Inhale Poetry; Exhale Prayer

Inhale Poetry; Exhale Prayer

A tribute and dedication to the

Corrymeela Community

It is April! Celebrate poetry!

A poet whom I had not heard of before a month ago has entered into my awareness, and I write this post to honor the significance of my encounter with his work.

The poet’s name is Pádraig Ó Tuama.

In the beginning of March, I received an e mail from “Poem-a-Day,” an e mail list I subscribe to. I subscribe to so many lists that I quickly glance at message subject lines and am very selective about taking time to open a message. But on this day, the subject line “Makebelieve” intrigued me enough to click open the e mail message that contained Pádraig Ó Tuama’s poem, “Makebelieve.” One click is all…

One never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail message may lead, especially when that message contains a poem with these opening lines: “And on the first day / god made / something up.”

Now, receiving these words delighted me. Fun! To perceive the entire creation can be, quite possibly, one exuberant jazz improvisation! It is great fun to make something up. You go, god! It’s playful! In my own experience, playfulness is the closest I come to divinity. So, yes, I’m in, here we go, let’s play!

In the spirit of improvisation, I encounter this poem, wondering what I can make up here. Suppose this is a first day because, really, it must be a first day of something somewhere for someone. Today is Day One of “Makebelieve.”

Yogi Bhajan taught a meditation that repeats the mantra, “God and Me. Me and God are One.” Repetition of such words primes consciousness to realize Self, God and Creation are one great, shimmering, spinning thrum of spontaneity. With such awareness, the Self may encounter “Makebelieve” as inspiring a creation.

Hello to the flow of possibility!

“Makebelieve” enters my consciousness and begins its elfin dance in my world.

I inhale the entire poem deeply. Let open my cells, nerves, muscles, organs, glands. May I embrace the poem’s vibration within my body. Even the space between each word in the poem enters into my tissues, cells, and nerves. Let words of “Makebelieve” resonate throughout my 72,000 nadis and add to the gospel according to Ida, Pingala, and Sushmana!

And on the first day

god made

something up.

Then everything came along:

seconds, sex and

beasts and breaths and rabies;

hunger and healings,

lust and lust’s rejections;

swarming things that swarm

inside the dirt;

girth and grind

and grit and shit and all shit’s

functions;

rings inside the treetrunk

and branches broken by the snow;

pig’s hearts and stars,

mystery, suspense and stingrays;

insects, blood

and interests and death;

eventually, us,

with all our viruses, laments and

curiosities;

all our songs and made-up stories;

and our songs about the stories

we’ve forgotten;

and all that we’ve forgotten we’ve

forgotten;

and to hold it all together god made

time

and those rhyming seasons

that display decay.


Pádraig Ó Tuama

Read it again over long moments and visualize welcoming this poem into my pineal gland, and inviting the pineal gland to secrete its Nectar of Mystic Pleasure.

I read the poem over and over aloud and then in a whisper and then silently. I inhale and suspend the breath inside while I silently repeat the poem.

Then I exhale and suspend the breath out while I silently repeat the poem.

Filling and emptying myself with poem and with breath in this way I can amuse / observe myself for hours. I combine a simple, ancient yogic breathing pattern with deeply experiencing this one good contemporary poem. And guess what, Mister Pádraig Ó Tuama? I am meditating with your poem, and breathing consciously all while sitting in my yogi cave! And after regarding your work, sir, I do know how you feel about caves. Hello to the Cave between my eyebrows! Welcome in! You, sir, have nothing to fear in this yogi cave as you are welcomed here with great reverence. Friend, you are known in here as

The Lord of the Rings Inside Tree Trunks!

Not that you created the rings inside tree trunks, but you created my fresh-colored awareness of them. Before I read your poem, the rings inside tree trunks were brown. After reading your poem, for me, the rings inside tree trunks are brown tinged with gold.

Let’s just sit here the day long and breathe this poem. Let every word and thought be intimately entwined with breath awareness. Any poem worth reading demands The Slowed-Breath Reading. Elongate the moments of the poem; take it word by word with lots of pause and be aware of the eye’s movements: ask, over which words or spaces do my lids close then open, close then open? What unseen dust do my lashes flit off? What of the play of light the words toss inside these eyes? When I happen upon a word or groups of words I adore, am I open to regarding their effect inside my body as miraculous as, say, news of the birth of our world’s beloved Savior?

Can breathing and being with this one poem align me up for longed-for, deep-connection encounters with my fellow word-lovers who delight in the wordly realm of divine play?

I seek and find a travel companion in this complete stranger, this Gay Irish Catholic poet named Pádraig, who knows nothing whatsoever of my own queer existence. Now, a shadow of me may lurk in his subconscious mind somewhere as “the reader,” but the way his writing resonates with me, I would have to insist I know him too well. I want to proclaim I am his Brother.

