To the extent that each person can feel like a naturalist, the old excitement of the untrammeled world will be regained. I offer this as a formula of re-enchantment to invigorate poetry and myth: mysterious and little know organisms live within walking distance of where you sit.
Splendor awaits in minute proportions. -
E.O. Wilson

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Being a Person
By William Stafford

Be a person here.
Stand by the river, invoke the owls.
Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own call.
After that sound goes away, wait.
A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.
[Come back, and hear that call.]
Suddenly this dream you are having matches
Everyone’s dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn’t be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.
How you stand here is important.
How you listen for the next things to happen.
How you breathe

Many Hindus and Buddhists believe that OM is the sound the universe made when it was created
Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us—that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.

Seat yourself comfortably, and begin to chant Om which is actually three syllables - ah - oh- m.  Chanting allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal sound, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.  When you chant OM try to feel the vibrations in your head and your chest, feel them moving outward into the world and at the same time deep inside. Now open your ears and listen:  (here we listen to recordings of whales, loons, peepers, an owl, and a wolf.  You can easily find these sounds to listen to on your computer. 

Once your ears are open go to a place outdoors.  Greet your circle or your temporary place with gratitude. Revisit the colors you enjoyed last week. In any way that feels right to you, ask your circle to "speak" to you this morning. Get seated comfortably and focus on listening.

Today there are two things to do in your circle. First do some active listening. Here are some things to try, adapted from tracker, Tom Brown, Jr.:

1. Open your ears. With the onslaught of sounds we face in society, we loose a significant portion of our sense of hearing. Turn up the volume of everything that is around you. What can you hear? Listen bigger! Can you hear more?
2. Try closing your eyes to minimize distraction and concentrate on hearing.
3. Instead of trying to identify and name the sounds, just listen to them, enjoy them as a musician might enjoy a fine orchestra. Can you hear sounds within sounds.
4. Amplify the sounds by cupping your ears with your hands. Your ears become more directed. It is a little like using binoculars to enhance your sight. Learn from the dog… when a dog hears its name, it looks in the direction of the sound and then perks its ears up. Play with cupping your ears to determine distance and range of a sound.
5. Place your ears next to natural objects like rocks, trees, log, or even heavy brush. Sometimes these can "catch" or amplify sounds. Move around your circle a bit. Does what you hear change?
6. Try to identify maker of sound. Can you see what is making the sound?

Second, use your voice to try to mimic the sounds you hear. Don't worry that someone will hear you, just be part of the world you are in. Have fun joining in.

What sound can you make using things you can find within your circle?

Choose one sound that you can make with either objects or your own voice that seems best for your place, the one that makes you feel like you are singing WITH your place.  Consider how hearing more fully might change your relationships with nature, strangers, your friends and family, and yourself. 

This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
And, leaving,
Left to us.

No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.

~ Gregory Orr ~

How can you turn yourself into song? How can you sing yourself awake?

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