from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Monday, 13 January 2014

more silence: and then there's...

... the dance; which for me is another way of experiencing silence (silence-of-the-mind-via-music-and-body), as I did for two whole glorious hours this morning. How different it is dancing at the beginning of this year from last year, when my heart had taken me into a state of fear at its odd fibrillations, and where I didn't have the breath capacity (because my heart wasn't circulating oxygen through my body properly) to have any stamina.

This morning, outside the window, a thrush kept its covenant with sky. And the latter shifted through charcoal to pewter to silver to gold and back to the beginning of the cycle, just as the music too shifted and my body moved with it – no thought, no hesitation, no judgement, everything joined up.

And that, I realise, is the essence of silence for me: not in any way an absence, but a quality of presence that is all about alignment, continuity, uninterrupted flow of experience.

This presence is characterised by an unimpeded flow of circulation between inner and outer, self and other, cosmos and individual, immanent and transcendent. What interrupts it, breaks it, is not other, or sound, per se; but intrusive human-made dissonant sounds: heavy machinery, traffic, industry, loud voices, unskilful (intrusive or harsh) use of communication. 

And – words. Some words can convey silence – some poems, prayer, meditations; but I notice for me that reciprocal conversation, which usually at least in part takes me up into my head, will usually break the internal connections even as I may be making verbal – and wonderful – connection with another.

In the dance too, even without words, there's always the danger of my breaking my internal connections by an uncertainty around personal boundaries – and which of us gets that right all the time? Many of us are too porous; probably an equal number are not porous enough, emotionally-speaking. Five Rhythms dance allows you to see how you 'do' your daily life, also, mirror-wise – I've long been aware how easily I depart from myself in my eagerness to connect with another human – even as I also tend to linger just on the edges of total immersion in the group.

This too is about a relationship with silence (as I'm defining it), I'm seeing; something about maintaining an inner quiet and alignment no matter what is going on outside or around me. Of course, this is also part of the point of meditation.

So the challenge for me, both in and after the dance, or during my encounters with other humans (it doesn't ever happen with the other-than-human) is to hold to that internal silence, its quiet passages, even when I'm dancing, or talking, with another.

That's a lifetime's practice.


(As an aside, I often incorporate silent walking together in groups I lead. If you haven't ever tried walking in companionable silence with another, I do so recommend it.)

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