Now, I know I can be perceived to be wearing a woman’s body. But the hug I imagine giving my Brother to thank him for his writings, the heart hug I imagine giving him, is a hug that I give him with a man’s arms, with a man’s heart, with a generous amount of gratitude and admiration transferred through all my man-muscles squeezing. And when we regularly squeeze tension into our muscles and then release, we learn how to let go of tension. Hug often. Squeeze often. Let go often.

But now back to “Poem-a-Day.” This daily e mail offers so much more in one e mail message than one poem per day.

Now I choose to create infinite amounts of time, leisure, open hours, quiet light that urges me to listen to the voice of my soul that says, yes, explore here! Though I have a list of “things to do,” I am choosing to listen to my soul and take a heartfelt dive into this here rich library of resources before me offered by Poetry.org. What truth does this tell about my relationship to my “to do” list?

This e mail message relays all sorts of things that relate to the poem, “Makebelieve.” Welcome all this now to relate to all of me. Let me dwell and draw out this moment when my first encounter with this poem, this poet, this stranger exudes its power. The power of this Stranger is that he piques my curiosity, invites me into a fresh realm of the contemplative journey, a new mystery, and fabulous play. Over the month of March, I have been submersing myself in his writing, and my encounter with this writer is guiding me on a lyrical pilgrimage.

He is returning me, after a long time exploring a variety of sacred texts and bowing to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, his work is returning me to explore love for the The Holy Bible.

The “Makebelieve” poem comes with a list of titles by the author, plus any links to further resources. In the first encounter, I learned a bit of biographical information about Pádraig Ó Tuama. Here is his insight that instantly invited my joyful participation.

“When it comes to ‘Freedom of Religion’, much attention is given to the words freedom and religion. However, the of is also worthy of mention. Religion is free; it is free to query, to make meaning, to break things, to make things up. Religion is—or should be—free to change too, or to wrap itself around the delight and devastation of the human condition. Religion does not only provide a storypoem about the earth’s creation, it also provides a form by which we can create, and recreate, break and makebelieve. We are made of humus, the old texts tell us—we are also made of rot and time; danger and demand. In the beginning was a…what? You tell me.”


Pádraig Ó Tuama

In this beginning right now is longing for friendship. So, I continue to be here. I learn he wrote a book of poems called Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. Reading a bit further, I learn that The Corrymeela Community is Ireland’s oldest reconciliation community. An easy click on the content below that leads me to the Corrymeela Community homepage.

In the “About Us” page, I read that the Corrymeela Community is a people of “prayers, conversation, curiosity, and questioning.” Instantly, I think, Yes, I adore these people! This is my kind of community. How I long to retreat to such a place where people are devoted to sitting fireside together, drinking cups of tea and engaging in deep, honest conversations about difficult subjects.

How I long to spend every Spring season reading poetry, meditating, practicing yoga kriya, and praying my radiant heart out. Then wouldn’t it be nice to sit down with any person, idea, or state of being that has hurt or helped me and engage in a good, long, difficult talk?

Hello to the distance between us.

Hello to closing that distance with sharing contemplative writing.

Instantly, I ordered my own copy of Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. When it arrived to my home in California several days later, I read it over and over. And to dive into the details of how my physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and etheric bodies encounter these quiet poems will take so much longer than this blog post. So now all that and all I wish to contemplate and write while slowly reading through his book In the Shelter is filling page after page of my quiet notebooks.

Hello to pure contentment.

Hello to my solitary cloister.

I like to contemplate the different ways we sit with the body when we are in prayer; more specifically, I wonder at the various ways we place the hands to pray. Friend, when you pray, do you fold your hands in what yogis refer to as a Venus lock, with the fingers interlaced and finger tips resting on the back of the hands; or do you press your palms together with the fingers aligned upright pointing each skyward, palm flat against palm, and pressing with a bit of pressure between the palms? Do you pray with the forehead kissing the Earth? What gesture do you use to express that your head serves your heart? What ways do you proclaim to the cosmos your sense of humility and awe in the presence of the divine? Perhaps you find comfort in returning to the curled position humans assume in the womb, all curled up, you pray? In what position do you pray? I wonder: How did Jesus hold his hands and his body, privately, while he was making his most private, inward, anguished prayer? What did Jesus feel within his spine? What word did he use to describe the sensations within his Brahmarandhra?

