for the eyes, ears, and heart


photography as spiritual practice

A few times a week these days, I run or walk around Lake Junaluska, and most of the time, everything there seems unremarkable—trees, clouds, flowers, water, signs, paths, bridges, etc. the usual outdoor stuff.  I am focused on a sort of moving meditation, counting breaths, running at a certain pace, avoiding eye contact with others, and often, just getting around the lake quickly.

However, recently I grabbed my phone and car key; threw them in a little bag around my neck; took a deep breath; and walked—without naming and unconsciously dismissing what I saw. 

Observing surroundings without the presumptive lens of knowing, (with mu-mind) unlocks worlds, universes. In Encinitas last winter, it just happened, spontaneously and continuously. First, at the beach I noticed that every day, every minute was different. I began to take pictures of every magical (to me) object or phenomena—no matter how small, monumental, terrible or cosmic it was—from planets, clouds, water, a dead seal, seaweed, plastic, and rocks—to grains of sand. 

After I returned to North Carolina, the nonjudgemental, unflinching seer continued for a while; then faded as shoulder pain dominated just about everything. So, when last week I brought my phone-camera to the lake—I did not expect to see much of anything. 

I was wrong! That little three mile walk turned out to be full of wonder and realization: what is present at Encinitas and the lake is everywhere. All things change as much as the seashore, and are never ever the same. What is more, we don't have to go anywhere to be inspired by "beauty." It is here, even in the distasteful or "ugly"! It is present in the most ordinary most overlooked surroundings. Even inside the home or office—the spectacular is happening.

Methodist sign, Lake Junaluska

I am NOT at all a photographer, though smiling as I write—but I do know what good art does—it expands consciousness, first artist's and then, viewer's. Hmmmm, so which comes first, greater awareness or the camera? Maybe Elin Slavick* knows. The many photos she shares on FB and elsewhere  are great examples of "seeing."

Joshua Tree, CA

sound as spiritual practice

Last Friday I attended a performance by a group called Battle Trance at the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center. These four saxophone players, true to the traditions of Black Mountain College and John Cage, provided another transport to consciousness for those of us in attendance, (those who did not walk out.) 

This sound art is not for everyone, and is not conventional music in any way. It pushed me right to the edge! At several points in the performance, and I cannot say why—I wanted to cry, to sob. The only experience I can liken it to is the intensity of the MRI that I had a while ago ( mu-moon-MRI ), because basically, in a far more wonderful way, it emptied my brain! 

And the breath. These guys are pranayama masters! They blew Blade of Love all 3 parts of it for about 45 minutes without a break, and at some points - they merely breathed into their instruments or whistled. 

Of course, live performance is very different from a recording, but here's a link, if one cares/dares to listen: blade-of-love, part 1


art as spiritual practice

Here is something I wrote in response to a radio conversation between my teacher and an artist: 
Creativity and spirituality are the same. 
Creativity comes from emptiness. It is accessible and present in everyone. Being present in the moment is part of it. 
I believe Truth can only be expressed and grasped through what we might call “art." However, art as it is a culturally defined, is a limited outlet because not only is art present in the traditionally accepted suspects —painting, sculpture, music, theater, dance, poetry etc., but whenever we are aware and present - we are making art/living creatively in truth. 
On a non-verbal  level this conversation fueled my trust in creativity/spirituality and in the ability to accept  all things. I yield gratefully to this energy.

Asheville, my house

yoga as spiritual practice

Now let's get real—my shoulder! This injury has been a VERY *difficult* and enlightening adventure. I have connected with some wonderful people who have provided support and information— an Ashtangi MD, Orthopedist, Physical Therapist Eileen Reihman, Ashtangis Karen Cairns, Larry Hobbs, and Lewis Rothlein, to name a few. Oh, and an MD in Asheville named Groh with some answers and a plan (other than shoulder surgery and giving up yoga—NOPE and NOPE!!) 

Am also connecting with doctors at Emory if all else fails, to see if ligament replacement (transplant) or stem cell (my own) therapy might be an option.

So issues relating to ego, pain (what is it? just very strong sensation?), aging, attachment, adapting, acceptance, perseverance and just about everything else have come up. Glory be! What's true on the mat is true off the mat.

 And if, after trying everything, I have to give up (Ashtanga) asanas, I will become a runner yogi, a breathing yogi, a meditating yogi, a healing yogi, a laughing yogi, a bad yogi, a silly yogi, a nothing-yogi and/or a WHAT —EVAH YOGI.


everything as spiritual practice


my brother died august 4




No comments:

Post a Comment