THE HIDDEN MESSAGES OF WATER
There is an understanding these days between us that things are tough. All conversations begin with, are you hanging in there?
In California at the moment, fires rage and the pandemic continues. This morning I woke to see that North Fork was being evacuated. North Fork is the site of the gorgeous Vipassana meditation center at which I have spent a couple of 10-day retreats. I think of the early morning walk to the meditation hall, and the faces of the single yellow daffodils lining the path up the hill.
The mornings of a silent retreat begin with a bell. Everything is signified by the sound of the bell, meals and calls to meditation, waking and sleeping. After the first day my ears become finely tuned to the warm, lovely sound. The mornings are foggy in the mountains. At 4:30AM it is still dark. As I move through the mist, others make their way as well, all of us shadowy beings holding on to the last bit of dream and bed warmth.
The meditation hall is barely lit in the morning, and I take my seat on the mat that becomes home for ten days. I always bring a cozy wrap for these cold mornings, and it can be dangerously comfortable. It’s important to sit straight to keep alert while meditating, but in these early morning meditations the head will nod, and little dreams will run through the warm awareness. “Sleepy Zazen,” I remember that phrase from the first book I ever read about meditation, The Three Pillars of Zen. Important to sit up straight to keep from drifting off. In Zen centers, the monks will hit you with a stick to avoid such drifting. I see the benefit, but prefer my own techniques to stay awake, or not.
After the meals at 6:30 and 11:30, before a rest, I always make a point to perambulate the grounds, get a little walk in to help the digestion. In one of the retreats in North Fork, I became fixated on the manzanita trees, their dark red spindly trunks, the light green color of the leaves, the pink hanging bouquets of flower. All senses become more vibrant when meditating for ten hours a day, it is inevitable. The contrasting colors of the manzanita were almost too much to bear.
My mind often chooses a fixating attraction to distract me during these retreats. After one retreat, I was speaking with a couple who had attended. Since men and women are separated during the time, the woman told me she was dying to hear how her husband had handled the experience. “I re-wired our entire house!” he beamingly announced when they could speak again.
During this retreat, the diversion my mind chose was decorating my apartment. I spent time detailing each improvement possible. I decided on paint and wallpaper, extravagant changes to our old place. Part of my obsession was musing on how I could find wallpaper with the exact colors of the manzanita. I planned to fill the large adjacent wall to the staircase with these images, these colors. I fantasized about having a garden of manzanita one day, how it would be to set out a picnic among such gorgeous color combination. I wanted to wrap myself in these colors and shapes. I guess really, I was longing to be a bird.
Since then, I have tried with limited success to see manzanita trees in the same way. Maybe I just haven’t come across them at that exact time of their blooming. Maybe the trees at the retreat center are extra beautiful because of the energy of the thousands of meditators passing by, hearts opening to the field of love vibration on which all reality sits. Maybe this kind of energetic food makes the trunks a little redder, the green of the leaves more arresting, shocking against the red.
I recently read The Hidden Messages of Water, about the scientist who began analyzing the effect of the energetic environment on crystals in water. If you haven’t seen these studies, you can pull up the images online and see the beautiful snow flake patterns of the sentiments “I love you” and the song “Amazing Grace,” and the chaotic, disrupted patterns of hate and negativity on the water crystals. The take-away is our own direct response of vibration and frequency in our field, and how our physical being, 70 percent water, might cultivate protection against disruption of our crystals.
This knowledge has created new rituals for me around the house. “Thank you water! Thank you! I love you!” before every hydration. “Thank you water! Thank you for keeping Henry healthy!” as I refill the pug’s bowl. I try to remember to do the same for my food, too. Suddenly, a little “thank you” before eating takes on new meaning.
The house plants get lots of praise every morning as well. I read that house plants are healthier if you name them, so that’s been fun. “Good morning Colin! Good morning Yam!”
