Indeed, the ineffability of the air seems akin to the ineffability of awareness itself, and we should not be surprised that many indigenous peoples construe awareness, or “mind,” not as a power that resides inside their heads, but rather as a quality that they themselves are inside of, along with the other animals and the plants, the mountains and the clouds. – David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous
Thank you, Gioconda, for sharing that quote at the beginning of your yoga class a few weeks ago, and thanks for sending me the actual text and source. The profundity of this quote has been playing with me.
I invite you in this transitional week leading to the new year to play with this concept, to try it on. Ask yourself these questions.
Better yet, pull some questions out of thin air!
What if mind, or awareness, is something we walk around in and live our entire lives inside of, like the air?
What if our entire bodies — torsos, limbs, skin, bone, muscle, organ, connective tissue — are as immersed in this mind as our heads are? Can you experience yourself that way? Can you know with your toes? Discern with your liver? Learn with your heart? Understand with your hand?
What if mind is an element like air? Among the elements, air does represents mind — what if it is mind? We breathe it in for nourishment and exhale into it for release? Does that give new significance to your breathing? And because everyone is doing this all the time, what if the quality of Mind changes by what you and others put into it and take out of it?
Is this the illusion or is it real? Is this consensual reality?
What if expanding your mind, or if you prefer, expanding your awareness, is nothing more than more sensitively experiencing yourself and your surroundings?
And, what if there is no limit to how sensitively you can do this?
What if the boundary between self and environment is just a convenient construct for communication purposes but actually doesn’t exist?
For more on David Abram, here’s a chapter from The Spell of the Sensuous. Excerpt:
For none of the several island sorcerers whom I came to know in Indonesia, nor any of the djankris with whom I lived in Nepal, considered their work as ritual healers to be their major role or function within their communities. Most of them, to be sure, were the primary healers or “doctors” for the villages in their vicinity, and they were often spoken of as such by the inhabitants of those villages. But the villagers also sometimes spoke of them, in low voices and in very private conversations, as witches (lejaks in Bali)–dark magicians who at night might well be practicing their healing spells backward in order to afflict people with the very diseases that they would later cure by day. I myself never consciously saw any of the magicians or shamans with whom I became acquainted engage in magic for harmful purposes, nor any convincing evidence that they had ever done so. Yet I was struck by the fact that none of them ever did or said anything to counter such disturbing rumors and speculations, which circulated quietly through the regions where they lived. Slowly I came to recognize that it was through the agency of such rumors, and the ambiguous fears that such rumors engendered, that the sorcerers were able to maintain a basic level of privacy. By allowing the inevitable suspicions and fears to circulate unhindered in the region, the sorcerers ensured that only those who were in real and profound need of their [healing] skills would dare to approach them for help. This privacy, in turn, left the magicians free to their primary craft and function.
A clue to this function may be found in the circumstance that such magicians rarely dwell at the heart of their village; rather, their dwellings are commonly at the spatial periphery of the community amid the surrounding rice fields, at the edge of the forest, or among a cluster of boulders. For the magician’s intelligence is not circumscribed within the society–its place is at the edge, mediating between the human community and the larger community of beings upon which the village depends for its nourishment and sustenance.
For more on Gioconda Yoga, click here. She’s got some cool workshops coming up!
(By the way, this is my 500th blog post. When I started this blog two years ago, I had no idea I’d post 500 times or post about this topic. Yay life for creating itself anew every day!)