There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of bodies, of body on body, wind on snow, rain on trees, wave on stone. It is a language of dreams, of gesture, of symbol, of memory. We have forgotten this language, forgotten it for so long we do not even remember that it exists. If we are to survive, we must again remember this language. We must learn how to think like the planet.
When Upton started teaching, he borrowed one of White’s most effective techniques to help students engage deeply with an image: a concentration exercise.
“You get students to relax, starting with their face and moving down their shoulders,” Upton said. “You bring the relaxation down to the feet, holding it there a minute. You let the energy come back up through your body and bring it to your eyes.”
When students opened their eyes, they would be looking at a photograph. Upton would question them and have them write down and later share their answers.
“What did you feel in your body when you first saw the image? What kind of emotional reaction did you have? What did you learn intellectually from the image?”
Since all Tzutujil shamans, myself included, understand that the human body contains the whole world, in order to cure disease or pain a shaman had to become a charmer of that world. A shaman had to become nature, not just an observer of nature… The highest shamanic ability was to keep your nature intact while surrounded by the goings-on of a human village.
(We become) mesmerized by our increased ablities and position in life until we are unable to remember where we really came from and what being alive on this earth really entails. All of my training made this vision so full that I began to remember having forgotten.
It was nature, wildness, this undomesticated spirit that fled when it got enslaved, insulted, maimed, beaten, or scared. This trespass on one’s personal nature or soul is what Mayan shamans considered the prime source of illness to humans.
I kept getting the message to get out of bed and take a picture of the sky, which felt like liquid platinum. Finally, I did it. It surprised me to see that the picture I chose was taken at 7:22 on 7/22.
Yesterday I immersed myself in the spirit of Ireland through the music at the weekly session at McGinley’s. The music erases boundaries between countries and exudes joy. Is it a coincidence that Jim Kerr, guitarist, is also a juggler?
The current sand painting is helping me to feel that I am seen for who I am, and that I have loving, constant support for that. I feel the presence of the ancestors. I feel held by Earth and Sky. The nasturtiums entered today, after I made a “sky” with “weeping birch” branches that had blown onto the sidewalk. I inserted nasturtium “stars.” This makes the sand painting feel so much more complete!
During meditation, I experienced the sense of being part of a woven pattern of liquid colored light “fibers.” There was no sense that there was any division between myself and other. There was only one, and it was a fascinating pattern of endless possibility. There was also the sense that if I went more deeply into this pattern, anything might manifest.
I was realizing what great fear “consensual reality” generates in us when we let it keep us in the grip of the experience of linear time. Listening to storytelling and meditating with either open or closed eyes are two of the ways through which this grip of linear time is loosened. We don’t have to “believe” this is so; no “faith” required. We just need to try for ourselves.