It’s really nice, actually. I can’t go anywhere in this little apartment without praising someone. I wish I had known to do this before, rather than just speeding through the day ungratefully. It’s not hard at all to be thankful. Fires are burning and dire illness and hatred and struggle is all around, yet when I turn on the tap, water moves through the filter into the glass. The little teddy bear of a pug is healthy and lapping up the gift. The plants work all day to clear the air, transmute negative energy, provide beauty in my days. “Thank you water! Thank you Jade!”
I’ve been reading about some shamanic practices that entail traveling to the spirit of a tree, or a rock, or the ocean, or a mountain, and becoming this being. I read an account of a shaman who merged with a mountain, to understand what the mountain had to teach.
Very quickly I felt my entire body become stiff, as if frozen in time. I could hardly move my jaw, and my words came out slower and slower until I could no longer speak. I continued to say the words silently until that, too, became impossible. I felt heavy, dense, and immense. My hands, hanging over my knees, felt extremely heavy and seemed to get longer at the fingertips, as if they were stalactites, until they connected with the ground. I felt the wind upon my sides. I felt deep compassion for all creatures and beings living upon me – trees, bushes, mammals, birds, snakes, insects, humans. I felt love, and I cared for all. I knew I was being taught being, becoming, and compassion and that these qualities were somehow being imprinted in me. I retransformed very slowly and thanked the mountain. I felt peaceful and connected, part of the One.
The Shaman Within, Claude Poncelet
I remember once driving to Sacramento from San Francisco, and coming through the high yellow hills into the strip malls heading into Vacaville. I was startled by the personality of a low green hill a little way back from the highway.
I hadn’t been seeing the natural world as I drove, and recognizing the hill shocked me, as if the hill were somehow calling for my attention. It was joyful and perky, that hill. I saw how behind this web of traffic and asphalt and commerce was this gorgeous squat little being, just happy to be recognized. Ever since that first time, I always see that little hill when I come over that pass, and feel my heart open a bit.
Maybe I will try this practice of becoming a mountain, see what I learn.
As I write about these things, I am fully aware of being a delicious stereotype: there’s that wacky Californian, talking to mountains and water and plants. In fact, I live with the Old Man, who loves to comment so. He sent me a funny meme lately, something like, How can the world be so troubled when so many middle aged women have so many crystals? That cracked me up.
Kidding aside, communicating with our natural world seems more and more important as we move forward. It’s as if our society keeps being shocked as nature draws attention to itself. I think of that little hill, huddled in noise and grime and yet transmitting joy. I’m here if you want to take a look! Just hanging out loving you!
In deep meditation, I ask for answers. I trust this field of knowing at the base of Clem, that knowing that lies beneath the personality with all its biases. There is truth there, the field that connects all beings. We all have the ability to access this truth, I’m not special in this. I don’t mind calling this field morphic resonance, or particle memory, dark energy or consciousness or divine. I don’t get caught up in the semantics of it. There is a fundamental intelligence to our experience here, that we all share. Let’s say that. The intelligence of mountains is there too.
So in my meditation I asked, How can I help the world?
What I heard was:
The world helps you. Let the world love you. Allow the world to love you. Allow the world to show you its beauty. Allow the world to show you its kindness, how much love. Allow that. That’s how you help the world. Allow yourself to be loved. You have to learn that you’re able to be loved.
Allow the world to love you. Allow the world to sing your song. Allow your self to open to the divine in all ways. Approach the world in this way. Question definitions of bad and good. Allow love to flow, it is the only answer to every question. Allow love to flow into action. Allow love to flow into thought. Allow love to flow into movement of the heart, the simplicity of the heart. Whenever there is a judgment or barrier or border, it is an illusion. There is such joy.
I think of those manzanita trees on that beautiful land, a property devoted to providing space and time for people to freely connect with the truth of being. We are connected, those trees. Having communed deeply once, so forever. I imagine my love for them infusing their branches, protecting them from the fire, and from the thoughtlessness of humanity’s forgetfulness. I imagine my love for the trees spreading out, protecting the animals and the people and the heroes who risk their safety as I write. Thank you, water, for all your gifts.
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