The AUM in All Things
I've never practiced yoga as I've always felt that writing was yoga enough, somehow. To write well, to think well, one must dine well, as Virginia Woolf famously said. But one must also breathe well. Poets are a little obsessed with the line and the breath, but anyone who writes thinks about the cadences of a sentence, the stop and start of them, the breath and the flow.
This past week has been dull and it's been cold in Edmonton. Many mornings it's been -28 or -29c with the windchill. It was time to haul my serious grey winter parka up from the basement, and get the 'good to minus 40' Sorels out of the garage. It's the kind of weather where you wear two pairs of pants if you're out for more than 10 minutes.
It's the kind of weather where you put your hood up over your toque and create a quiet chamber for yourself. And it's in this world where the winter walking meditation begins.
Not everyone is necessarily suited for a yoga practice, but meditation is something anyone can do.
Walking in winter, I notice my breath. Sometimes you can literally watch the lovely fog of your own breath. I notice things along the path. I take them in, I let them out. In my cocoon world, I can hear the hum of the universe, my own footsteps a distant scrunch of snow.
I often think of Joseph Campbell's description of his meeting with Jung and their discussion of OM, or AUM. In Reflections on the Art of Living, Campbell says:
If you want to hear AUM, just cover your ears and you'll hear it. Of course, what you are hearing is the blood in the capillaries, but it's AUM: Ah - waking consciousness; ou - dream consciousness; and then, mmm - the realm of deep, dreamless sleep. AUM is the sound of the radiance of God. This is the most mysterious and important thing to understand, but once you get the idea, it's very simple.
He goes on:
The point is that this AUM heard in silence informs all things. All things are manifestations of it. Now you are inward turned. The secret to having a spiritual life as you move in the world is to hear the AUM in all things all the time. If you do, everything is transformed. You no longer have to go anywhere to find your fulfillment and achievement and the treasure you seek. It is here. It is everywhere.
As I walk down my familiar paths in the cold and snow, this is often the mantra, the oldest, simplest one: AUM.
It seems to be enough.