About 4 years ago I changed my perspective in a way that reconnected me to how I used to look, and see, when I was a child. I lay down on the earth, with one ear down, as though listening, & allowed my vision to shift. It took a while before I wasn’t automatically interpreting the layers in front of me in the stacked horizontal fashion I was so accustomed to from standing upright. Eventually I began to see vertical layers of earth, water, trees, then sky. All the elements in a row. After a further while I began to feel an internal connection to each element.
Because my right ear has lost some hearing capacity, if I wanted to “hear” the earth as best I could, then I needed to put my left ear down.
I understand the human body as a metaphor
& each individual body as carrying the particular poetics of your past.
If you’re constantly acting from the meaning & messages held in the mass of the body, then it stands to reason that your present & future are also held in your body, unless – or until – you change it.
I’ve had to train myself to listen with my right ear. It feels more precarious for me, almost dangerous. So having my “good” ear down on the earth meant two things. One was that my more-acute listening ability was focused on something I didn’t usually consider listening to — the earth itself. The other was that my less-acute listening ability in my right ear had to focus & gain confidence. As a woman of the human species I am forever on my guard against predation, so to be in the physically vulnerable position of laying on the ground & then to make myself further vulnerable by having the ear I trust less “on guard”, put me through some processes. In order to inquire I had to first check my surroundings so I could trust enough I was safe to then be present to the elements in front of me.
As I managed this feat, my brain started to align pieces together. Left ear, feminine listening, was connected to earth, known as Mother Earth in many traditions. (It’s likely there are some people who consider Earth masculine, but I have yet to encounter them.) Left eye, feminine seeing, when looking straight ahead, was aligned with water. Right eye, masculine seeing, was connected to the trees, to the passionate growth & Spirit that the element of fire represents. Right ear, masculine listening, was open to the sky, the air, or Father Sky in some traditions.
For me this alignment also mirrored “the particular poetics of my past”, as held in my body. My ability to hear the father, to listen to the patriarchy, was stunted by my own father not being present in my life. Makes it hard to listen to something that isn’t there. Or, when he was there, he was often railing & I didn’t want to hear it. I did not trust my ability to know the Father, the man. On the earth that day, I had to establish a safe space for myself to even explore it in my physical body with the general father sense, much less with an actual man, but it was a start. I played with flipping it so my right ear lay on the earth & this made me feel safer because my “good” ear could hear what was around me more clearly, yet because of that safety the process didn’t feel quite so potent.
I can talk about it, but I suggest you try it. Find out for yourself what it feels like to put your ear to the earth. I’m guessing it will feel intimate in a way you hadn’t realized, or perhaps you knew as a child & have since forgotten.
Over the years since that day my connection to the earth has deepened & grown. I have also been given the blessing of a water song that I sing daily to the waters wherever I am, in all directions, circling the globe. We assume the earth, just like we assume our feet. We walk on our feet instead of with them. We use the earth instead of honoring it. We can’t even see clearly that we simply would not exist without it. We’d also be non-existent if it weren’t for water. And the fires of the sun. And air. We cannot exist without any of the elements. They are in such an exquisite & dynamic balance that unless we have gained some wider, eagle-eye perspective of the blessings of our world, we don’t even see it at all. Until it’s threatened in some way–water polluted by oil spill, earth shaking from fracking…
Although the earth shakes of its own accord as well. I imagine earthquakes as some sort of orgasm. Or what I call the Cosmic Chiropractor. The readjustments may disturb our human constructions, yet the massive supporting body of the earth need not care. Just as we don’t pay any mind to the myriad bacteria or parasites that feed off of our bodies. However, just because we are relatively small, doesn’t mean we need to be as seemingly mindless as parasites. We do have consciousness. We can listen closely to the elements & be more finely attuned to them. We can develop a conscious relationship with the world that makes our existence even possible. We can. And I firmly feel we must.
So I’m coming out of my privacy shell on 3 December to share, with those who can make it in Wellington, my own personal practice of attuning my senses to the energies within — the chakras — & the energies without — the seasons & the elements. I’ve widely avoided the whole Instagram craze that yogi(ni)s have been going through in the past few years — putting all their beautiful bodies & poses online. In all of my advertising since I began teaching yoga in 2001, I have specifically not put a lot of postures into the visuals. No matter how amazing or how simple the posture, someone is going to judge it as either too easy or too hard. And that is not what the practice is about. It’s about inquiry, homage, honoring, union-with-all-that-is. Thus this public showing is called “This is How I Pray — Ear 2 Earth“.