I love to imagine myself present while the Corrymeela Community prays. I image myself engaging in conversations, arguments, question and answer sessions with everyday people who have endured great suffering and conflict. Let me pour you a cup of tea. Let us bow our heads. Let us pray. Let us breathe. Though I am far away and a complete stranger, please feel me close to you. Feel a friend near, a yogi with a big, generous heart. Please welcome me as one who longs to hear your stories of all that troubles you and all that comforts you.

Here is what I admire about the Corrymeela Community: they sincerely work “to be engaged with the world at its points of fracture, faith and potential.” This resonates with me as a kundalini yogi because Kundalini is defined as “the creative potential within a being.” Potential is always beloved of yogis and this potential blooms from within.

Sadhguru says it like this:


If you know how to be equanimous and exuberant at the same time, there will be no fear. Whatever situation you may face, life will always be beautiful. Once there is exuberance and equanimity in you, your destiny will not be ruled by what happens around you, but only by what happens within you.

Sadhguru

I am full of exuberance about this poet I have met through the written word. In my mind and heart I behold his writing…slowly. Perhaps it seems that circumstances prohibit me from physically visiting the Corrymeela Community at this time, other than through my online journey. But as a yogi, I intend to project my subtle body, my intention, and my prayers, which know no bounds. I practice yogic art of subtle transmission to pay my visit to Corrymeela Community. Dear Friends, I am listening.

Here is how I intend to be present and celebrate and be with this community:

I dedicate my own 40 days of kundalini yoga practice of Creative Energy Kriya and the Meditation for Word Power to the Corrymeela Community in “[The] North[ern] [of] Ireland.” Throughout these 40 days, may whatever shifts I observe in my body, my thoughts, my energy, and my consciousness be a dedication to all beings who encounter fracture, faith, and potential. May we engage in these encounters with sensitivity, awareness, listening, and longing for peace. May this practice resonate loving solidarity with those who pray from a place of witness, from a place of humility, from a place of feeling the touch of God’s grace within the depths of human longing.

I repeat: one never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail may lead. Embracing this mystery compels me to wonder at and imagine the ripples, ramifications and consequences of my larger gestures, the great actions I embark upon throughout the day. What will my hands touch? Where will these feet take me? What words will this tongue speak and what impact will all of that movement have, if any? Would it be better or worse if I keep quiet and be still?

So, to close, I shall bow–forehead smooching dirt–to that singular moment when I clicked open that “Poem-a-Day” message. I bow again to the flow that carried me with my own curiosity through the caves within the land of “Makebelieve.” And I bow to every small gesture that guided the poet,
Pádraig Ó Tuama, to complete and share his poem “Makebelieve.” I bow to everyone who reads the poem and encounters it with their full consciousness. As this will keep me bowing for quite some time, I surrender some part of my Self to dwell in an inward repetition of Infinite Pranams.

Here is a prayer: May this forty-day Sadhana be a journey into deeper awareness of how creative energy works and what we do now, and can do, with creative energy. May there be realization of heart-to-heart connection. And though each personal “here and now” may seem distant, different, dissonant, or distinct from one another, may we perceive at the heart a brotherhood of glory and a brotherhood of grace. May we come to appreciate the ways in which we are co-creators of peace, conscious repeaters of hurts and reconciliations, and quiet strugglers with internal conflict in a universe of ever-shifting bounds and seasons. May I feel the courage to ask: Is there room enough at your table, you who explore the “Spirituality of Conflict,” to be open to a dialogue with one who wants to learn more about you as she also studies the very-softly-whispering gospels according to Ida, Pingala and Shushmana (the three subtle energy channels that run on the left, right and middle of the human spine that are most important to ancient yogis)?

May every inhale gift a poem; may every exhale give a prayer.

Sat Nam!



In the Shelter Talk with dear Pádraig

Garland of Words

Garland of Words

This garland of words attempts to engage in an intimate reading of the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens with the sensibility and sensitivity of a yogi.

Just for fun, I tried this breathing pattern: while reading Owens novel, I inhale slowly and deeply through the pursed lips as if drinking in Life, and exhale very slowly and completely through the nose.  Breathing and reading so slowly and deeply, I place my gaze and easygoing concentration on one word then the next. This makes the act of reading a very slow and sensual meditation.

In this way, let us awaken the wisdom of the ecstatic tremor here and now.

Try it, Beloved Friend. For now, breathe slowly and deeply through the pursed lips while we focus together closely on this one scene in the novel.

Tate is the young man who teaches Kya to read. Eventually their physical desire to touch each other reaches the climactic point where they must kiss.

