Nature Meditation (written 2016)
Marmots. Squirrels. Chipmunks. These abound around the monastery. Perhaps other “critters”, less visible, too? On my hot and sweaty Tee-shirt walk yesterday, something made a meal of me and I've several big red welts now. Combating the scratch reflex, I opt for antihistamines before breakfast and then find I'm sleepy in the sala in the sit that follows, struggling with “sloth and torpor”.
No one seems to be venturing outside with the low dark scoops of clouds and intermittent showers, but I layer up and go. At the door, from the communal basket, I choose an umbrella the color of milky chai. I go up the logging road instead of down today. At first, no rain, and although the ground is wet, it's not puddley. The umbrella is bound and swings in my breeze-chilled hand at my side. Breath. The shuffle of feet on the sandy path. I feel my pulse even and slow in my throat. Still drowsy but also energized by the motion. A lovely trance-like state.
Some ways up I find a huge stone under a little lodge pole pine and veer off the path to sit on its inviting flat bench-like surface. Room for the umbrella, still closed, beside me. Hands tucked between knees to warm. I am elements, among elements. My breath and the breeze. Air. The hard stone beneath me and the dirt under my feet, the long, firm bones of my body. Earth. The heat seeping into my hands and the sun sending its own warming fingers through the clouds. Fire. The rain begins a lighter than light patter. The soft thrum of blood in my veins is marked by the beat of my heart. Water. My eyes are closed and the pleasant energized trance continues. Air, earth, fire and water. This, just this, pleasant abiding.
In awhile the cold stone penetrates and I rouse myself, open the umbrella and walk on a little before choosing where I'll turn for the walk back.
Just as the members of the rhythm section in an orchestra take turns in leading, the patter of the rain is sometimes so light it is inaudible beneath the shuffle and step of my feet; then it will pick up, a tipping and tapping that envelopes me beneath the blossom of the open umbrella. Birds call, whistle and sing. Melody rising above the rhythm. And then, surprise, the deep thrumming of a grouse that I feel in my body as much as hear in my ears.
So it goes. Listening meditation now. Following sound. Back at the monastery the whole orchestra awakens as rain sings and rings on metal, taps or thunders on wooden ramps, and shushes through spouts and gutters.
I stop under the eave to shake out and fold the umbrella, to breathe in the stirred dust smells and the high scent of green. Then open the door and step back into a deeper silence. There is still a lethargy in my body that is a sign of deep relaxation...like after a sauna or massage. But the choice to move has brought my mind to a clear alertness. Not curled and sleepy now but sitting up and taking in. Being with the moment as it passes.