feelings and thoughts come and go. In between the sounds, feelings, and thoughts, we continuously draw the mind back to the breath.

I found that today I kept labeling the sounds. I knew I was going to spend time writing after I meditated, and so my mind kept sifting through the sounds and placing words on them.

But when I think back to all these tiny moments of small noises, I remember a gentle popping, clicking, humming– these are the continuous sounds of life. They are always there, rising and falling like waves in an ocean. We swim in a broth of sound waves.

Day 13: Mindfulness Writing, Writing Our Way Home.

Walks in Beauty

My friend, whose name on this blog is Walks in Beauty, is a poet.

Now in the process of gathering four years of poems to create a collection, she sometimes finds herself paralyzed with doubt about her ability to write publishable poems, even though she has met with extraordinary publishing success during these recent years.

Writing to publish is arduous, especially for a young poet with rare originality and verve like Walks in Beauty.

Desire for material success and our hope to be recognized for our unique talents often collides with the creative process.

Time is not on our side–we need to take courses, write papers, take comprehensive exams, publish, lengthen our CVs, receive fellowships, and teach in order to entertain the idea of finding a teaching position after the four to six years of graduate work are completed.

How can Walks in Beauty balance the timeless, spiritual act of creating with the more craven demands of the material world? How can any of us?

I’m quoting a passage from the Dalai Lama’s Essence of the Heart Sutra to encourage Walks in Beauty, myself, and anyone else who finds herself walking life’s tightrope.

Since happiness cannot be achieved through material conditions alone, we need other means by which we can achieve our aspirations. All the world religions offer means for fulfilling these aspirations, but I believe that such means can be developed independent of any religion or any belief. What is required is recognizing the immense potential we have as human beings and learning to utilize it. In fact, today, even in modern science, there is a growing recognition of the relationship between the body and the mind and an emerging understanding of how our mental attitudes impact our physical health and well-being. (6)

I’ve had an abiding interest in Hatha yoga for decades, but until this summer, as I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with my two awakening, young adult sons, I merely dabbled in yoga as a sort of New Age feel-good technique.

I found the Dalai Lama’s writings on the Heart Sutra among my son’s books. Philosopher read it first, and then Freeboarder picked it up. And I can tell from their actions they are living the words.

They have inspired me to really examine my thoughts, words, and actions, and what I have found is not always so good. I have hung my sense of self on a New Age, misty skeleton, creating a kind of Madam Trelawney character (Harry Potter reference for those of you uninitiated souls) who spins yarns about dreams and blurts out ridiculous non-sequiturs, a lovable yet silly woman.

I’m not sure yet about the meaning of these recent spiritual discoveries and how they relate to the creative process.

What comes to me today, right now, is that creativity is universal, sacred, and at times ritualized. Since this is my belief for now, it follows that the job market, publishing, and all the rest of our concerns and worries should take a back seat to the act of creation. We need to find what we really mean, what we truly want to express.

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My Beloved Child

Tara Brach, in her book Radical Acceptance, quotes the following prayer by Indian sage Swami Kripalu, who is also known as the Beloved Bapuji.

Leslie, the Tuesday morning yoga instructor at Yoga Great Barrington, read the prayer to us at the end of class when we were in savasana, and it brought tears to my eyes, not for myself exactly, but for all the young people getting ready to start their new school year.

My beloved child,
Break your heart no longer
Each time you judge yourself
you break your own heart
You stop feeding on the love which is
The wellspring of your own vitality
The time has come,
Your time
To live, to celebrate, to see
The goodness that you are…
Let no one,
No thing or ideal or idea obstruct you
If one comes, even in the name of “Truth,”
Forgive it for its unknowing
Do not fight
Let go
And breathe into
The goodness that you are.

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