August 2013.  Standing Under Little Wild

First, to explain "Little Wild"!  It is a little tree that planted itself by the terrace outside our kitchen a few years ago.  By the time we noticed, it was already knee-height, and, loth to remove such a sprightly thing, we let it grow.  For six years now it has borne fruit, a small plum deep red and round like a cherry, perhaps the kind locals call mirabolano.  The tree may be a result of jam-making, in which case its parent is further down from the house, by the bamboo grove.

And 'standing', for those unfamiliar with this practice in our kind of Chentaiji.  Standing as in 'Standing Pole' or 'standing like a tree', between earth and sky, a conduit for the energies, flowing through.

In the last few days, I've been doing my daily practice under Little Wild, my back to the old stones of this house. Above me is sky, visible through the reddish leaves of the tree, and every now and then I open my eyes to see if there is a sign of the raptors in our valley I am beginning to recognize.  Sometimes there is a call, like just now from a Honey buzzard. Three are soaring way up in the thermals, perhaps parents with their fledgling, initiating, we pray, its long life on the wing, journeying between here and Africa.  They like to fly with as little flapping as possible, what a worthy aim! And they do come down to earth. 

I am writing this with Holy Isle beckoning, wondering if there is anything I can suggest to prepare you for the kind of taiji practice we will be doing together. Try to soften inside.  At moments in the day, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, turn your attention inwards.  Let go inside the body.  Let it breathe, let it be. Let go the mind's grip on the body. The body is our workshop, our laboratory; it can be our hall of peace. The tool we need is awareness. Become aware of the air around you, how it sinks into you.  Be like a house with its doors and windows open, currents flowing through.