Saturday, November 12, 2005

It is our nature to be in nature

When a yoga retreat has over 40 people, it makes for a fairly hectic weekend for this bardo surfer. When you add six children to the mix it becomes an endurance marathon. The house here is nearly 100 years old - along with all the requisite antiques. The maplewood floors are original and I won't even mention the light fixtures. If that isn't tight rope wire enough for you then lets throw in the swimming pool (not fully enclosed) and the barranca (canyon) which runs all along behind the house - 60 feet away. Wooh! Feel free to take a breath. Lucky for me, I had the house sit up the road with a natural hot spring to relax and recharge.

To help alleviate the owner's stress, I was asked to help supervise the children. They are all great kids so it was kind of fun for the most part to share some of my little musical hobbies. Just a few hours ago I was teaching Griffin how to use his hands to make a hand flute. Not easy but he was starting to get the gist of it. This morning, the children were very energized. I started playing my big didj for them and they all really got in to it. Fascinated by my vocalizing, they kept asking me to say different word in rapid succession: Daisy: say glasses, Jai: say knights, Griffin: say stick, Sabrina: say Cindarella, Griffin: say Buddha etc. Thus I spend about 30 minutes playing for the kids. Afterwards, the group energy was very mellow. The two infants fell asleep and the kids made up and played various games in a fort they built out of mattress pads in one of th rooms.

Last night, after taking care of the plethora of tasks that encomapss my time during retreats, I went down the the kiva in the barranca with 2 didjeridoos, several candles and matches. I'd already had the fire burning down there for several hours so I just needed to add fresh fuel on top of the red hot embers to build up the fire once again. The last chore before beginning to play is the lighting of the tiki torches. Just as the last one is being lit I see the first 2 spectators making their way down the steps onto the canyon floor.

I start to play, it has been a week since the last time I played. The didj of choice for this performance becomes the "Wormhole Didj". It takes around 10 or 15 minutes for my body to warm up. I mix up my continuous playlist, chanting OM, OM AH HUM, OM MANI PADME HUM, OM GATI GATI PARA GATI PARA SUMA GATI BOHDISVAHA, along with some Pink Floyd: Comfortably numb and Soundgarden's Burden In My Hand. Someone records me on their IMac's Garage Band software.

The time goes by quickly and as I play it gets easier and easier. 20 miutes later or so, I stop and am asked a few questions. Q: "Where did the didjeridoo come from?" Me: "The aborigines in Australia". Q: "How did you learn to play?" Me: "In a round about way, initailly, it was too difficult for me to circular breathe, after practicing tai chi for 6 months, I realized my breath had radically changed. This motivated me to try once again to learn how to circular breathe with the didj. The second time was the charm, within 2 weeks I could do it. The first time that I circular breathed thru the didj, I went 10 minutes without stopping." Q: "When you play does your conscousness get altered? Me: "Yes, it feels like my hemispheres are synchronized and all the wrinkles in my mind, where the miscelaneous thoughts hide, are ironed out."

Saul then takes over with some teachings that help demonstrate the power of nature and our need to be emersed in it on a regular basis to maintain mental and physical health. He explains how we need the elements in our life in order to stay balanced. Lighting candles everyday, taking a bath every day, connecting with the earth and deep breathing are all ways of staying connected to nature because this is our nature. While he speaks, his son Jai falls asleep in his arms.