In this moment, Tate asks Kya a loaded question, “Where is your Ma?” Kya reveals the heartbreak: her mother abandoned her. In his turn, Tate shares the loss of his mother and sister in a fatal car accident. United in the psychological scar of Losing Mother revs up to the moment when they smash lip to lip. Here goes:

“And just at that second, the wind picked up, and thousands upon thousands of yellow sycamore leaves broke from their life support and streamed across the sky. Autumn leaves don’t fall; they fly. They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar. Reflecting sunlight, they swirl and sail and flutter on the wind drafts.”

These leaves, flying, no, soaring into death, spark joy. In the spirit of feeling the freedom that is Death, Tate rises and invites Kya to play, to catch as many leaves as they can before the leaves touch the ground. In the height of fun, they bump and lock in their gaze.

“He took her shoulders, hesitated an instant, then kissed her lips as the leaves rained and danced around them as silently as snow.”

Where the Crawdads Sing, page 124

Owens writes the scene with the grace of a wildlife lover. Her expression gives a sense that the bliss these characters enjoy in this kiss is the bliss always in the trees, the leaves, the birds, the sky, the marsh, and the stars — all joined together in the Dance of Life. What’s more, Tate and Kya’s kiss brings awareness to the inner life of trees, leaves, birds, sky, and star as these beings eternally tremble with the same energy that humans tremble with when two humans kiss.

Tate and Kya’s moment of union creates bliss in the human physical body, the intense pleasure of two beings kissing. Often it takes kissing for humans to remember the bliss quiver of life that is always present in every piece of life. This is a state of being that we long to connect to with a human physical body; but what does it take to maintain the human body to be completely free of any pain or discomfort and to abandon all that we are to pure thrill and excitement? We long for this state of pleasure because in this state it is easiest to sense the Sacred Tremor that is always there, or what tantrikas* refer to as Spanda. (*Please note that tantrika is simply a spiritual adept who knows how to weave the energies of the sacred into every dimension of life: eating, shitting, fucking, fighting, the comic and the tragic — to a tantrika, it is all sacred). The question is this: how do we sustain this state of pleasure, freedom, and ease every moment?

In certain yogic breathing exercises, we purse the lips and breathe through the mouth. This way of breathing stimulates the tenth cranial nerve, the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve, which goes all the way from the head to the abdomen, stimulating heart, lungs, and digestion. The vagus nerve, when stimulated and refined, brings circulation, respiration, and digestion into synchronicity.

Kissing the lips of another being feels so satisfying because we engage in a moment in which one being’s vagus nerve syncs up with another being’s vagus nerve, creating a moment of physical union. The vagus nerves of two bodies spark simultaneously. Two hearts drum at once. Lungs lift and shift. Digestive dance within two bodies comes to a welcome pause. The link is so gratifying that one kiss can even unite two beings for years or even lifetimes. One kiss united Kya and Tate. And kept them tangled psychologically and spiritually long after their physical bodies endured years of separation.

Kundalini Yoga Master and Maha Tantric Yogi Bhajan once taught the Trikuti Kriya.  In this kriya, we chant the Wahe Guru mantra. When we chant, we focus the sound Wa at the belly, Hey at the heart, and Guru at the lips. On Guru, the lips purse out stimulating the vagus nerve. If the yogi maintains one-pointed focus on the lips while vibrating Guru very powerfully through the lips, then the exercise reveals itself not as a physical exercise but as a sensual and playful act of kissing the Wah Hey Guru mantra. 

If humans think it feels nice to lip kiss each other, well contemplate all the possible pleasure of kissing the Wahe Guru Mantra! Kissing Wahe Guru gives the sensation of kissing infinity, and it continues as an Infinite Kiss. Embracing the Trikuti Kriya as a Sadhana while one reads Where the Crawdads Sing can possibly give exalted pleasures because the tremor in the words and the nerve tremor in the body can collaborate to give a perception that every moment is a divine smooch, a mystical merge with a marsh, and a grand, exalted, salty coupling of wildlife with humanity.

I guess this is what it means to read with the sensibility of a yogi. It means to perceive the story dissolved until it is no longer about Kya and Tate, but about polarities coming into union: reader and writer, wild and tame, boy and girl, past and future, up and down, spring and autumn, hot and cold, literate and illiterate, leaves and roots, modern pubescent physical desire and ancient yogic mystical wisdom, pleasure and pain, on and off, loneliness and companionship, life and death. The totality of polarities included. No polarity left behind…

All polarities unite that is a state of yoga. Pure and simple union.

May all beings realize the ways reading while breathing through the pursed lips creates unity with the Infinite. May all beings realize the deep pleasure of practicing Yogi Bhajan’s Trikuti Kriya every day as a way to experience Sacred Kiss. And may all beings continue to feel the ecstatic tremor within making out with G.O.D.

Sat Naam!

Cover of Where the Crawdads Sing designed by Meighan Cavanaugh