On Mid-Summer's Day
By Marilyn Gilbert
When I was a student of massage, eclectic spirituality and healing in the early '80s, in Boulder, Colorado, I asked Kenneth "Bear Hawk" Cohen, my friend and teacher of Taoist and Native American studies, "How do you know when you are 'one with the Tao?'"
He quoted one of his teachers, answering, "Everything is alive."
I have recalled his words on many occasions of discovering how mindful awareness brings us back to the ordinary world of our senses in an alive way. Quite distinct from conceptualizing about reality, the experiencing of reality is almost indescribable. ("The Way that can be named is not the Way.") However, being the poet and word-mongerer that I have been for most of my four-plus decades on this Earth walk, I continue to try rendering into metaphor the experience of the tactile, visual, auditory, gustatory, and kinesthetic portals to awakening which abound in human life.
As a gourmet foods afficionada and cook, I delight in the coming of the Summer Solstice with its cornucopia of organic produce, cooling raw materials for sustenance of body and soul in the oft-times immobilizing heat of desert summer--deep orange mangoes, red seedless watermelon, yellow and white sweet corn, yellow and green summer squashes. Biting into a ripe mango, quintessence of Mexican sun, the sweet musky juice running down my chin, I am no other place in time.
In Chinese medicine, summer is the season of the Heart, and the emotion of the heart is joy. For me, the experience of aliveness, being one with the present moment, is the opening of the heart that supersedes all experience.
Noticing the sensations around the heart-- chest tight? sadness present? heartbeat strong, steady or irregular--I can breathe into my heart with awareness of what is, no matter how painful it may be, soften and open to it, and watch what happens next.
Often, happiness happens. Indeed, the dance of the heart which produces optimal health is happiness. The monk, Thich Nhat Hanh and the poet, Rumi, were on the same wavelength when they wrote, respectively:
Breathing in, I calm my body,
Let the beauty that you love be what you do.
On Mid-Summer's Day, as the light reaches its zenith, may our hearts and the heart of the Earth dance as one.
May it be done in Beauty.
Marilyn Gilbert, MS, CHES, LMT, is a stress management/wellness educator, Jin Shin/massage practitioner, solo parent and original Valley Girl; now living in Tucson with her two beloved stress Masters, Ayla Rose, 13, and ginger-cat, Rudy. Marilyn has studied with Shinzen Young, Ch–gyam Trungpa, Cherokee medicinewoman Dhyani Ywahoo, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, and (as she puts it) "daily honors her roots in John Bilby's coachings of the Awareness Game, lo these eighteen years."